King Saud University and ICDL Saudi Arabia jointly establish Saudi's groundbreaking ICDL for the Blind program

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Sign MoU to provide world-class IT proficiency training to the visually impaired and offer specially configured laptops to pioneering students

29 December, 2008
King Saud University (KSU) and ICDL Saudi Arabia, the governing body and certification authority of the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) programme in Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with the ECDL Foundation and UNESCO-Cairo, have recently signed a memorandum of agreement that will establish a pioneering ICDL program for the visually impaired in the Kingdom. The strategic alliance is part of ICDL's commitment to enable the proficient use of information and communications technology that empowers individuals, organisations and the entire society.

Under the partnership, ICDL Saudi Arabia will provide the Quality Assurance Standards and Syllabus for the ICDL for the Blind program, while it will also endorse KSU with UNESCO-Cairo to be one of the initial centres taking part in UNESCO’s "Best Practice" initiative. The UNESCO’s project will support one centre in each country with a graduation ceremony and international recognition in the hope that other similar centres will learn from the best practice centre and establish their own facilities for the visually impaired. KSU for its part will establish a dedicated Approved ICDL Training and Test Centre for visually impaired students and will provide all the qualified staff and administrators. The University has also pledged to give each of its pioneering students a laptop specifically configured for the visually impaired.

Dr. Abdullah Al Othman, King Saud University Rectorsaid: "We are honoured to partner with ICDL Saudi Arabia, the premier global standard for computer literacy, for this groundbreaking project. King Saud University is fully committed to offer our best resources to ensure the success of the ICDL for the Blind program as we believe that this will significantly raise the level of IT proficiency of the visually impaired, increase their employment opportunities and make them more productive members of the society. The ICDL program is already a requirement for KSU first-year male and female students. With its excellent reputation worldwide as a leading advocate for IT literacy, we are also looking forward to partner with ICDL Saudi Arabia for other specialised IT programs."

Dr. Sulaiman Al-Dhalaan, the Managing Director of ICDL said: "ICDL Saudi Arabia considers this partnership with KSU another significant milestone in our mission to equip all people with fundamental IT skills and knowledge that will help them become more productive individuals. The visually impaired have a lot of potential to be more participative in the socioeconomic development of Saudi Arabia and providing them with world-class IT training under the ICDL standard is a huge step towards enhancing their ability to deliver more concrete contributions to the progress of the society."

The KSU Approved ICDL Training and Testing Centre is part of an initiative by ICDL and UNESCO-Cairo to establish Best Practice centres for the visually impaired in selected locations across the Arab World. The pioneering batch of the Saudi Training and Testing Centre will commence classes in February 2008 and will hold its graduation rites in June 2008, during which ICDL will jointly host an award ceremony for the top graduates of the program.

KSU will assist ICDL Saudi Arabia in automating the ICDL for the Blind training and testing materials and has also committed to review all test and training materials to ensure the highest level of accuracy and appropriateness for visually impaired students. KSU will submit its comments and recommendations to ICDL Saudi Arabia, which will accordingly develop an automated training material compatible with JAWS and automated tests compatible with Supernova/Nattiq. Further details of the partnership and of KSU's Best Practice Centre will be featured on the ICDL website.

ICDL is a vendor-neutral digital literacy program that is acknowledged through testing and proves that the certificate holder has fundamental skills in IT, using the computer, managing files, word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation, and handling of the Internet and e-mail. The ICDL certificate is recognised and endorsed by education ministries, universities and government organisations with accreditations from over 168 countries and available in more than 40 languages.

KSU is a leading organisation in higher education, which has successfully implemented and is enforcing the ICDL program as a minimum standard for its students as well as in other affiliate higher-education institutions.