IT subsidy scheme to cover more needy students and people with disabilities

A person with disabilities, who has limited wrist movement, seen working as an IT support assistant in a file photo taken in 2010.
A person with disabilities, who has limited wrist movement, seen working as an IT support assistant in a file photo taken in 2010.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An existing scheme that makes computers and broadband connectivity more affordable for needy students and people with disabilities has been enhanced to benefit more people.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim announced on Thursday (July 21) two changes to eligibility criteria for the Infocomm Development Authority's (IDA) NEU PC Plus programme, which allows beneficiaries to buy new computers at a discount of up to 75 per cent, bundled with three years of free broadband access.

From Sept 1, the monthly household income cap will be raised from $3,000 to $3,400. This is expected to benefit another 5,000 families over five years.

In addition, the application process for special education (Sped) students will be streamlined such that those on the Ministry of Education's Sped Financial Assistance Scheme will automatically qualify for the subsidies.

Dr Yaacob also announced that a new wheelchair-accessible IDA Lab on Wheels bus will be rolled out to bring technology to the special needs community. It will showcase infocomm and assistive technologies, and offer workshops with customised curriculum for different special needs such as cerebral palsy and autism.

The bus will travel to community centres, shopping malls and Sped schools.

Dr Yaacob made these announcements at Enable Empower Connect (E2Connect), an inaugural forum to raise awareness of the positive impact of technology on people with disabilities.

Speaking at the event held at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru, he said: "As policymakers, our role is to provide the infrastructure and policies to create a more inclusive environment.

"This means... making technology accessible to those who need it, and ensuring that persons with disabilities can afford devices that suit their needs."

IDA deputy chief executive Leong Keng Thai said: "A smart nation is about people, not technology alone. It's about using tech to make people's lives better, creating new opportunities and building stronger communities; it's for everyone."