About

The work on this research project is being carried out by The Speech Therapy Department in the Hamad Medical Corporation (the main provider of secondary and tertiary healthcare in Qatar and one of the leading hospital providers in the Middle East) and the Mada Center offering a single point of co-ordination for all activities related to digital and eInclusion in Qatar along with the Accessibility Team within the Web and Internet Science Group at the University of Southampton.

It has been funded thanks to a NPRP award [NPRP 6 – 1046 – 2 – 427] from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of The Qatar Foundation) and thanks must also go to all those participants in Doha and to ARASAAC for allowing their symbols to be used in this project.

The symbols are provided with their text equivalents in Modern Standard Arabic and where appropriate colloquial Qatari Arabic plus their English translation. The initial aim was to provide a set of symbols that could complement other symbols already in use to support:

  • Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) users
  • Those who may have low levels of literacy, learning disabilities or specific learning difficulties, where symbols can aid reading and writing skills.
  • Those individuals who have social interaction difficulties where symbols can act as prompts.
  • Arabic as a second language and environments that require signs with words and explanatory graphics

Symbols may also work in a similar way for those who acquire speech and language difficulties due to strokes and brain injury.  Symbols as indicators have value in supporting the understanding of Arabic for those with little knowledge of the language and symbols can also be used to assist with way finding or act as health and safety warnings in a way that is obvious to the widest possible audience.

Where it has been felt that there is no need to generate new symbols for certain concepts, links have been provided to the ARASAAC symbol set available thanks to collaboration with Centro Aragonés de Recursos para la Educación Inclusiva (CAREI) and are offered under a CC (BY-NC-SA) Creative Commons licence.

The Tawasol Symbols are free to use or distribute and can be incorporated and integrated into both free and commercial products. You may charge for your software, training or support but cannot make an additional charge for the use of the Tawasol library, either within your pricing or as an additional download. We simply ask that you note the source of the symbols and the license under which they are provided. Tawasol symbols are available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence

You can follow the progress of the research and symbol development via our blog.

logos from QNRF,, Mada, HMC and University of Southampton

The Team

Professor Mike Wald – Principal Investigator

Professor Mike Wald – Principal Investigator

Professor Wald leads research into accessible technologies in the Web and Internet Science Group, ECS. He has advised HEFCE, JISC and Universities on enhancing learning through the use of technologies. He established the University’s MSc in Computer Based Learning and Centre for Enabling and Learning Technologies (CELT) in 1994 and was involved in the establishment of the University’s Disability and Assistive Technology Services. He is a founder member of the International Liberated Learning Consortium that includes other leading universities (e.g. MIT) and organisations (e.g. IBM) and is investigating how speech recognition can make teaching and learning more accessible. Professor Wald and his team are not only working on the Arabic Symbol dictionary but also on webpage toolbars for easier reading, a digital accessibility MOOC, STEM Reading technologies, and a system to make multimedia web resources (e.g. podcasts) easier to access, search, manage, and exploit by supporting the creation of synchronised notes, bookmarks, tags, images, links and text captions.

Dr Amal Ahmad – Co-Lead Principal Investigator

Dr Amal Ahmad – Co-Lead Principal Investigator

Dr. Amal graduated from a Medical Degree from Mosul University and completed her Master’s degree in Speech & Audiology from Baghdad University. She has been working in the Speech Therapy department of HMC for 15 years dealing with speech, language, and swallowing impaired patients. Her areas of interest include communication intervention for Neurogenic disorders using AAC, Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) for dysphagic patients, and vocal rehabilitation in patients with tracheotomy. She has presented many papers related to rehabilitation for speech and language across the Middle East including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Manama and Doha. She has also written numerous articles which have been published in Arabic and English newspapers and magazines. She has conducted multiple research studies in the area of speech and language which have been published in local and international journals and is currently a principal research investigator with the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF).

Maha Al Mansouri

Maha Al Mansouri

Maha Al Mansouri has been Chief Executive at Mada, Qatar Assistive Technology Center since June 2014, bringing strong leadership and management experience to her role at Mada.
Prior to her appointment as CEO, Maha worked as the operator of two independents school in Qatar where she worked to ensure the inclusion of pupils with special needs. She joined Mada as Head of training, overseeing the development of programs of capacity building and knowledge transfer for professionals within Qatar. Her success in this role led to her promotion to Deputy Chief Executive in 2012 where her responsibility expanded to oversee the development of direct services for people with a disability and to manage strategic relations with organizations serving people with a disability within the country.
Looking ahead Maha is committed to the inclusion of people with special needs throughout education and employment and seeing technology unlock potential and enhance the quality of life for all people with a disability within Qatar.

E.A. Draffan

E.A. Draffan

E.A. began her career as a Speech and Language Therapist working in a group of London Hospitals. The work involved supporting disabled people with a wide range of communication difficulties. She then worked in schools and colleges, specialising in the support of those with Special Needs whilst encouraging the use of assistive technologies (AT). A Winston Churchill Fellowship provided the chance to see how centres of AT were set up in the United States. This resulted in ten years work at the University of Sussex, setting up and running a regional AT Centre. She is now a member of the Web and Internet Science Research Group in ECS at the University of Southampton working with MSc and PhD students, supporting the development of accessibility applications and being involved with web accessibility initiatives and MOOC development.

Amatullah Kadous

Amatullah Kadous

Tullah is based at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) as a Research Assistant on the project having trained as Speech and Language Pathologist. She is a graduate of the University of Sydney and is in proficient in both Arabic and English. She has worked with children and adults to improve their communicative and swallowing abilities in schools, health clinics, research centres, and acute and rehabilitative hospitals. She is very passionate about helping people with neurogenic disorders improve their communicative interactions. Her focus now lies mainly in improving the accessibility of culturally appropriate communication resources for people in the Middle East and she has been setting up workshops for symbol acceptance discussions and voting whilst also liaising with participants on the project to collect core vocabularies, translating Arabic and English lists suitable for AAC users and reporting on the project blog.

Nadine Zeinoun

Nadine Zeinoun

Nadine graduated as a Speech and Language Therapist from Saint Joseph University, Lebanon and for her thesis presented a list of Lebanese core vocabulary for a prototype Arabic symbol set for AAC users. Nadine is now working in the Mada Center as an Assistive Technology specialist, to support people with disabilities in Qatar and improve their communication as well as joining the Arabic Symbol Dictionary research team. Nadine has experience working with infants, children and adolescents with a variety of communication disorders and developmental or behavioral problems. She has been instrumental in setting up connections with participants for the development and voting of symbols for the Arabic Symbol Dictionary as well as sourcing core Arabic vocabularies for AAC users.

Nawar Halabi

Nawar Halabi

Nawar graduated with a Computer Science Degree from the University of Aleppo and has received a first for his Masters in Web Technology course. He has been working with the team on the ATbar, Arabic translations and the development of the Arabic ATbar desktop version and started a PhD in 2014. Nawar has also been carrying out research into open source text to speech engines and the quality of voices available in both English and Arabic with the aim of developing new voices to better suit local requirements. He is now working on the Arabic Symbol Dictionary Reaserch Project along with other projects and has been instrumental in the development of the Symbol Management system that holds the newly developed symbols and allows for votes to be collected from participating therapist, teachers, families, carers and AAC users to check for their suitability. Nawar has also developed this website based on Dana’s designs and a vote for the chosen layout.

Dr Ouadie Sabia

Dr Ouadie Sabia

Dr Ouadie has joined the team as a linguist consultant in order to refine the online Symbol dictionary in terms of translation of the written forms of English and Modern Standard Arabic, ensuring the accuracy of diacritical representation in all proposed lists along with the correct grammatical categorisations and parallel example sentences in both languages. The team have found the support provided by Dr Ouadie invaluable as he has been able to compare lists collected in Doha with other Arabic word frequency lists to make sure that the core vocabulary used by the team is robust and represents those words used most often in spoken and written Arabic.

Dana Lawand

Dana Lawand

Dana graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic design from the Lebanese American University of Beirut. Dana’s designs have been mainly before advertising agencies where she has delivered the concept for a brand through various types of media that reflect the concept and vision. Given the opportunity to work with Mada making the link between graphic design and the work of the research project has many similarities when it comes to delivering its vision. Initial work has been the creation of the project logo named ‘Tawasol’ which in Arabic means ‘Communication’ whilst beginning the task of working on designing additional dissemination materials and the symbols that need to be added to the Arabic Symbol Dictionary. Participants on the project have been voting on Dana’s symbols and the results have been very positive.