First in the World; UAE’s Etisalat rolls out autistic-friendly web extension

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Desk Reporter
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UAE-based multinational telecom services operator Etisalat has partnered with the Ministry of Community Development to launch a first-of-its-kind web extension aimed at simplifying the World Wide Web and making it more accessible to autistic people.

The launch took place in the presence of Dr. Ahmed bin Ali, Group Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Etisalat, and Ms. Wafa Hamad Bin Sulaiman, Director of the Ministry of Community Development’s People of Determination Welfare and Rehabilitation Department, to commemorate World Autism Acceptance Day, which falls on 2nd April.

A panel comprising autism specialists attended the virtual press conference, namely Dr. Sharifa Yateem, the first Emirati behavior analyst certified by the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board and an autism expert; Amal Sabry, Founder and Managing Director at Emirates Autism Centre; and Dr. Rawhi Abdat, a researcher and psychologist at the Ministry of Community Development.

Etisalat has tapped the expertise of Belgium-based IT firm Bliss to create a web extension aimed at empowering autistic people and personalizing their browsing experience. This extension was developed in collaboration with autistic people in the UAE and directed by global evidence-based research findings on autistic-friendly designs.

Dr. Ahmed bin Ali
Dr. Ahmed bin Ali
Group Senior VP
Corporate Communications – Etisalat

“Etisalat is honored to launch the world’s first web extension dedicated to empowering autistic people because we believe the world is a better place when people come together, and is a testimony to our strong commitment to inclusion, accessibility, and breaking barriers. This stems from our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy to support and empower People of Determination through a plethora of initiatives and services, and is aligned with our strategy of ‘Driving the Digital Future to Empower Societies.”

“The Ministry of Community Development is committed to collaborate with all initiatives as well as support and empower priority groups especially when it comes to people of determination in a way that guarantees a better quality of life for all members of society,” said Ms. Bin Sulaiman.

Activation of web extension

Users can log in to the website on April 2nd and click ‘on’ to download and activate the ‘Etisalat Wider Web’ extension. From April 3rd onwards, the web extension will remain on the Google extension page.

Users can access ‘More Tools’ and ‘Extension’ via Google’s drop-down menu. They can click on the ‘Etisalat Wider Web’ green icon, which has a description of the extension. When settings are enabled, websites will display autistic-friendly settings such as neutral colors such as dark grey or medium grey, simplified fonts, simplified menus, simplified layouts, fewer images, ad blockers, and carousel freezing to help reduce sensory overload.

Autistic people all over the world can go to Etisalat’s official webpage and activate the free ‘Etisalat Wider Web’ extension, which instantly converts a standard web page into an autistic-friendly one.

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