Making Singapore a More Accepting Society for People with Disabilities

1 December 2011, Singapore – The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) is furthering its advocacy for equal opportunities for people with disabilities with the launch of an online survey to gather the nation’s perception towards people with disabilities. This initiative forms an integral part of the SPD’s on-going ‘I Accept’ campaign, which aims to encourage members of the public to accept people with disabilities as equal members of the community, workplace and everyday life.

This nationwide survey, which will run from 1 till 28 December 2011, mirrors an earlier survey conducted in 2009. The 2009 polls showed that acceptance of people with disabilities had improved marginally since 2004, but remained low due largely to the lack of knowledge on possible means to assist them.

For instance, results that year found that six out of 10 people thought that people with disabilities had difficulties in dealing with day to day activities and that they were dependent on others, while four out of 10 felt it was difficult to interact with people with disabilities.

Nonetheless, there were strong indications that Singaporeans were attitudinally ready to include people with disabilities into mainstream community.

Besides knowing how Singaporeans’ feel towards people with disabilities, this year’s study will help the SPD make meaningful comparisons to the results from the past, and to see if sentiments have improved over the last two years.

Ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, the SPD has also placed a series of three posters in SMRT stations, to encourage commuters to demonstrate their acceptance of people with disabilities through simple acts such as giving way and extending support to them on public transport, in the workplace and within the community. These prints will be up from 1 to 28 December, courtesy of the generous sponsorship from SMRT Corporation Ltd.

The SPD’s drive to level the playing field for people with disabilities extends to the Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IAC), a centre managed by SPD, which provides IT training across disability types. As the only such centre in Singapore, the IAC has offered more than 4,300 training places since its inception in July 2008, and the training places comprise of IT training sessions, apprenticeship training sessions and assistive technology training session. So far more than 1,200 persons with disabilities had received IT training at the Centre, one of whom was involved in the design of the ‘I Accept’ campaign survey page.

Although the IAC’s industry-recognised certification has helped many find greater opportunities in the open employment market, the overall success of integrating people with disabilities into mainstream society depends largely on the public’s perception towards and willingness to accept them. With this online exercise, the SPD hopes to improve Singaporeans’ acceptance of people with disabilities by understanding the society’s thoughts and views of the latter.

Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of the SPD, says: “While we continue to push for greater independence through our various programmes for people with disabilities, the support from the public is no doubt a fundamental part of the equation. We hope all Singaporeans can join us in this effort and volunteer their time to take part in this survey and help us understand and work towards making Singapore a more accepting society for people with disabilities.”

The IAC was formed through a People-Public-Private initiative between Microsoft, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, National Council of Social Service and the Tote Board.