The Vision

A Proponent for Maximizing Autonomy

Despite many supportive policy frameworks, people with disability remain stigmatized and discriminated against in social life in Tunisia. Battles in the civic engagement field have been carried over the years, but challenges remain for people with disability.
Ashref Hamdi is a Tunisian activist and a Founding Member of the Tunisian Association of Access for People with Disabilities (ATAPH). He holds a bachelor's degree in History and was graduated as a history professor in 2010. Unable to find a job, he pursued a vocational training in computer science specifically dedicated to people with vision impairment.
Fueled by his vision to make Tunisia more inclusive, Ashref co-founded an organization that aims primarily at providing personal autonomy for people with disability and facilitating their access to social life. Ashref believes that the fate of people with disability resides in the hands of the Tunisian government and civil society organizations are only tools to put more pressure on state institutions in order for change to happen.
At first, the Tunisian Association of Access for People with Disabilities had a slow start with small accomplishments, working on providing different services for people with disability in equipping their personal computers with security programs. But over the years, it made a partnership with the Tunisian Interactive Systems and Services, a company, specializing in marketing and selling media equipment and assisting people with visual impairment. Together, they worked extensively on assisting them in installing these pieces of equipment in universities and public libraries including the ones in Gabes and Sfax and the national library located in Boulevard 9 Avril.

Ashref narrates his life journey from losing his sight due to an illness to having a “normal” childhood, to having traumatizing experience in primary school, to coming to his own terms that difference is not and should not be perceived as an issue, nor an impediment. Ashref is a vehement believer that being different can take you places, only if it is boosted by a strong will. For him, the latter is a solution and the foundation for people with disability. Being widely aware that stigma leads to discrimination, Ashref embarks on a journey to dismantle misconceptions and stereotypes about people with disability in Tunisian society.