Visit to Infocomm Accessibility Centre

It was an enriching Wednesday evening for me as I toured around the Infocomm Accessiblity Centre (IAC) with other bloggers. It provided another perspective towards information technology for me as the IAC is a centre which aims to bridge the digital divide by making a wide variety of training available to all people with disabilities (PWDs).


The IAC is managed by the Society for the Physically Disabled, supported by IDA Singapore, MCYS and NCSS, and consists of sponsors such as Microsoft Singapore.
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The IAC helps in equipping students with industry-relevant computing skill to improve employment prospects or simply to have the knowledge of using the computer to communicate and retrieve information more effectively.


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The work area for the IT Apprenticeship Programme (ITAP)
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The ITAP provides on-the-job training and seeks to develop relevant work competencies in trainees through self-paced training modules, commercial projects and internship placements. I learnt that trainees can be trained in two main areas - Corporate service or multimedia design. Corporate service includes administrative support, management support and book-keeping; whereas multimedia design consists of visual communications, web design and video editing.


We also toured around the Specialised Assistive Technology Centre where there is the Assistive Technology Loan Library where Assistive Technology (AT) devices are available for loan to individuals with special needs. By these trial use, these individuals can make better informed decisions about the suitability of the device before purchasing. These AT devices are also loaned out to IAC's clients and students, and cater to a range of physical disabilities and visual impairments.


Various switches for various everyday devices such as cameras, radio, and even toys!
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For example, in the picture below, the electronic duck and rabbit soft toys are only moveable when one puts it to the 'ON' mode by pushing a tiny button at the bottom of the toys. It seems like a very easy task to do but it may not be 'do-able' for people with certain physical disabilities. Hence, if the person can do bigger movements such as hitting something, AT helps in overcoming this limitation by attaching a switch (the big red button as seen in the pic below), so that the person can hit it in order to activate the 'ON' button for the duck and rabbit toys.


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Even a DSLR camera can be adapted for individuals. The camera shutter function will be activated when one hits on the switch (the green frog head as seen in the picture below).

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There's also the alternative computer mouse too.
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There must have been times where you detest the aching fingers, wrists and arms from the excessive typing due to the long hours you spend in front of the computer? Well, I did. Or you take for granted that you are able to type as quick as lightning? Wait till you type onto an on-screen keyboard, not with your hands but through the movement of your head and your eye blinks.


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This is actually done by putting on a pair of eyewear where there is actually a silver dot at the middle. The webcam attached on the computer screen detects the movement made by the user via that silver dot. In this way, it acts as a computer mouse. I had to move my head slowly and in small distances so as to press the intended alphabet key, as any big movement will cause the mouse cursor to move to the other side of the screen.


Me typing using the AT device - To visit my blog online.
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And to do the single or double click, it is done through the blinking of the eye. Imagine the need for me to not blink till I make the right selection on the on-screen keyboard. And when I "kan-cheonged" for a moment, my eyes started to blink incessantly and random selections were being made. It was a slow process for me, which tested my determination and patience. For certain individuals, this is their only way to perform their daily computing task, and yet we take for granted what we are able to do... So I think we must salute to them.


I think it was a slow process for Claudia too.
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There's also alternative communication devices such as this.
By pressing the pictures, it forms sentences so that people with speech disabilities are able to communicate effectively.

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In the picture below, you can see a keyboard that is unlike the usual kinds that most of us use. This is because it is one of the various types of alternative keyboards catered for PWDs. With its bright yellow and magnified alphabets, it assists the visually impaired to type more effectively and efficiently.


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A video of an AT-enabled device...




There are other alternative keyboards such as the ones in the pictures below. It was my first time seeing such special keyboards, and I must say that I was amazed how the keyboards were designed for people with different needs.


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The keyboard in the picture below is really special. It only consists of necessary commands such as the four-directional arrows, space, enter, shift and backspace. The alphabet keys are arranged in alphabetical order, and with basic punctuations such as the full-stop, question mark and exclamation mark.


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See the sheets of paper in the picture below? The area where they are placed on is actually a scanning bed. The scanner is able to scan documents (even handwritten ones) and it can even magnify the scanned documents so that users are able to see the text in the documents easier.


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We were also shown three training rooms that cater to various training such as multimedia and music. We witnessed how special software complement with everyday gadgets and devices such as piano keyboards and Apple Macs so as to produce impressive music, songs and videos.


The training rooms
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Be a part of the 'SOW – It’s Time To Grow' campaign!

Register yourself for a tour around the IAC to witness the IT training provided for people across all disabilities types! Simply choose the from the various 3 days where visits will be conducted. Register now at this website - Click (HERE).


The ‘SOW – It’s Time To Grow’ campaign to encourage the public to Know Somebody, Grow Somebody and sign up someone they know with disabilities who has little or no computer knowledge to take up one of the many Infocomm Technology (IT) courses offered at IAC. For more information of Infocomm Accessibility Centre and the courses they offer, do visit their website at http://iacentre.org.sg.

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