Tag Archives: assistive technology


Specific initiatives on infocomm and assistive technology – that’s what Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development, has promised in a meeting in the Singapore Parliament.

A total of S$30 million strategic initiative from the Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative Grant will generate new solutions for persons with disabilities (PWDs). It will be carried out over a period of five years, in partnership with the SG Enable and National Council of Social Service.

The Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative has been supporting non-profit organizations through pilot and evidence-based programs as well as cross-sectoral collaborations. The Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) sectors will also be in the picture.

Meanwhile, the country’s Ministry of Education has committed to help Singaporean students with special needs through funding assistive technology devices and support services. The Special Education Needs Fund will also enable students in Institutes of Higher Learning to purchase devices to facilitate their learning, and Tan’s ministry will be increasing the lifetime cap and subsidy coverage of its Assistive Technology Fund.

“The changes will help more persons with disabilities and provide them greater support to defray the cost of purchasing or repairing their assistive devices” ~ Tan Chuan-Jin

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad term used to describe a group of chronic “palsies” that impairs control of movement due to damage to the developing brain. It is nonprogressive but the symptoms brought about by the damage may get better or worse over time.

Between 35% and 50% of children with this chronic childhood disability experiences seizure, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and vision, speech, hearing, or language problems. Infections, birth injuries, and poor oxygen supply to the brain before, during, and immediately after birth are its common factors. Assistive Technology (AT) would therefore allow accessibility to CP patients regardless of their abilities on a daily basis.

For those who cannot speak because of muscle spasms in their mouth, throat and tongue, there are the augmentative alternative communication (AAC) devices such as signs, letters, pictures, and even a voice. The Bright Hub Education, a content site that focuses on education, suggests the use of large markers or paint brushes for those with spastic CP. The Steady Write Writing Instrument, on the other hand, can help in controlling shaky handwriting.

Since CP may cause tightness in the muscles of hips and legs, wheelchairs could lessen difficulty in walking. One of the variety of wheelchairs manufactured by Convaid is a chair with 30-fixed tilt, headrest, and h-harness that can support those with weak trunk muscles. Adaptive tricycles are also now available since it has been found that therapeutic cycling can improve respiration, head and trunk control, strength of the anti-gravity muscles, coordination of the eyes and hands, and self-esteem.

Stool scooters can promote stability. Stair glides and elevators can let individuals with CP travel up and down the stairs with independence, safety and ease.  Mechanical lifts can also transport the latter into a bathtub, wheelchair or bed.

John of Leyte would use an orthesis to be able to use his hands and correct his positioning. Tyler Schwab would have a computer at hand to speak and do his coursework.

“We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance

On Technology

Last year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities focused on the role of technology in (1) disaster risk reduction and emergency responses, (2) creating enabling working environments, and (3) disability-inclusive sustainable development goals. Persons with disabilities (PWDs) can benefit from it, the secretary general of the United Nations believed, only that ‘too many lack access to these essential tools.’

The special rapporteur on the rights of PWDs and the special envoy of the secretary-general on Disability and Accessibility even congratulated the organization’s member states ‘for promising advances in a post-2015 development agenda which is sustainable, inclusive and accessible.’ The 151 member states have been ensuring the realization of Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as the commitment of the special representative of the secretary-general on Disaster Risk Reduction; Japan; and the Nippon Foundation.

There really is no doubt that adaptive, assistive and inclusive technology can let PWDs ‘make the most of their potential in their communities and in the workplace.’ All of them can increase, maintain, and improve the functional capabilities of PWDs.

But 80% of the PWDs are in third-world countries. They have not much money to spend for food, more so for an electronic device that could help them do the most basic of things. Nothing else could alleviate this fact except for more understanding on climate change and special education for all.

PWDs have a higher prevalence of mortality during disaster situations—up to 2 to 4 times—compared to non-PWDs ‘due to inaccessible evacuation, response (including shelters, camps, and food distribution), and recovery efforts.’ Simply using mass transit, reusing a grocery sack, eating nutritiously, and unplugging electronic devices that are not in use can assuage the impacts of climate change.

Prevention is better than cure, too. And there’s no other way through it but an increased awareness only special education to everybody could bring. Each of the illness leading to disability has been caused by a factor or two. It would be wise to understand why it has been so. Moreover, all of us either are or will become disabled during the course of our lives. How technology can be accessed affordably should be thought of as well as how to solve climate change and how to provide special education to all.

“On this day in which we remind ourselves of the situation of persons with disabilities around the globe, it is important, first of all, to resist the temptation to think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Instead we must remind ourselves that disability is part of the human condition: all of us either are or will become disabled to one degree or another during the course of our lives.” ~WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan’s message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2014 (IDPD, 2014)