Six VWOs get grants to tap IT aids for those with disabilities

July 22, 20169:48 am757 views

SINGAPORE — Simulators offering virtual sports for users to hone different social and cognitive skills, keyboard aids for individuals with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, and Braille-enabled tablets — these are among a variety of gadgets that voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) may now provide for their beneficiaries, through a grant recently offered by the Infocomm Development Authority.

The six VWOs awarded the grants of between S$8,600 and S$38,000, which subsidises up to 75 per cent of each project’s costs, are the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds), the SPD (formerly known as the Society for the Physically Disabled), Sun-Dac, Blue Cross Thong Kheng Home, St Andrew’s Autism Centre and Christian Outreach to the Handicapped.

Minds, for instance, is piloting a simulator at its multiservice centre on Lorong Napiri in Hougang.

Customised by developer Edamas Medical Pte Ltd, the simulator offers 21 different types of activities that train users in a variety of social and cognitive skills such as alertness, reaction time and memory skills — using virtual images, sensory technologies and props such as racquets to engage them.

For example, one activity gets users to work as a team to “catch” as many “fishes” as they can, while another requires them to “burst” balloons within a time limit.

Activities may be projected onto the floor or on a platform to cater to wheelchair-users.

This simulator was displayed yesterday at the inaugural forum for infocomm and assistive technologies held at the Enabling Village near Redhill, a community space serving people with disabilities.

Another grant recipient, the SPD, is experimenting with a virtual reality solution to equip clients at its day activity centre with money management skills.

Its principal occupational therapist Tan Chuan Hoh said that this project would benefit those with various levels of functional capabilities.

“The pen-and-paper tasks we used in the past, such as getting clients to plan a budget for a party, were quite monotonous. They also tend to cater to the high-functioning clients,” he said.

Other assistive technologies showcased yesterday include keyboard aids that help people with cerebral palsy type more accurately, large trackballs that can be operated using one’s foot (an alternative to the standard computer mouse), and devices that pre-record and play back multiple messages to cater to people with speech impairment.

The forum also featured homegrown mobile app BevEat, which aims to create job opportunities in the food and beverage industry for persons with disabilities.

Using colour codes and large touchscreen buttons, the app allows waiters to take orders efficiently, and helps track orders for large-sized tables.

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