Tech Able has had a makeover, and you’re invited to drop by! From dedicated zones for live, work and play to an interactive web app with a virtual guide, it’s all about new experiences for self-exploration.
Nestled in Redhill is one of Singapore’s integrated spaces on assistive technology. Called Tech Able and located in the Enabling Village, it promotes the benefits of assistive technology adoption to support independent living. Tech Able provides consultation, assessment and training for persons with disabilities to use all kinds of assistive technology – from smart walking canes to virtual reality solutions that support learning.
Since opening its doors in 2015, Tech Able has provided consultations through SPD’s Assistive Technology specialists housed within the space. It has reached out to persons with disabilities and their caregivers on the adoption of appropriate assistive technology tools to help them in their daily lives. Apart from wheelchairs and assistive hearing devices, other tools commonly used include magnifiers, specialised keyboards, and modified switches for everyday devices and children’s toys.
Tech Able was given a makeover and re-opened in 2019 with new accessibility features. From the new open space layout to a tactile map that enables the visually impaired to orientate themselves in the new space, Tech Able offers an enhanced experience for persons with different disabilities.
“We responded to visitors’ feedback that they want to be able to self-explore and learn at their own pace. Hands-on experiences will also help visitors to Tech Able to retain information on assistive technology,” said Justin Seow, Assistant Manager at SG Enable.
The refreshed Tech Able now has new accessibility features to facilitate self-exploration. Let’s take a look at them.
1. New open space layout
Organised into four distinct zones for easy navigation, the walkways have been widened to provide extra clearance for wheelchair users and visitors who use canes or walkers. The four zones are also clearly marked, with each zone – Play and Innovation, Home, Work and Learn, and Mobility – offering examples of assistive technology, some of which can be loaned out to visitors at a nominal fee for testing in a home, office or school environment.
Featured devices include a smart walking cane with built-in speakers and a fall detection alarm, and virtual reality eyewear that allows users to see faraway objects up close.
Another change is that the carpeted flooring has been replaced with vinyl, which makes it easier for wheelchair users to move around. Tactile markers have been installed at various sections to let persons with visual impairment know that there’s directional audio above them.
2. Height-adjustable furniture
A height-adjustable desk is great for people who want the option to sit or stand at work. For people who move about in wheelchairs, it’s absolutely critical.
Tech Able also provides examples of height-adjustable desks and cabinets that help users see how they can make their homes and offices more accessible. These examples also make it easier for visitors to get up close and interact with the devices on display. Wheelchair users, for instance, can now position themselves close enough to a table top as the chair’s armrests will not get in the way.
In the Home zone, the space showcases kitchen tops and cupboards that can be electronically raised or lowered, making it easier for persons with disabilities to reach kitchen tools or utensils.
3. Digital screens & directional audio
Large digital screens have been installed in the different zones to provide information about the assistive technology devices on display. The centre provides directional audio to help visitors who might find it a challenge to interact with the digital screens. This includes information on the zone as well as the assistive technology devices around them. This makes for a more individualised experience as the sound is localised and mostly audible only to the person standing below it.
4. Braille map
To help visitors with visual impairment orientate themselves within the new space at Tech Able, tactile maps are put up at the two entrances to the centre. This map was co-created with persons with visual impairment. Using Braille and three-dimensional structures, the maps outline the centre’s layout and include a legend showing where the different zones are.
5. Interactive web app
Last but not least, the space has launched a new interactive web app that contains information about the assistive technology devices on display at Tech Able.
The app was designed to enhance the overall ease of use by persons with disabilities. For example, it is compatible with in-built screen readers and software on various devices, with hidden words used to describe pictures and icons (alternative text) to support readers who are visually impaired.
Visitors may also access the app at any time to find out more about the different devices, without having to physically visit Tech Able. Information presented on the app will be updated periodically.
The app features a “Tour” function, which allows users to select a virtual guide who will introduce the devices that are applicable to a disability type. This provides an accessible option for visitors who prefer to browse the devices on their own without visiting Tech Able.
Tech Able is open on weekdays at the Enabling Village, 20 Lengkok Bahru, from 9am to 5.30pm, excluding public holidays. For general enquiries, booking a consultation with a specialist or exploring collaboration opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.