Assistive technology solutions for SEN schools and persons with disabilities at Fab Festival

From robotic arms to braille machines and 3D printer prototypes, fab labs from across the country showcased their assistive technology solutions for Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools and persons with disabilities. The prototypes and devices were presented at the second Fab Festival in the capital today. SEN schools from across the country attended the daylong event.

The prototypes are expected to help enhance accessibility, inclusivity, and independence for SEN schools and persons with disabilities.

Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck Super Fab Lab, College of Science and Technology Fab Lab, College of Natural Resources Bio-Fab Lab, Technical Trainers Training Resource Centre Fab Lab, Choego Fab Lab and Druk Gyalpo Institute Fab Lab developed the prototypes.

“To be honest, currently, there is no assistive tech ecosystem in the country. Everything is being imported from outside. When it is imported, it needs customisation again because every person’s needs are different, like their hands and their sizes. When there are different needs, everything needs customisation. So, this event is important because we need to show that these can be made and customised in the country,” said Tshering Wangzom, Programme Coordinator of Bhutan Fab Lab Network.

She added that assistive technologies are not just for persons with disabilities but for the elderly community.

A few participants who attended the event shared that such assistive technologies will benefit them.

“It was a great pleasure to attend this festival. Over here I learnt many new things. I feel that this will be very much useful to the SEN community. With all this knowledge, I could not only copy their works but also use their ideas to modify and make something for the SEN community,” said Chencho Namgyel, a student of Drukgyel Higher Secondary School in Paro.

“I have noticed that the assistive technologies presented were user-friendly for our children with disabilities. It was indeed encouraging to see that these technologies can be developed in our own country. I would like to recommend that if such events are held with input from those who understand the needs of persons with disabilities, it will greatly benefit all persons with disabilities, especially children,” said Khandu Wangmo, Inclusive Coordinator at Drugyel Higher Secondary School.

“I am very excited that I got the chance to participate in today’s event because it embraces inclusive education as well as an inclusive social culture in our country. Such events are important, particularly for SEN schools and for people with disabilities, so that we feel empowered,” said Yeshi Gyaltshen, a teacher at Wangsel Institute for the Deaf in Paro.

Following the successful Fab Festival last year, the Bhutan Fab Lab Network organised the event this year. It was funded by the Bhutan Foundation.

Tashi Dekar

Edited by Tshering Zam 

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