Faten AlMukhtar ‘13 uses design to make people’s lives better. Specifically, working with Etisalat, an Emirati telecom company with a mission to promote “togetherness,” she was a key member of a team of designers and developers who recently created a web extension browser for people on the autism spectrum. The result is Etisalat Wider Web, which is a browser extension approved by Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Firefox for use in their web browsers.
“This technology scrubs through web pages on most any web browser and alters the code to make the web experience autistic friendly,” Faten said. “The colors and fonts change and the extension alters the images so they don’t trigger the kinds of reactions that overload the senses of people with autism. We combined technology and an art platform to help people with autism be more comfortable and productive on the web.”
After graduating from UWC-USA, Faten went on to study at the Savannah College of Art and Design and now works full time as an art director at Impact BBDO, an agency in Dubai. This groundbreaking development for those with neurodivergent disabilities was the product of a team that worked across continents, languages, and ways of seeing the world. “The big challenge,” she explained, “was to create a design that was not for our brains but for brains that are a little different.”
Faten credits her ability to succeed on a project of this scale with the kinds of collaborations she worked on while a student at UWC-USA. “My UWC experience informs my everyday life. There’s nothing that I do that wasn’t influenced in some way by my two years in Montezuma. I refer back to it all the time. The biggest two things I learned were collaboration and initiative. When we see a problem we don’t stand by – we get a group of people together to start solving it.”
The extension is free to anyone who wants to download it and Faten is eager for members of the broader UWC community to share it widely within their own communities. Etisalat, the client for this project, sees it as a gift they can give the world. Further, the code behind Etisalat Wider Web is open source, meaning that other developers are welcome to work with it, adapt it, and find new platforms for it.
Roughly 1% of children are diagnosed with autism each year. Faten’s dedication and her collaboration with her team has created a useful tool that can help them going forward. “I learned quickly that at UWC-USA we are leaders and collaborators. That’s the UWC spirit I like to bring to my work every day.”
Learn more about the Etisalat Wider Web extension and download it here.