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Technology enables people with disabilities

Reporter: Miro Lu 丨 CCTV.com

02-23-2016 20:06 BJT

In Singapore, engineers are using technology to help disabled persons live a normal life and become better integrated with society. CCTV's Miro Lu has investigated some of the wearable gadgets that can assist reading and listening to bring us this report.

This is a device that has attracted lots of public attention. A ring that reads words aloud as you slide your finger along them.

The FingerReader is not meant for reading large volumes of text, but for business cards, menus, book titles and currency notes, it could be immensely helpful for people who are visually impaired.

Since its first prototype, the FingerReader has gone through several upgrades. The latest version is only months away from small volume manufacturing. The first batch will be distributed to blind groups in Singapore and the U.S. to see how this would perform in their lives.

Professor Suranga runs the Augmented Human Lab at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Other projects in the lab include vibrating chairs that help people can’t hear to “feel” music and portable "ears" that alert them when someone knocks on the door.

Although many of these designs started with persons with disabilities in mind, their inventors like to think that the devices have applications beyond their basic usage.

"FingerReader, if you are blind, you can use it to read text and pick the right thing. If you are sighted, maybe you can use it as a translator to help you when you are travelling. As a kid, you can use it as a language learning tool. So it has use cases, so me wearing FingerReader doesn’t classify me as disability, so in a way the technology is helping to make communities connected," said Suranga Nanayakkara, asst. professor of Singapore Univ. of Technology and Dessign.

In the newly-launched Enabling Village, people with disabilities can try out and even borrow the latest gadgets that may help them live more independently or work more efficiently.

"Enabling Village is an inclusive community space that’s dedicated to persons with disabilities and we seek to provide a whole host of services, career advisory, assistive technology advisory to persons with disabilities. Technology in particular is a very very useful platform for persons with disabilities to leverage more and to fully realise their potential at a work place," said Ku Geok Boon, CEO of SG Enable.

Thanks to technology, visually impaired Siew Ling can work as a personal assistant. Her job includes scheduling meetings for her boss via emails and phone calls. She says she wouldn’t be able to do all that without technology - and being ABLE to do things gives Siew Ling the most satisfaction.

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