Amana Healthcare held a workshop during Abu Dhabi Art Week 2015 at Manarat Al Saadiyat on November 21, 2015. The workshop was hosted by SEDRA (Services for Educational Development, Research and Awareness for Inclusion) where UAE based jordanian artist Salah Shaheen gave a presentation on new techniques for creating artworks digitally. He strongly suggested that everyone is capable of creating artwork with such new digital platforms – which he himself has developed digital paint brushes for.
Salah had previously worked with Badr Al Ali, a patient with locked-in syndrome at Amana Healthcare (Abu Dhabi), to create calligraphic art inspired by Badr’s vision. Badr had communicated his creative ideas with his eyes through use of eye tracking technology, Eye Gaze, which is part of his therapy and training to build his communications skills. Both the artworks created from this collaboration were made available at the workshop for attendees to view. Each spelled out Badr’s daughters’ names in Arabic calligraphy in color tones pre-selected by him. Salah illustrated with these artworks that having collaborated with Badr made him realise that it is imaginable to stretch the boundaries of possibilities, even for a severely diabled patient like Badr, to be able to creatively express himself with use of technology that is available today.
Amana Healthcare, with the help of their trained occupational therapist, demonstrated the Eye Gaze eye tracking technology at the workshop, so attendees could understand what it means to only be able to communicate with one’s eyes. They got a chance to play some of the games that the interface offers to help build eye muscle strength in patients, in order for them to use the communication tools avalaible on the platform that train the eye to give basic commands including switching off lights in a room or voicing out discomfort. Offering disabled poeple, like Badr, a chance to express themselves creatively and to make choices even with limited means of mobility is at the forefront of the vision at Amana Healthcare – reintergrating them into society and excercising increasingly creative ways for inclusive development.