Mr Teo Peng Peng, 48, is deaf and lost his left leg in a car accident 16 years ago. Over an afternoon chat, Peng Peng shared more of his story with us, which is recounted here by SPD’s senior advocacy analyst Poh Sho Siam.
At the office where he is working, Peng Peng came prepared with written answers on a piece of paper. Having received some questions ahead of the interview, he did his ‘homework’ and was waving it with a smile. Also present were Raymond Tang, SPD’s employment support specialist who has known Peng Peng for two years, and Yew Hau En, another SPD colleague who helped out as our sign language interpreter.
Peng Peng started by sharing how he acquired his disability. He signed that when he was three or four years old, he fell from a tree and his ears bled, causing him to lose his hearing. He added that he was a mischievous boy. About 16 years ago, he met with a car accident and had to amputate his left leg. Since then, he has been using a pair of crutches to get around.
Through SPD’s Employment Support Programme (ESP), Peng Peng is now permanently employed as a material handler at Bolloré Logistics, an international transport and logistics company, for the past two years. Supportive of inclusion in its workforce, Bolloré Logistics also engages 10 trainees with disabilities from SPD’s Sheltered Workshop for contract assignments at its premises.
Peng Peng’s job involves labelling and packing of products. He communicates with his co-workers and supervisors by writing and gesturing, and using pictures at times. He does not feel that being unable to speak impairs his ability to communicate with his colleagues. When he was new to his job, he was confused with the labelling, but his colleagues guided him and corrected his mistakes. Now, he is able to guide newcomers and he is also teaching one of his colleagues simple sign language.
Regarding employment, Peng Peng felt that although it was not easy for someone with hearing impairment to look for jobs, people generally did not see him differently as he could take up physically laborious jobs such as those in warehousing and wine delivery. However, looking for jobs became much more difficult after he acquired his physical disability. He was rejected many times and recalled that his colleagues at his previous job were not able to accept his physical disability.
Things are different at Bolloré Logistics. For example, his supervisor makes sure that he has priority boarding the company bus. His company also provides a wheelchair outside his work room exclusively for his use in the event of emergencies.
With a job, he is able to support his family. As such, Peng Peng hopes that more companies and supervisors would give people with disabilities a chance to work.
Peng Peng’s cheery disposition was evident during the interview. He took the opportunity to catch-up and engage in friendly banter with Raymond. Raymond said: “Peng Peng is an easy-going person. I hope that other people with disabilities would look to him as an example and be encouraged to look for employment and continue to work hard.” Peng Peng’s supervisors also complimented him as a humble worker who is willing to learn. He is independent despite his physical limitation and produces quality work fast.
During his free time, Peng Peng likes to watch television and spend time with his wife and two teenage children. To Peng Peng, they are his motivation when he faces difficulties. He was beaming proudly while mentioning them.
When asked what encouragement he would like to give others, he wrote, “Don’t give up when you are facing difficulties. Keep working hard. Keep on fighting though it is hard!”
Thank you Peng Peng for sharing your story with us!