Today I’m visiting the China Disabled Person’s Federation to deliver a presentation to the teachers and therapists on the topic of assistive technology. The centre was about a two drive from the offices of Honeycomb Technologies and well away from the tourist centre of Shenzhen where I am staying.
The China Disabled Person’s Federation is a government organisation housed in a huge gated building where it delivers a wide range of services to disabled people and their families.As ever in this part of China, the traffic was busy but we arrived in good time to set up my equipment and after a kind introduction from a centre manager, it was straight into my presentation. The centre describes its services as ‘rehabilitation’ and most of their work is assessing people for aids to living such as wheelchairs, hoists and baths although they are keen to expand their work into education.This was my first presentation in China with an ‘official’ interpreter and it’s always difficult knowing the language and pace to use to ensure that your message is not lost in the translation. I do have to say that my translator was excellent. She even joined in with some of my very bad singing.Presentations aren’t just about lectures. Most of the colleagues I am speaking to in China have no experience of assistive technology and were very keen to spend some ‘hands-on’ time trying it out for themselves. I’ve always believed this is where colleagues begin to make the connections between the technology and the students they work with.With the session over, I was taken to visit the assistive technology showroom. This area has been set up to showcase the various adaptations the centre is able to offer and serves as a base for assessments. It’s a pretty impressive space housing everything from wheelchairs that can climb stairs through to easy to pull bath plugs. Honeycomb Technologies have recently set up an ‘Inclusive Classroom’ area in the space where colleagues can try out some of the devices.
Wherever I travel in the world, I am often asked to help with the assessment of young people, especially where things are not working out as expected. During my visit to the centre, I met this young man called Dabo.Dabo is fourteen and really enjoys using the computer however he finds using the keyboard a real struggle as his muscle tone is very poor and he tires very easily. He uses a laptop and is an absolute whiz with the touch pad, demonstrating excellent control and accuracy. It only took a couple of minutes to set up an on-screen keyboard and show him how to use it before he was away, loading up his favourite web site by entering the url with the on-screen keyboard and showing me the games he enjoys playing. No additional technology, no extra cost to his parents, just a simple solution that works for Dabo.
Tomorrow I’m travelling to the Longgang District to visit the Siqi Children’s Development Centre.