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Singapore to provide people with disabilities better access to technology

Adrian M. Reodique | July 22, 2016
A new wheelchair-accessible IDA Lab on Wheels will bring technology to the special needs community in the republic.

Dr Yaacob at E2 event
Edwin from the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped showing Dr Yaacob the use of assistive devices such as the BrailleNote and Electro Magnifier to help the visually impaired. Credits: Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).

People with disabilities (PWDs) and supporting Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) in Singapore will soon enjoy greater access to assistive technologies and financial support.

At the E2 Connect 2016, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information, announced a new wheelchair-accessible Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) Lab on Wheels to bring technology to the special needs community. The bus will showcase Infocomm/Assistive Technologies (IT/AT), as well as offer workshops with customised curriculum for different special needs such as cerebral palsy and autism. Occupational therapists will also come on board to assist during workshops.

Meanwhile, VWOs like Blue Cross Thong Kheng Home and the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) received IT/AT Adoptive Grants from IDA's Enable IT programme to leverage technology solutions - in form of smart devices and virtual reality solutions - to help their beneficiaries.

Dr. Yaacob also announced two new enhancements to the NEU PC Plus programme - a scheme by IDA that offers computers and broadband at affordable price for students from low-income families.

In a press release, IDA said the programme have already benefitted more than 27,000 low-income household with school-going children or PWDs since 2006.

With the improved scheme, the monthly household income cap will be raised from S$3,000 to S$3,400, which is expected to benefit another 5,000 households over the next five years. The application process to the programme has also been streamlined so that special education students who are already on financial assistance will be able to receive a subsidy of up to 75 percent more easily.

The improvements to NEU PC Plus programme will take effect on 1 September 2016.

The E2 Connect 2016 is a two-day forum organised by IDA to bring together communities from industry and disability care to raise awareness of opportunities for PWDs in terms of education, training, and independent living.

The event is also part of the Enable IT programme - under IDA's Digital Inclusion initiative- to help people enjoy the benefits of infocomm as Singapore move towards becoming a Smart Nation.

"A Smart Nation is about people, not tech alone. It's about using tech to make people's lives better, creating new opportunities and building stronger communities; it's for everyone," said Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive at IDA.


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