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Drawing on his personal experience of dyslexia, Atif forged his path in the field of assistive technology starting as a 1-to-1 AT trainer (2001) and specialist study skills tutor (2004). He then went on to co-found the award-winning social enterprise, Diversity and Ability (DnA), based on a disabled-led model where support is delivered by the ‘end-users’ and a close network of SpLD tutors with pronounced positions for learning inclusion and empathy.
To date, DnA has supported over 10,000 marginalised and neurodiverse learners in Higher Education through agile (assistive) technology training, mentoring and study skills tuition. As part of its social justice mission, DnA highlights the socio-economic realities of inclusion barriers and partners with the anti-homelessness charity CRISIS to provide free AT training, software and wellbeing courses for disabled/ neurodiverse homeless learners unable to access DSA or ATW funding. Atif is also a Director and Co-founder of Zaytoun CiC, a social enterprise built on the idea of economic support through ‘trade not aid’ and has facilitated marginalised farming communities based in Palestine / Gaza to reach new trade markets beyond the West Bank and the ongoing Occupation.
In 2009 Zaytoun CIC became the World’s first Fairtrade olive oil company, enabling 25 villages and over 6,000 farming families to create sustained, meaningful livelihoods with dignity and independence. Along with his two young children, ‘His Dyslexia’ as Atif insists, remains his harshest critic and yet the most inventive loyal friend he’s ever come across.
What others say
Atif and the DnA team are leaders in this sector in relation to training standards and communications. The team’s high level of expertise and responsiveness to a fast-changing environment sest them apart from others. With current non-DSA funded AT support becoming more of an issue in HE they champion a flexible ‘solution focussed’ approach to blending commercial, open source and embedded technologies. DnA provide an in-depth analysis of what software can do for students in the context of their current and future studies both as freestanding and integrated systems.
Atif has shown outstanding commitment to the support of neurodiverse students with particular emphasis on the role assistive technology plays in liberating academic tasks for this diverse group of learners. He was alive to this need at the early stages of the developing profession and he has kept the flame alive as he truly believes in the work he and his team from DnA do every day of their working lives.