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Popular App enables users to experience the inconvenience of being disabled by holding onto a button on their smartphone

Reporter: Sabrina Poh

Holding a mouthwatering ice-cream cone, you are savoring a triple scoop under the hot sun. Oops, your cell phone suddenly rings and it looks like an urgent call. There is nothing to panic about, you may enjoy the ice-cream and take the call at the same time.

Wait, what if one of your hands is missing? Having only one hand means it may be tough or even impossible to pick up the phone and finish the ice cream cone.

Welcome to the iTunes application A Good Button.

It is a simple way to help you empathize with those with physical disabilities through direct experience. Experience it temporarily; build an understanding for life. The rules of the game are simple: Just press the button and hold it.

With one hand on the button, try to carry out daily tasks with your other hand and see how long you can hold on before letting go. At the end of the challenge, a question will appear, asking you how you feel after experiencing a disability for a certain number of seconds. You may either feel touched, challenged or moved.

A Good Button was developed by the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation to educate the general public on the difficulties and challenges faced by disabled people.

Most users find it meaningful and worth giving a try; so they share it with their friends.

Among them is Ann Yiu Fung-Yee, a second year students at Chinese University of Hong Kong. Yiu felt challenged after attempting to tie her shoelaces and put on a jacket whilst holding onto the button. She experienced disability for 183 seconds.

She thinks the application gives her a chance to experience how a disabled person lives, but has her doubts as well.

“In reality, [persons with disabilities] lives are harder than just pressing a button.”

However, Yiu says she has greater respect for the disabled because she never realized how difficult it could be to do even basic things like tying shoelaces.

Josephine Tan Soh-Hoon, a middle-aged housewife, was tasked with making breakfast and writing the address on the envelope with on hand.

It took her more than ten minutes to accomplish the two tasks. “Which hand is disabled makes a difference,” she says.

Tan was incapacitated on her right hand; her stronger hand. “I couldn’t even write; my writing was like a five-year-old,” she added.

“If you are disabled on your stronger hand, that makes everything much harder.”

In the end, both users felt challenged.

The Good Button application has become so popular, even local celebrities are lending their support. Some are willing to take on the challenge and allowing the processes to be video-taped.

Canto pop singer, actress and model Ella Koon appeared in a YouTube video for A Good Button. She attempted to mould plasticine while holding onto the button. Koon tells viewers she did not realize it would be so hard to do with one hand.

A Good Button can be downloaded for free at the iTunes store and is compatible with the iPhone, iTouch and iPad. So what are you waiting for?

Be good, hold the button. Take the challenge and keep holding on.