SINGAPORE: As a digital artist, Mohd Sayfullah is aware of that getting publicity on-line is essential. That’s the reason he mentions his Instagram artwork account when he introduces himself to others – besides, it’s no odd greeting.
Sayfullah makes use of an iPad to speak as he has a speech impairment.
A number of faucets on the machine is all it takes to summon a male voice, programmed to say: “My identify is Sayfullah. I shall be 18 years outdated. I attend college at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, CPAS.
“I’m a junior lab artist. I do digital artwork utilizing Microsoft Powerpoint. Observe me on my artistic and digital artwork journey on Instagram at artbysayfullah.”
Recognized with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which supplies him reasonable uncontrollable higher limb actions, Sayfullah’s speech impairment made it troublesome for him to speak with the folks round him.
“Each time we had a dialog, it’s between us, sure mum and son dialog, I can perceive him,” his mom and caregiver Mdm Fadillah instructed CNA. “However what occurs if there’s one other one that desires to strike a dialog with him?”
As soon as, when the 2 of them attended an occasion at Jurong Fowl Park, Sayfullah was requested for his identify and his age. Though he replied, folks couldn’t appear to know him and requested the identical query three or 4 instances, mentioned Mdm Fadillah.
The repeated questions pissed off Sayfullah, and Mdm Fadillah needed to step in to reply.
“I’ve to be the third voice,” mentioned Mdm Fadillah. “I discover that as time goes by, it’s more and more troublesome for folks to know his language, and I’ve to be there always to reply him and speak for him. In order that’s the place I suppose I’ve to do one thing.”
They began with image playing cards to assist Sayfullah categorical his ideas. However the playing cards had been cumbersome, and as Sayfullah’s vocabulary grew, they realised that they wanted a greater communication system.
After deciding that an iPad with specialised software program would match Sayfullah’s wants greatest, they sought assist from SPD, an area charity that helps folks with disabilities.
THE FITTING PROCESS
Tech Ready, an assistive expertise centre, offers a variety of gadgets to assist folks with disabilities, working with their purchasers to discover a appropriate answer for his or her wants.
A joint initiative by SPD and SG Allow, it’s situated on the Enabling Village. The centre consists of an evaluation centre, an assistive machine library and a sensible house and workplace expertise showcase.
That is the place Sayfullah and his mom met Ms Sarah Yong, the scientific head at SPD’s Specialised Assistive Expertise Centre.
“When Sayfullah first got here in, you possibly can see that he was a younger man that had quite a lot of issues to say,” Ms Yong mentioned. “Can see it in his eyes – he actually wished to have interaction folks. And he was really talking verbally, however he was very troublesome to be understood.”
By her interactions with Sayfullah, she discovered that he had a “fairly good” command of the language, and so he wanted a software with a “strong” language and vocabulary system. In addition they selected a tool with voice output, to permit Sayfullah to work together with folks round him.
There have been different concerns. Would he use it together with his palms or his eyes? Would he want a change? The place would they place the machine?
“We additionally wanted to consider him and the way we had been going to coach him,” mentioned Ms Yong.
“Initially, a person could also be prescribed with the communication machine, however due to years and years of not speaking with folks, they may not realise that they really have one thing to say.”
With all that in thoughts, they settled on an iPad with software program that permits Sayfullah to decide on his phrases from quite a lot of choices, earlier than taking part in it out as a full sentence.
As Sayfullah wanted to make use of the pc, the specialists additionally regarded into becoming him with an alternate mouse that will go well with his wants.
Shoppers are typically referred to them by hospitals, colleges, a buddy or a caregiver or walk-ins, mentioned Ms Yong.
“So we are going to take a look at the referral data, after which we are going to take into consideration what can be the most effective crew of assistive expertise professionals and specialists that will conduct the evaluation.”
Tech Ready’s 18-strong assistive expertise crew is interdisciplinary, mentioned Ms Yong. They embrace occupational therapists, speech therapists, engineers and an educator.
“We imagine in having this interdisciplinary crew as a result of it actually permits us to evaluate the shopper from many various angles and take a look at many various points, so we can provide an excellent answer,” she mentioned.
Assessors will take a look at purchasers’ strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Then they may assess their language and motor abilities, their environments, the place they may use the expertise and the duties they would wish to carry out.
TYPES OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Tech Ready’s gadgets might help folks with bodily disabilities, sensory disabilities akin to deafness and visible impairment, mental disabilities and autism, mentioned Mr Ron Loh, director of Enablers Improvement at SG Allow.
The Enablers Improvement crew works with organisations on tasks to enhance accessibility at work, colleges or on transport. This might contain putting in wheelchair ramps, or inserting tactile designs on the ground for folks with visible impairment.
The challenges that the incapacity group face are “fairly diverse”, and it is very important apply essentially the most applicable answer, mentioned Mr Loh. Which means that Tech Ready’s assessors don’t insist on essentially the most “high-tech” or revolutionary expertise, however essentially the most reasonably priced and accessible machine for the shopper.
Some examples of assistive expertise out there at Tech Ready embrace the Quha Gyroscopic Mouse, the Phonak Roger Pen and Mylink, in addition to Augmentative and Various Communication gadgets.
The gyroscopic mouse might be connected to any a part of the person’s physique, akin to the pinnacle, the wrist or the foot, permitting folks with bodily disabilities to entry the pc with out utilizing a conventional mouse.
The Phonak Roger Pen and MyLink is a wi-fi microphone and receiver. The microphone, formed like a pen, might be pointed at any supply of sound, transmitting it to the person’s listening to aids. It may be used at a distance and permits those that are hard-of-hearing to listen to higher whereas minimising background noise.
Augmentative and Various Communication instruments assist individuals who face difficulties speaking with others. It might probably take the type of image communication books, or customisable software program in sensible gadgets, identical to the one utilized by Sayfullah.
Earlier than purchasers make their purchases, they’ll mortgage the machine for a nominal price, mentioned Mr Loh.
For individuals who may have monetary help, SG Allow presents an Assistive Expertise Fund offering subsidies of as much as 90 per cent of the price of the machine.
“We imagine that within the applicable use of assistive expertise, it may significantly scale back the obstacles of inclusion for individuals with disabilities, be it throughout their work, research or of their each day residing,” he mentioned, including that Tech Ready has supported greater than 1,300 folks with disabilities for his or her assistive expertise wants thus far.
Such gadgets have made a world of distinction for purchasers like Sayfullah.
The iPad has boosted his confidence, mentioned Mdm Fadillah. “He is ready to name folks, even strangers. He’s in a position to state his preferences clearly. And after we exit, I don’t must be the third voice anymore.”
When requested if she sees a scenario the place Sayfullah may reside independently, Mdm Fadillah mentioned: “Positively.”
Whereas she nonetheless has to push him round in his wheelchair, she hopes that ultimately, he’ll be capable to use a motorised wheelchair to get round by himself.
This can permit him to be impartial, “to maneuver for himself, to speak for himself”, she mentioned. “He has the need to be like a standard teenager, to look at films by himself.”
As assistive expertise specialists, the problem is admittedly to assist people “maximise their potential”, mentioned Ms Yong.
“(It’s about) seeing the potential, contemplating the chances and actually contemplating their goals in order that we might help the shopper actually maximise their potential, do what they’ve all the time wished to do … With expertise, the sky’s the restrict.”
Watch this video to be taught extra about Sayfullah’s speech journey:
Editor’s notice: This text has been up to date to right the variety of folks in Tech Ready’s assistive expertise crew after the organisation amended the knowledge offered to CNA within the interview..