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An Overview of Assistive Technology

Posted on April 15, 2019 by Ann

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What is assistive technology?

When we see the word “technology”, some of us might think of expensive high tech expensive gizmos like talking robot butlers. But in fact, assistive technology (AT) means any device or tool that helps to improve the life of someone with a disability. These devices encompasses an entire range from high tech to low tech products, and can be as simple and affordable as an adaptive pencil grip.

Who needs assistive technology?


(Source: Priority Assistive Products List, World Health Organization, France, 2016)

What kind of assistive technology should I get?

There are countless ATs out there. Here are some examples:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools and Global Positioning System (GPS) (more info)
  • Hearing Impairment: Hearing aids, assistive hearing devices, and light and vibration alarms (more info)
  • Intellectual Disability: Alternative keyboards and mice (more info)
  • Physical Disability: Canes, wheelchairs, and ramps (more info)
  • Visual Impairment: Braille devices, electronic magnifiers, screen readers, and white canes (more info)

As caregivers, how do we select the AT that is most suitable for our child? We would want to avoid getting an inappropriate AT that might do more harm than good.

The best way is to get an AT assessment by a therapist. The therapist can then evaluate the needs, abilities and limitations of the child and recommend the most suitable AT.

You can also:

  • find out more about AT by visiting Tech Able, a facility that showcases AT when it reopens. (15 April 2019: Tech Able’s exhibition space is currently closed for renovation works.)

Tech Able

  • visit AT loan libraries for help in identifying and trialing AT before purchasing them:
    • Assistive Technology Loan Library by SPD: Wide range of AT for trials, training and temporary accommodation; deposit and nominal rental fees apply
    • satellite loan libraries in Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support Offices in Institutes of Higher Learning for students studying at those institutes:
    • Ngee Ann Polytechnic (coming soon)
    • Singapore Polytechnic (coming soon)

How do I get an assistive technology assessment?

If your child is receiving support from disability service providers (e.g. VWO, special education schools) or hospitals, you can speak to their therapists or social workers to request for an AT assessment. For example, children with cerebral palsy can seek assistance from the Assistive Technology Clinic at Cerebral Palsy Centre.

Other touchpoints that provide consultation services on AT include:

If your child is not receiving regular support from a touchpoint, you can request for an assessment by emailing the completed Assistive Technology Referral Form to atc@spd.org.sg. SPD will then contact you to make arrangements. For more information, you can call 6473 0446.

When should my child get an assistive technology assessment?

You should go for an assessment whenever your child experiences a change in his/her abilities, tasks to be performed, or physical environment.
You should also consider a periodic assessment as your child will be growing up and there may be new products in the market.

Where can I get assistive technology?

For Purchases

Depending on the type of disability, you can check with the hospitals and various touchpoints for products and lists of local distributors.

For example, Assistive Technology Clinic (Cerebral Palsy Centre) may recommend a purchase and provide quotations for the AT. Vibrating alarms and other ATs can be purchased from Singapore Association for the Deaf. Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped even produces materials in Braille. Last but not least, for low tech AT, you might want to take a look at All In’s shop.

For Loans

  • Assistive Technology Loan Library by SPD: Wide range of AT for trials, training and temporary accommodation; deposit and nominal rental fees apply
  • Satellite loan libraries in Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support Offices in Institutes of Higher Learning for students studying at those institutes 
  • SAVH Library: Free reading service to loan audio books, Braille books, movies and music CDs for its members

If you are trialing an AT, here is a AT Trial Log Template you can use.

How can I get financial assistance for assistive technology?

Here are some schemes that can help with the cost of AT:

We hope you have found the information and tools on our website useful in supporting you and your loved ones in this journey of self-discovery!

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