Mounir Naili is a Hands Along the Nile Professional Fellows Program alumnus. In spring 2015, through the HANDS program and his placement at the Chicago Hearing Society, Mounir learned about the services and opportunities accessible to the deaf community in the U.S. Through his experience with the PFP, Mounir discovered more about the social services, advocacy programs, and interpretation services available to the hearing impaired in the U.S. The program was also a great opportunity for him to learn more on U.S. cultural diversity and values.
Once he returned to his rural hometown of M’ririt, Morocco, he worked on strengthening different programs in his organization, the TAWASSOL Association for the Deaf, such as providing more legal resources for participants. As Vice President of TAWASSOL, Mounir focuses on encouraging education among deaf people in the region, fighting illiteracy, and increasing the number of female participants in organizational activities. He has also become President of the Center of the Integration and Rehabilitation Center of People with Special Needs of the Khenifra Providence in Morocco.
Since his fellowship in the U.S., Mounir has developed a creative project inspired by his participation in the Professional Fellows Program: “Let’s Communicate.” As Morocco’s first online sign language dictionary, the website contains videos and other interactive visual aids for visitors to learn Moroccan sign language.
He has worked extensively on designing this project so that it can be accessible to anyone, hearing and non-hearing alike. In addition to creating content to teach Moroccan sign language, he hopes the website can function as a platform to help bring the deaf and hearing communities together. This is a significant goal for Mounir, who has helped TAWASSOL form programs to assimilate the deaf community into society.
The project has been a tremendous achievement due to the lack of Moroccan sign language training. Online resources for learning sign language are also very limited.
“A Picture With 1,000 Sounds,” a music video on the website, featuring singer Ilyas with deaf students and members of TAWASSOL, exemplifies Mounir’s work for deaf people in society. The video demonstrates his commitment to raising awareness on the language, culture, and rights of the deaf community through visual media and other technological tools.
The innovative technological project was made possible thanks to support from Youth for Change, sponsored by the Bibliotecha Alexandria and TakingIT Global. The Youth for Change program assists Arab youths in becoming agents of change within their communities through grants, scholarships, and online tools.
HANDS would like to thank the U.S. Department of State, partner organizations, and donors for helping young leaders like Mounir envision and create programs to serve their community’s most vulnerable groups.