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Singapore Government

Benefits of Smart Nation project for Persons with Disabilities

Benefits of Smart Nation project for Persons with Disabilities

Question

Ms Chia Yong Yong
Nominated Member of Parliament

To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development

(a) how will the Smart Nation project benefit persons with disabilities; and

(b) whether there will be initiatives that build assistive technology capabilities within the social service sector and increase access of persons with disabilities to technology and assistive technology devices.

Answer

Mdm Speaker, technology can be a very important enabler for persons with disabilities. As Singapore strives to become a Smart Nation, persons with disabilities would be able to benefit from a broad range of initiatives. In addition, the Government will have specific initiatives on infocomm and assistive technology to help persons with disabilities make use of suitable technology devices and solutions in their daily living, education, employment and interactions with others and in whatever areas that we think that we could apply those technologies in.

Some of these are already in the works. For example, from August this year, MSF will increase the lifetime cap and subsidy coverage of its Assistive Technology Fund. The changes will help more persons with disabilities and provide them greater support to defray the cost of purchasing or repairing their assistive devices. In education, for example, MOE already supports students with special needs in both mainstream and Special Education (SPED) schools through funding assistive technology devices and support services. Students studying in Institutes of Higher Learning can now tap on the Special Education Needs Fund to purchase devices to support their learning.

Besides individuals, we are also reaching out to Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) that serve persons with disabilities. VWOs can tap on grants to use infocomm and assistive technology in their programmes, for example, to improve communication and socialisation skills of their clients. SPED schools can also tap on a fund to upgrade their IT infrastructure and develop innovative projects.

To generate new solutions for persons with disabilities, a $30 million Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative Grant was launched in 2014 and administered by SG Enable, the grant scheme supports new ideas and innovative pilots that address cross-cutting issues on disability, including more effective use of data and technology. A grant call was made early this year to seek out ideas and solutions on using technology to improve the lives of persons with disabilities from both the private and VWO sectors. The results should be known in about a month’s time.​

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