We thank Dr Bala S. Rajaratnam ("Smart nation for eldercare") and Dr William Tan Kian Meng ("Tech can 'enable' disabled people"; both published in Forum Online on Dec 4) for highlighting the importance of harnessing technology to improve the lives of seniors and people with disabilities.
The advancement of technology has made a huge impact in enhancing the lives of people with disabilities.
The availability of assistive technology has provided solutions that help these people overcome the limitations of their disabilities and participate more meaningfully in activities at home, in school, at work and in the community.
For instance, people with visual impairment can stay updated on the happenings around the world by using software that reads out information from the Internet, and individuals with speech impairment can communicate with others using speaking applications installed in tablets.
We have seen how lives have been enhanced and transformed at our Specialised Assistive Technology Centre. Through the use of these devices, people with disabilities can continue to work, return to school and be socially engaged.
In so doing, such technology can bridge the gap imposed by a disability and help those affected to build up their confidence, increase their self-reliance and improve their quality of life.
Over the years, the Government has implemented schemes, such as the Assistive Technology Fund and the Special Assistance Fund, that help people with disabilities to acquire assistive equipment.
It is encouraging to know that Singapore is embarking on the journey to becoming a smart nation, where technology will be used to drive inclusion, so that Singaporeans of all ages and abilities can lead more meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Funding support from schemes like the newly launched Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative will also encourage the development of more innovative projects and evidence-based solutions for the community.
While we look forward to greater technological advancements that can further break down barriers and encourage the inclusion of people with disabilities in community living, we also urge the Government to continue to consider the needs of people with disabilities when developing masterplans and policies, so that they do not get left behind in national planning.
This article was first published on Dec 15, 2014.
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