Use tech to increase accessibility for the disabled

I am proud that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has donated $250,000 to help set up an award to nudge polytechnic students to come up with creative ways of using technology to improve lives and make us a Smart Nation ("Award for poly students' Smart Nation projects"; May 4).

It would be great if students can develop useful applications for people with disabilities.

People with disabilities often encounter numerous obstacles when they travel.

For example, many places in Singapore are still not accessible to wheelchair users due to bad design. Many places also still lack hearing-enhancement systems to assist hearing-aid users.

This could put some people with disabilities off and cause them to not participate socially as often as they can.

Accessibility information, or the lack of it, on the various amenities often makes or breaks a travel experience for people with disabilities.

This is important if we aspire to be a more inclusive society.

While I am not sure if it would be possible for businesses to monetise such applications, as there may be huge costs involved, I hope that there will be some charitable developers who will harness the current technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Eng Whan Seng