On Thursday, July 6th, Alloy 26 had the pleasure of hosting Mohammed Saad, a disability advocate who spoke on being blind in Saudi Arabia, how this transformed his life, and what he does currently to improve the lives of other visually impaired individuals. His talk centered around technology, and the ways in which he uses various applications to assist him in everyday life. He opened the discussion with a real-life example, where he pulled an audience member and proceeded to snap various pictures of him from different angles, ultimately uploading one of the images chosen by the volunteer onto his Twitter account. It was amazing to see Mr. Saad at work—one would potentially think that blind individuals wouldn’t be able to use social media platforms like Twitter, however, Mr. Saad is constantly debunking that generalization.
Mohammed Saad was born in Saudi Arabia, and due to a medical mistake, was left blind at birth. His family set limits for him mainly out of fear, and his father homeschooled him up until high school, when he was finally permitted to join public education. Saad decided to join Twitter, which sparked his interest in social media and technology. Many individuals doubted his authenticity, as they didn’t believe a blind person could navigate social media so well, and so he struggled with gaining trust from his followers. Finally, a year later, he proved he wasn’t lying and became Twitter verified, a monumental step in the world of social media. Currently, he teaches other blind individuals how to use particular technologies—one such example was a money reading app on his phone—when he held a bill up to the screen, Siri announced the value of the bill.
He is incredibly proud to be teaching other blind individuals how to use these same technologies, which in turn allows them to live their lives more “normally” as Saad put it. He hopes to teach more individuals in his home of Saudi Arabia, however, is working to make the many technologies that are available in America available in Saudi Arabia as well. Currently, he has released an app that is available worldwide, thus breaking barriers and helping individuals everywhere, not just in one place. His message to the audience was for them to make apps specifically for visually impaired people; for example, while he has an app that recognizes the value of his money, there are no apps that help him count his money. Moreover, all map apps only work outdoors, and he insisted that something to help him navigate indoors would be incredibly useful. Though Saad faces these challenges, he was adamant about appreciating his situation—if he were to have been sighted, then he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to teach blind individuals how to use helpful technology, and that is what makes him truly happy—the ability to assist others who are in a similar situation.
His overall message? Trust yourself. Life is beautiful. Don’t spend one day being sad. You only live once, so enjoy yourself.
If you would like to follow Mohammed Saad on Twitter, you can do so @magic_ksa, or you can get in touch with him on Instagram @magicksa. Check out www.alloy26.com for upcoming events!