This is a discussion on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) within the Parenting Special Needs Child forum, part of the MummySG Special Group category; Tapping technology that enables Pilot study notes positive impact of assistive technology, but lack of knowledge among caregivers and teachers ...
Tapping technology that enables
Pilot study notes positive impact of assistive technology, but lack of knowledge among caregivers and teachers
by Leong Wee Keat, 04:46 AM Aug 29, 2011
SINGAPORE - Communicating with her special needs child Sukhveer Singh used to be "frustrating", his mother admitted. The eight-year-old could only utter monosyllabic words, and Mrs Singh could hardly understand what he wanted.
But with the help of communication charts comprising pictures and symbols at Rainbow Centre Singapore, which Sukhveer attends, he is now able to communicate in complete sentences.
"Before, he could only say he wanted to 'makan' (eat)," Mrs Singh said. "Now, he can use various symbols to tell me what he wants to eat, such as rice, noodles or cake."
The communication charts are among the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices introduced by the Rainbow Centre Singapore in an effort to boost its students' communication skills.
Generally known as assistive technology, these devices have had "a positive impact on the users", according to a pilot study commissioned by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).
Increased participation in activities, enhanced competence and confidence, higher productivity and greater independence were reported by powered mobility users as well as users of AAC and computer access devices.
Close to 900 participants took part in the year-long study conducted by the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD).
Assistive technology devices include hearing aids, computer-related devices and synthesizer software, which improve the capabilities of disabled persons.
But the study also found that people with disabilities, as well as caregivers and professionals who work with them, have limited knowledge of assistive technology and have not been able to benefit fully from it.
Professionals working with people with disabilities such as principals, teachers and therapists working in special education schools and other community settings also felt that more training is necessary in order to prescribe it.
Teacher Veer Kaur, who coordinates the initiative at Rainbow Centre Singapore, said the centre is trying to get more parents and caregivers play a more active role in the use of assistive technology. Last month, the centre conducted its first training workshop for 30 parents and caregivers.
Teachers at the Rainbow Centre have noticed greater student participation during classes which, in turn, has spurred learning. "Children with AAC have shown improvement all round in terms of their behaviour, independence, self confidence, class participation and social interaction," Ms Kaur added.
NCSS deputy chief executive Tina Hung said it aims to raise greater awareness and promote the use of assistive technology with SPD's help. "In this way, we can help more people with disabilities to realise their fullest potential," she added.
NCSS and SPD will explore opportunities and suitable platforms to increase awareness of assistive technology among the public as well as professionals.
To increase the application and adoption of such technology in special education schools, they will also work together to enhance the capabilities of these professionals. A public forum on the use of the technology will be organised for caregivers of children with disabilities.
There are also plans to reach out to stakeholders such as the Centre for Enabled Living to raise awareness among caregivers and staff at voluntary welfare organisations in the intermediate and long-term care sectors.
The Centre for Enabled Living, which administers the Assistive Technology Fund, said it helped over 160 persons with disabilities between 2009 and last year. These include children with hearing aids, adults with motorised wheelchairs and software for the visually impaired.
Last edited by Angelmum; 02-09-2011 at 09:07 PM.
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