PCs For People With Disabilities To Bridge The IT Divide

Singapore, 10 January 2001 – For people with disabilities, a lack of knowledge and exposure to IT can only further widen the opportunity gap between them and the rest of the community. The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) hopes to help bridge this divide by ensuring that people with disabilities are provided with equal opportunity to learn and adopt IT skills through its IT for the Disabled programme. The programme aims to increase PC ownership amongst people with disabilities from low-income households by providing them with refurbished PCs. This programme is part of IDA’s PC Reuse Scheme.

The Society kicks off its IT for the Disabled programme with the focus on students. The first 30 to be issued the refurbished PCs are or were past recipients of study grants from the Society under its SPD-DBS-Hope Education Programme. The PCs with Internet access will be delivered to the recipients by mid February. Recipients will also receive a complimentary training course on the use of the PC and after-delivery technical support. The Society hopes to issue 200 refurbished PCs to people with disabilities from low-income households by next year.

One such household is the Kong family. 11 year old Kong Ching Chye and his two younger siblings will now have a PC to assist them in their school projects as well as to allow them to learn IT skills. Their father who has poliomyelitis earns about $600 as an attendant at a petrol kiosk. His income is not able to buy the children a PC. The children’s mother is not working as she is slightly intellectually disabled. Through IT for the Disabled programme, Ching Chye who is hearing impaired, will be able to keep up with IT skills and communicate better with the outside world. The three children will also receive the Society’s education grant for 2001.

Besides Ching Chye, 13 students with disabilities and 16 students whose parents are disabled will also be receiving the refurbished PCs to help them keep up with IT skills. This is to ensure that these students compete on a level playing field in their education.

The IT for the Disabled programme is made possible through the participation of the School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering (MM)-Singapore Polytechnic, the Hope Fund and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). The Hope Fund and IDA are committed to providing used PCs. The MM staff of Singapore Polytechnic helped to refurbish the first lot of PCs.

Said Mr Ong Eng Chan, Director of MM, “The PC has become as basic a tool as the pen. The Polytechnic is therefore very happy to have participated in this programme to help needy disabled people to own a PC. It is a necessity to have one in this information age.”