Harnessing Technology for Greater Inclusion

SPD's Advocacy & Public Education team has been zipping across the island to spread the message of inclusion, and sharing with tech savvy youths how their expertise can help create [...]

SPD’s Advocacy & Public Education team has been zipping across the island to spread the message of inclusion, and sharing with tech savvy youths how their expertise can help create a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

Hack for Good

Melissa Tan from the Advocacy & Public Education team was at Youth Corps Singapore’s “Hack for Good!” on 23 July. She spoke to participants about disabilities and how organisations such as SPD are helping those with special needs in the community.

The event aimed at highlighting community issues and inspiring youths to develop solutions to address them. The central theme was to make common spaces more inclusive for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable communities through youth-initiated projects.

The session was followed by focus group discussions comprising 40 participants where the SPD team shared insights on various issues and challenges faced in the disability community in Singapore. The team also elaborated on the ways the society could help to reduce barriers so that persons with disabilities could participate and be included in all aspects of community life.

“I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm and passion in these participants. It will be interesting to see how they apply their creativity and come up with solutions that make an impact on the community,” said Melissa.

Through this engagement, we are exploring more opportunities to work with Youth Corps Singapore on a programme that we are developing to support young persons with disabilities which will be launched later this year.

Singapore Polytechnic Social Innovation Project with SPD
SPD recently collaborated with Singapore Polytechnic (SP) for the third time in their Social Innovation Project (SIP). The SIP is a compulsory 16-week module that sees all SP Year 2 students working together in teams to propose solutions to social issues. Through this project, we hope that students would be able to understand themselves better, develop empathy for issues and needs affecting their immediate community, and encourage them to make a positive impact in the community.

In preparation, the Advocacy & Public Education team sent the students a project brief detailing four project areas that the students could work on:

i) Solutions to help students with disabilities overcome challenges they face in their school environment
ii) Initiatives for the service industry that could enhance the experiences of people with disabilities
iii) Methods to encourage service staff to serve people with disabilities better
iv) Tactics to help people with disabilities pursue an active lifestyle in the community

The team worked with the students in both the project incubation and development phases, highlight issues relating to affordability, effectiveness and viability considerations. The students also spoke to people with disabilities to have a deeper understanding of their needs.

After many weeks of hard work, the four groups of students presented their proposed solutions to SPD, their lecturers and fellow students to gather feedback at the ‘Gallery Walk’ exhibition held in SP on 28 July 2016. These would be incorporated in their final report and presented to their lecturers in August. The proposed solutions were as follows:

Group 1: Improved wireless speech-in-noise delivery device to help those with hearing impairments

Group 2: Smart phone application to help those with low vision when taking public buses

Group 3: Smart phone application to encourage persons with disabilities to participate in the community

Group 4: Smart phone application showing stair-free routes in campus for SP students using wheelchairs

Through this collaboration, we were able to spread the message of inclusion to future leaders, engineers and business owners, and hope that the experience they gained through this project will stay with them and positively impact their mindset and decision-making in future.