Assistive Technology Demo Center opens doors for persons living with disabilities in Thimphu

To enable and empower persons living with disabilities with assistive technology, an Assistive Technology or AT Demo Centre has been opened at the Youth Development Fund Centre in Thimphu. PHENSEM- Parents Support Group, a civil society organisation, with support from the Bhutan Foundation, opened the centre today. Assistive technology includes tools and devices that help a person to do everyday chores with ease including support with hand mobility to computers reading text out loud for the visually impaired.

The Assistive Technology Demo Centre showcases various assistive tools for persons with disabilities and provides services such as consultations, training, resources, and capacity building related to the use of assistive technology.

Assistive technology enhances inclusivity by helping persons with disabilities maintain or improve their functional capabilities, thereby promoting well-being.

“We will have children and their parents, caregivers, coming in here to talk about what problems they have, how we can find solutions at home itself with resources that are around, nothing expensive. Also, we will hold sessions where kids can come and learn how to use, especially if you see all these computer-based solutions that are there for children who can learn even if they cannot hold a pen and write or read what is in front of them in a book, they can still learn,” said Prashanti Pradhan, co-founder/ executive director of PHENSEM- Parents Support Group.

Moreover, she added that it will reduce the mental and physical burden or stress for the parents who constantly assist their child, enabling the child to do things independently.

During the inauguration, Dasho Dechen Wangmo, the Head of The PEMA Secretariat emphasised the need to support the potential of children living with disabilities to navigate simple aspects of life, such as being able to take care of themselves and being able to differentiate good from bad, among other skills.

“We do not need Lego toys, we can use what we have at home to improve their memory, improve their skills. So, I also feel that there are a lot of things at our disposal that we can do. It is just that we need a little bit of knowledge. Traditionally, people living with disabilities are sidelined stating that they would not be able to do anything. I guess these are compassion but compassion is so grossly misplaced. We do not see the potential that a child holds but we see their disability first. So, I think that mindset needs to come out. That mindset needs to be changed.”

PHENSEM- Parents Support Group has plans to create awareness of the acceptance and use of assistive technology in Paro, Gelephu, Phuentsholing and Zhemgang.

Currently, the group has over 200 parents of children living with disabilities and over 200-member supporters of the group.

The group was registered as a Civil Society Organisation in 2020 with a vision to empower parents of persons with disabilities to become parent advocates and work towards an inclusive society.

According to the Population and Housing Census 2017, over 15,000 individuals in the country are living with some form of disability.

Kinzang Lhadon

Edited by Phub Gyem

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