Apps a boon for special needs

SINGAPORE - The Asian Women's Welfare Association (Awwa) School showed off its three-dimensional interactive classroom on Tuesday during a Chinese New Year visit from President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Opened early last year, the classroom is equipped with computers and iPads on which the school's students - who have special needs ranging from autism to visual disabilities - can access applications to help them imitate and learn life skills.

They can scan picture cards depicting the gesture they wish to learn and an instructional video will pop up.

Lessons range from waving to greeting someone to a step-by-step demonstration on cooking instant noodles.

Awwa School principal Ruby Seah said the apps have been a success since they were introduced in the middle of last year, adding that they also "relieve the need for repetitive teaching".

Started in 1979, the Awwa School now caters to 262 students aged between seven and 18.

Dr Tan joined students who were learning through an "augmented reality" app called Aurasma, which overlays real- world images with animation and videos.

He took part in a festive lo hei - a local tradition in which people toss raw fish and shredded vegetables during Chinese New Year for good fortune - with more than 100 school staff and students and watched a lion dance performance by the students.

Eleven-year-old Theodore Wong, who has autism, presented Dr Tan with an art piece depicting a golden horse designed by him and his schoolmates.

Said the pupil: "I was happy to meet President Tan and do the lo hei with him."

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