[Special Interview – Chien-Yu Lin] Assistive Devices- Facilitating Children with Disabilities

by Liang-Jie Lin

This time, we visited Prof. Chien-Yu Lin from the Department of Special Education at Tainan University. Teaching at the M.A program in assistive devices, Lin has worked with teachers and students to develop a series of devices for students with disabilities. With their work on fine-tuning and teaching programs related to self-making, every bit of effort has given children with disabilities in Taiwan access to more assistive devices and mobility aids.

Encouraging children to get involved and working together for a common goal

“I started all these because I see the need on children with disabilities,” said Prof. Lin with a smile. Lin teaches at an M.A. program where students are mostly physical therapists, occupational therapists, and teachers in special education. Because of this, her students sometimes bring up challenges they face in practice, which often lead to new projects or innovative designs.

Professor Lin & her team working on various external switches (Photo: Yan-Zhu Wang)

Lin and her team received subsidies after joining the Smart Seeds Union a few years ago. Starting from projects where end products were made of paper, they are now using solid 3D-printing material, and products can be designed catering to different needs to better facilitate users’ life.

External pushbutton switch by Lin & her team (Photo: Liang-Jie Lin)

Jar to Happiness- Love spread all over Taiwan

Developed by Prof. Lin and her team, Jar to Happiness is an interactive design for children with disabilities to deal with different motion tasks. There are different shapes on the lid where users can throw in blocks that are spherical, triangle, or coin-shaped.

The Jar to Happiness (Photo: Yan-Zhu Wang)

At the end of 2018, Prof. Lin launched the Gathering Happy, Advancing with Courage program. Nearly 600 jars were sent all over Taiwan, and the team visited every household to teach users how to use it. There will also 3D image files with instructions on the Internet for users’ reference to 3D-print and assemble the jar by themselves.

Forming an association to help more in need- Sound to Happiness underway

In addition to R&D of various external switches, Prof. Lin and her team are currently working on a prototype recorder- Sound to Happiness, which also receives countless feedback from many teachers.

A simple recorder- Sound to Happiness (Photo:Yan-Zhu Wang)

On the other hand, Prof. Lin is trying to establish an association, so that her team could have comprehensive support and backup upon assisting the disabled children and designing personalized device. On the other hand, to lower costs for buying equipment for users, the team looks forward to teaching teachers, parents, and anyone in need to build simple aids using items that people have access to in their daily life.

Group picture from the interview (Source: Prof. Chien-Yu Lin)