Types of assistive technology devices and software
There are many types of assistive technology devices and software that could empower persons with disabilities. They vary in functionality and cost.
The list below gives a non-exhaustive overview of the AT devices and software available. For more information on AT devices, check out this article on assistive technology by World Health Organization (WHO).
Tech Able, jointly managed by SG Enable and SPD and located at the Enabling Village, showcases a wide range of AT devices, highlighting the possibilities of AT for work, learning and living. The centre also provides consultation, assessment and training for persons with disabilities.
Obtaining an assistive technology device
An assistive technology assessment evaluates the needs, abilities and limitations of a person with disabilities, so that the most suitable assistive technology devices or software can be recommended. This assessment is typically done by therapists in hospitals and voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs).
Why getting an assistive technology assessment is recommended
An assistive technology assessment helps to ensure that the person with disabilities adopts an assistive technology device or software that is most suitable for the user’s intended tasks. An inappropriate choice could lead to inefficient performance or even injury.
In the course of a user’s life, his needs, capabilities and environment will change. Hence, it is strongly recommended that persons with disabilities get an assistive technology assessment periodically (no longer than five years in between) to ensure that they continue to benefit from the assistive technology device or software.
How to get an assistive technology assessment
Persons with disabilities who receive support from disability service providers (e.g. VWO, special education schools) or hospitals should request an AT assessment through the therapists or social workers there.
For those who are not receiving regular support, therapists from SPD operate in Tech Able, a centre showcasing various AT devices and software. To make an appointment for an AT assessment, download, fill and email the Assistive Technology Referral Form to SPD at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buying or borrowing an assistive technology device/software
After an assistive technology assessment, persons with disabilities can purchase assistive technology devices/software through one of a number of vendors in Singapore.
Some organisations loan assistive technology devices to persons with disabilities who are awaiting the delivery of their own device, or who want to try out a particular device before buying. SPD operates an assistive technology loan library at Tech Able, where users can borrow the devices for a small fee. There are also satellite assistive technology centres in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support Offices in Institutes of Higher Learning that lend assistive technology devices to students.
Various funding schemes are available to defray the costs of purchasing assistive technology devices and software. Eligibility criteria vary, but broadly speaking:
- The Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) is for persons with disabilities from low-income families, and helps defray up to 90% of the cost of buying, replacing and repairing assistive technology devices used for education, employment, training and independent living
- The Special Education Needs (SEN) Fund is for Singaporean students in polytechnics and ITE colleges. Some universities and arts institutions may have SEN Fund-equivalent support
- The Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) is for seniors aged 60 and above
- The Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme allows eligible households to install AT devices that make the homes more elderly-friendly, at a subsidised cost
For further details, go to the Money Matters section in this website.