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Singapore Government

Assistive Technology and Digital Inclusion

Assistive Technology and Digital Inclusion

Header banner for Assistive technology and digital inclusion, depicting persons with disabilities using computers, mobile devices, and communicating with hearing aids.

In 1999, MOE launched the Assistive Technology (AT) fund for students in primary and secondary schools, and those in pre-university levels.
  • The MOE AT Fund provides assistive learning devices for students with sensory and physical impairments.

In October 2003, then-MCYS launched the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF).
  • The ATF was set up to provide means-tested subsidies for persons with disabilities to acquire assistive technology devices to study, take part in employment training, or work. The lifetime cap was $10,000.
  • In August 2015, the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) was enhanced by raising the lifetime cap and by extending the ATF coverage. The enhancement raised the lifetime cap from $20,000 to $40,000.
  • Coverage was also extended beyond education and employment, to include other purposes such as therapy or rehabilitation, and independence in daily living.

In January 2005, NCSS appointed SPD’s Assistive Technology Centre as the Specialised Assistive Technology Centre (ATC).
  • The Specialised ATC provides a range of services from AT assessment to the provision of training courses on use of AT devices and prescription of suitable AT devices. It conducts practice-related training to build capability in AT and provide advice, consultations and coaching sessions to serve people with disabilities.
  • In 2012, it was reappointed as a Centre of Specialisation for Assistive Technology (AT) training and capability building.
  • The ATC is located at Tech Able, an assistive technology centre jointly launched in October 2015 by SG Enable and SPD. Tech Able aims to promote the adoption of assistive technologies among persons with disabilities and employers, so as to enable persons with disabilities to live, travel and work independently.
  • It comprises an assessment centre, an AT loan library, a smart home/office technology showcase and an event space.
  • Visit Tech Able's web app and take a tour of Tech Able.

In 2008, SPD's ATC, with IMDA's support, established Asia’s first AT loan library.
  • The loan library aims to help persons with disabilities and SSAs identify and trial IT/AT devices and software before purchasing them to determine which tools were suitablefor their needs. 
    It is available to the general public for loan of IT/AT devices, with a wide range of  assistive devices available for loan for the purpose of trial use, training and temporary accomodation.
  • The ATC and loan library are located at Tech Able, an assistive technology centre jointly launched in October 2015 by SG Enable and SPD. 

In 2011, MOH launched the Seniors Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF).
  • SMF supports caregivers in caring for seniors at home. It provides subsidies to offset the costs of assistive devices and home healthcare items.

Building Up Technological Capabilities of the Sector and Creating New Platforms to Spur Innovation

Since 2018, IMDA and SPD set up 8 satellite Information Technology / Assistive Technology (IT/AT) Loan Libraries in polytechnics and ITE colleges.
  • The eight satellite loan libraries are aimed to help students from their respective schools identify and trial IT/AT devices and software before purchasing them, to determine which tools were suitable for their needs.
  • They are located at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, ITE College Central, ITE College East, ITE College West, in addition to the IT/AT Loan Library at SPD.

In 2019, Engineering Good, a non-profit organisation empowering disadvantaged communities through humanitarian engineering, organised the Tech for Good Festival to spur youth to develop innovative solutions for persons with disabilities.
  • The festival is an innovation challenge for passionate and creative youths aged 15-25 to develop innovative solutions that will benefit persons with disabilities and their families/caregivers.
  • SG Enable connected and involved end users in this event, and also shared insights on the AT scene and the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, leading to the creation of innovative ideas and prototypes to benefit the local community with special needs.

Helping Persons with Disabilities Develop Digital Literacy Skills

In 2020, MOE announced the National Digital Literacy Programme (NDLP) which will expose students from mainstream and SPED schools to new technologies and provide lessons on cyber wellness.
  • This programme will allow students in mainstream schools to acquire digital skills across four components in the “Find, Think, Apply, Create” framework.
  • As part of the NDLP, students will also learn to employ technology using their own personal learning devices (PLDs), to enhance their learning in independent and collaborative settings.
    • All students in mainstream secondary schools will have their own PLDs by end-2021.
    • In SPED schools, students will likewise use PLDs to strenghten digital literacy. This will be done in phases accordingly as their school-based Digital Literacy Programmes come onstream. 

MOE supports the delivery of digital education in SPED by providing SPED schools with teaching and learning resources.
  • In 2019, four SPED schools collaborated with IMDA in a pilot to deliver digital education and incorporate Basic Digital Skills into their academic curriculum.
  • In 2020, the Baseline Digital Skills training was also introduced to support SPED students in acquiring basic digital skills (e.g. cyber wellness, cyber security, information literacy, using digital technologies in day-to-day activities) needed in our digitally enhanced society.

Enhancing Access to Assistive Technology and Leveraging Design for Independent Living

In July 2019, MSF launched a cross-sectoral Workgroup on promoting independent living through the use of technology and design.
  • The workgroup is co-chaired by then-MOS(SF) Sam Tan (2019-2020), Minister (SF) Masagos Zulkifli (2020-present), and Former President and Advisory Panel Member/SPD, Ms Chia Yong Yong (2019-present), and comprises representatives from public agencies, the people sector, and the private sector.
  • The workgroup aimed to study how technology and design in homes and the community can better help those with special needs live independently.
  • The workgroup released its recommendations in April 2021.

The Assistive Technology Fund was enhanced in January 2020 to improve affordability for persons with disabilities.
  • The monthly per capita household income (PCHI) to qualify for the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) was raised from $1,800 to $2,000 to allow more persons with disabilities to qualify.
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