NTU To Develop Solutions For People With Physical Disabilities – MOU Signed With SPD To Advance R&D In Assistive Technology

Singapore, 13 June 2005 – Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to jointly pursue and promote research and development in Assistive Technology (AT).

Assistive technology refers to devices which assist people with disabilities to enhance their independence and improve their quality of life.

This is the first MOU that SPD has signed with a university. NTU was a natural choice due to its strength in engineering research and its focus on developing applications that meet real-world needs.

Under this MOU, NTU’s Biomedical Engineering Research Centre (BMERC) will collaborate with SPD’s Specialised Assistive Technology Centre (ATC) and Community Research Network (CRN), to jointly develop relevant and affordable AT systems.

Areas identified for development include:

a) Computer Access – hardware and software systems to assist people with physical disabilities to use a computer.

b) Mobility Aids – systems that improve the mobility of physically disabled people.

c) Alternative and Augmentative Communication – devices that enable and enhance verbal and written communication capability for those who have verbal communicative difficulties or speech impairments.

d) Environmental Assistance – Systems that can assist people with physical disabilitiesto reintegrate into society, normal daily living and working environments.

To complement the MOU, NTU’s annual “Engineering Innovation and Design” competition included an AT category for the first time. Eight projects were submitted under this category. The project teams worked with SPD to create simple and effective solutions that will improve the daily lives of physically disabled people. Some of the projects had undergone actual trials at SPD to ensure its relevance and applicability. (Please refer to attached factsheet for further information on the competition.)

“We believe that technology can both enable people with physical disabilities and level the playing field for them. Our Specialised Assistive Technology Centre is building research networks to develop the area of assistive technology locally. With the collaboration with NTU, we look forward to more affordable and better suited devices being developed that help people with physical disabilities in Singapore,” says Ms Chia Woon Yee, Director (Technology), SPD.

Says Professor Michael Khor, Director, Office of Research, NTU, “We are excited about this MOU with The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD). This collaboration capitalises on NTU’s expertise in Assistive Technology research and development. At the same time, it allows us to apply our knowledge to benefit society.”