Noah Talib Salim al Hadidi, 29, is visually impaired since birth. But, this hasn’t deterred him to achieve big in life. In May, Hadidi will become the first visually impaired Omani to get a Master’s degree in Computer Science.
His goal to achieve academic excellence began in the nineties. Hadidi left for Bahrain to pursue a course at the elementary level at the Saudi-Bahraini Institute for the Blind as Oman didn’t have any such institute at that time. Then, he travelled to Saudi Arabia to get a General Education Diploma.
In 2009, Hadidi returned as he was keen to pursue the computer science programme at the Sultan Qaboos University. But, the varsity did not offer the course for visually impaired students at that time.
Here, Al Noor Association for the Blind came to his rescue. The association helped him to get a scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education to pursue Bachelor’s in Computer Science at Colorado State University which he completed in 2015.
Now, Hadidi is pursuing a Master’s programme in the same subject and hopes to get the degree in May. By doing so, he will become the first visually impaired Omani to get a Master’s degree in Computer Science. Talking about the challenges he faced in the US, Hadidi said, “Speaking in English was the biggest challenge in the US. There is a huge gap between the Omani and American teaching methods. In the US, visually impaired and sighted students are taught in the same classrooms. In Oman, the visually impaired are taught in special classes.”
Hadidi said that the US stint has been a great learning experience for him. “I made a lot of friends, studied English language programmes and used Computer Screen Reader NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) to overcome the challenges.”
He said that staying away from home has taught him to be patient, determined and courageous. “I learnt about other cultures too. The university is an assimilation of cultures as students from several parts of the world study here. Teachers too treat the disabled with full respect and help them to achieve their goals.”
Hadidi said that developed nations allow the disabled an environment to showcase their creative abilities. “They don’t look at the visually impaired with pity but as humans who have the right to education and creativity like the sighted. I have pursued several hobbies like skating, rock climbing, swimming, reading and anything related to computers.”
On his future plans, Hadidi said, “I wish to open a school for the visually impaired on computer science. I’d like to thank Google for incorporating my suggestions on programmes designed for the visually impaired. I also thank Al Noor Association for the Blind for its great support.”
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