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October 9, 2005

Plans to include deaf, blind and elderly in portal

From: Malaysia Star, Malaysia - Oct 9, 2005

WITH all the information available at the GROW portal, it might be surprising that it is still not launched officially.

Project consultant Eugenie Tan says: "After getting it done, we were supposed to say we are ready now. But then we also realised it is only in Bahasa, so are we ready when the public comes in and it's not in English? That's why we are translating it now and doing the same work for the English version so that it fits into the system."

This is where the GROW council hit a snag.

The grant money has been entirely used up on hardware, software and the setting up of the whole system behind this website, which also features videos and animation.

Part of that funding went into setting up computers and an Internet connection in a few Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) centres in Gombak where the pilot project was conducted.

This was to gauge how effective the website would be when used in a real-life situation and to obtain feedback.

But there is a lot more to be done.

Says Dr Aminah: "We have covered children – 0 to seven years old. But there are still other aspects that have still not been covered.

"For example, we have only covered children with physical problems. We haven't touched on children with visual problems."

Part of the reason that the deaf and blind were not included in Stage One of GROW is that their respective local bodies, such as the Malaysian Association for the Blind, already have their own programmes to help parents spot development problems and to help in early intervention.

"What we need to do is to link from our portal to their website for certain things that are already available. We don't want to reinvent, so we will link with the projects that are already online," says Dr Aminah.

Stage Two, says Tan, will involve having an English version of the site as well as including information or links to resources for the blind and the deaf. It will also include a section on the elderly.

Tan says that exercises and therapy for the elderly is an important area because the population of elderly is growing significantly.

According to a report by associate professor Dr John T. Arokiasamy of the Department of Social & Preventive Medicine at University Malaya's Faculty of Medicine (, the elderly aged 60 years and over in Malaysia are projected to increase to about four million (11.3% of the population) by the year 2020.

With this rapid growth of an ageing population, GROW is aware that there will be a demand for information on therapy for the elderly as well as resources on how to handle various physical problems for senior citizens.

Hopefully in the future more information on rehabilitation exercises will be just a click away. – By BRIGITTE ROSARIO

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