Infocomm Accessibility Centre Ramps Up Efforts to Increase Opportunities for People with Disabilities

7 October 2009 – The Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IAC), which provides structured industry-relevant infocomm training to people across disability types, today held its first graduation ceremony for trainees who have undergone its IT Apprenticeship Programme (ITAP). In line with the Infocomm Development Authority Intelligent Nation 2015 Masterplan’s aim of bridging the digital divide as well as the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports Enabling Masterplan’s goal of creating equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities, this programme provides on-the-job training and structured, industry-relevant courses for trainees to pick up skills needed in the workplace. Each trainee has a customised apprenticeship tailored for them according to their ability level and interest.

Today, 20 trainees were honoured and presented with graduation certificates for successfully completing the course. Held at the IAC, this was the inaugural ITAP Graduation Ceremony. ITAP provides customised training in three different areas – corporate services, multimedia and music and video production. Each trainee is evaluated, and courses are recommended based on ability and aptitude. Such personalised services are not available elsewhere.
President of Society for the Physically Disabled, Ms Chia Yong Yong said, “IAC recognises the importance of IT training and aims to bridge the digital divide by making a wide variety of training available to all people with disabilities. We’re committed to continually improving and fine-tuning the ecosystem for vocational training and employment for people with disabilities and hope to be able to encourage them to embrace these opportunities and lead self-determined lives with the help of technology.”

Lee Pei Ling, an employee of Concept Education and Design, who received her ITAP Graduation Certificate today, said “Before ITAP, many others said that I should learn something clerical or administrative. But the trainers at ITAP encouraged me to do the Multimedia track, and I really enjoyed it. I found I liked it, and I was good at it. ITAP is useful because you don’t just learn how to use the programmes. They created the working environment, so I could practice the skills I learnt in a real working environment.”

In conjunction with the ITAP Graduation Ceremony today, Microsoft Singapore, a major supporter of IAC, also presented the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship Awards at the event. The scholarships are part of an ongoing initiative with Microsoft, which includes S$1 million of funds raised for SPD over the last three years. Three recipients received scholarships to attain diplomas in IT in a local polytechnic. The costs for course fees and the purchase of textbooks for their IT diploma courses will be covered by the Scholarship.

Said Ms Jessica Tan, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore, “At Microsoft, we believe in the magic of software and its ability to enable people to fulfil their dreams and potential. I was extremely heartened to have had the opportunity to review the scholarship applicants. Their determination to succeed in their areas of interests is an inspiration. I am confident they will serve as good role models in encouraging other students with disabilities to strive for success. SPD has been an excellent partner with a common goal and vision. The IAC’s success and the graduands today are testimony to that. We believe the work we are doing together is contributing to advance the economic and social well-being of people with disabilities in Singapore.”

Jeremiah Oon, one of the recipients of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship, said “I am very thankful and honoured to receive this scholarship. I want to work in the IT field as a web application developer, so I am really glad for this chance to further my studies. I want to make a difference for people who are in a similar situation as me.”

Besides Microsoft Singapore, the IAC is funded by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, the National Council of Social Service and the Tote Board. Launched with $12.7 million from its donors in July last year, the centre set itself the goal of filling 4,000 training places by 2010. Just last month, IAC launched its new ‘SOW – It’s Time to Grow’ campaign aimed at encouraging enrolment in its training courses and increasing awareness of all the facilities and services it provides to people with disabilities.

“So far, we’ve had about 1,500 enrolments for the various courses at IAC. However, we think the message still needs to reach a broader audience – we believe there are more people with disabilities who can benefit from our services. The centre is a one-stop holistic service provider, we have the ability to take someone through from basic IT training to being work-ready,” said Ms Chia.

Together with the ITAP Graduation Ceremony and Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship Awards, these elements are part of a collective strategy to boost the centre’s effort to provide a holistic range of services for people with disabilities in Singapore.