When Qatar Foundation (QF) student Ragia Hassan met members of the deaf community on the first day of her Audiovisual Translation Access class, she knew she wanted to use her skills to help improve their reading and writing skills.

Ragia Hassan

Ragia, a graduate of Masters of Arts in Audiovisual Translation (MAAT) from the Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), focused her research on the use of ‘enriched subtitling’ as an access tool to help deaf users build a wider Arabic vocabulary.

What really struck me during my research was how much the deaf people I worked with wanted to learn. This was the first time that I interacted with members of the deaf community, and from day one I knew I wanted to shape my research to help them.’

Ragia, a mother of three, had been out of formal education for more than 15-years prior to beginning the MAAT course at TII in Education City.

I always wanted to continue my education. I didn’t know if it would be easy to go back to college and study… However, the faculty at TII and all the staff members really supported me throughout my two years at HBKU.’

Ragia’s commitment to lifelong learning is an example of the resilience shown by many graduates throughout this academic year, who chose to pursue their education regardless of personal or geopolitical challenges.

Ragia has worked as a journalist and editor for a number of organisations since completing her BA 15-years ago.

I encountered many different media formats as a journalist and I really wanted to use my knowledge to help deaf people through Audiovisual Translation. Deaf students in Qatar experience many issues when learning to read and write Arabic; it’s very difficult for them to use traditional teaching methods. Although we had a small group, we experienced very positive results using enriched subtitling to build the vocabulary.’

Maryam Al-Masalmani, who also graduated this April from the TII MAAT course, said she developed her research to help improve the museum and visual art experience for blind and sighted audiences in Qatar. According to her, she always enjoys bringing art to people, describing objects, and mediating as a translator. Maryam used her research to work with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Education City to produce text and audio for artworks in both Modern Standard Arabic and in Urban Qatari Dialect.

I wrote the descriptions for the artworks from scratch and used them as part of my research. I also produced tactile images resembling some of the paintings on display that blind audiences could touch and feel to let them know what the art is like. They found it really useful and it helped them understand the small details of the artworks.’

Maryam joined the MAAT course in 2016 and described her journey with QF as ‘an exciting experience’. She was sad that it was ending now.

Through my research, there was a real sense that I was providing an important service to the community – that, at TII, we are building a bridge between the academic world and the wider community. This course has given me the power to give something back, and to help preserve the heritage of Qatar while increasing the community’s interest and involvement in heritage and art.’

Maryam said she is determined that her pursuit for knowledge will not end here. She wanted to continue her education and earn a PhD.

Through the MAAT course, TII students also work regularly with organisations like Qatar Museums and the Doha Film Institute to develop audio descriptions and subtitles for exhibitions and film festivals to provide members of the blind community with resources to access major art and film events in Qatar.