New Facility to Promote Adoption of Assistive Technology Among Persons with Disabilities

Singapore, 6 October 2015 – 
1 Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development today launched Tech Able, a facility that enables persons with disabilities to live and work independently through assistive technology.
2 The first of its kind in Singapore, Tech Able will serve as:

i. A training facility to enhance employability through communications and technology;
ii. A platform for collaborations to create new technology solutions; and
iii. A resource centre to make assistive technology (AT) and infocomm technology (ICT) more accessible.

3 Tech Able features the Singtel Enabling Innovation Centre (SEIC) which will leverage technology to support training and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWDs). The centre will offer customised training in the area of communications and technology, such as in contact centre operations, and online and social media marketing. Training will be held in the Communications Training Lab, an inclusive training space where persons with different abilities can learn together.
4 SEIC will also serve as a space to seed and support collaborations among different professional interest groups, such as therapists, researchers and users with disabilities, to encourage knowledge sharing and innovation of assistive technologies. It will also provide co-working spaces for like-minded individuals and enterprises to work together to create, test and refine new technology solutions for PWDs in their daily living and working environments.
5 The Tech Able facility will also comprise the ST Engineering Enabling Technology Centre (SETC), which will leverage SPD’s (formerly Society for the Physically Disabled) expertise, which was built from their previous experience of operating a resource centre on AT and ICT for PWDs. With this collaboration, Tech Able aims for an even greater uptake of technology to improve the lives of PWDs. SPD’s team of AT specialists will be on site to assess users’ needs, recommend and facilitate trying out of suitable assistive devices and provide advice on purchase of equipment and subsidies. With these resources and assistance at hand, PWDs and caregivers can make better informed decisions about assistive devices.
6 Employers and caregivers can also visit Tech Able to learn how they can create more inclusive workplaces and homes. A home-office showcase will demonstrate how AT devices can be applied and modified to create more ready environments for employees with disabilities.
A Partnership
7 Tech Able was made possible through a multi-agency partnership between the private, public and people sectors.
– SG Enable will be the lead agency to bring together the resources and expertise needed to operationalise Tech Able.
– SPD will provide assistive technology consultation, assessment and training through their team of AT specialists.
– Singtel is the sponsor for the Singtel Enabling Innovation Centre (SEIC).
– ST Engineering is the sponsor for the ST Engineering Enabling Technology Centre (SETC).
– Community Chest engaged Singtel and ST Engineering’s support and enabled the matching grant for their donations through the Care and Share movement.
– The Infocomm Development Authority’s (IDA) grant supports the infusion of AT/ICT into facilities and services established within Tech Able and other parts of the Enabling Village, to promote the adoption of technology among PWDs and the disability sector.
8 Ms Ku Geok Boon, Chief Executive Officer of SG Enable, said, “Technology and innovation can change the lives of persons with disabilities, whether in enabling independent living or in improving employment opportunities. By bringing together the people, public, and private sectors, and harnessing their different capabilities, Tech Able will improve access to technology and bring new solutions to the special needs community.”
9 “With the help of technology, persons with disabilities can become more confident and participate more in all life domains including socially, in school, at play and in the workplace. With the launch of Tech Able, we hope to see the adoption of assistive technology becoming more widespread in the near future,” said Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director of SPD.
10 Ms Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO of Singtel, said, “At Singtel, we have seen how our ICT technologies have improved the lives of our customers, and we are equally confident it has the larger potential to positively change the lives and employability of people with disabilities. We look forward to the innovations that can be catalysed at Tech Able.”
11 “As an engineering group, we know how big a difference technology can have on our daily lives. Through the Enabling Technology Centre, we want to help those in our community with disabilities to get the right assistive technologies so they too can lead full and productive lives at work, home or leisure,” said Mr Tan Pheng Hock, President and Chief Executive Officer, ST Engineering.
12 Ms Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director of IDA, said, “People with disabilities, from children to seniors, face lifelong challenges, not for a lack of intelligence or ability, but a lack of training, education or access to the tools and technology that limits their futures. With the infocomm and assistive technology offered by Tech Able, they will be able to counter obstacles related to their disabilities, integrate into mainstream society and realise their full potential in our Smart Nation.”