The recent resumption of activities following Singapore’s exit from the circuit breaker, and the upcoming general election, have surfaced some access issues faced by persons with disabilities. Our Chief Executive Officer Mr Abhimanyau Pal shares his views in this letter published in The Straits Times Forum on 8 July 2020, on how more can be done to allow persons with disabilities to participate fully in the community.
The reopening of Singapore’s economy after the circuit breaker and the upcoming general election have highlighted some systemic barriers that could potentially restrict persons with disabilities from actively participating in key events.
Safe management measures have been implemented rigorously to safeguard Singaporeans. However, the needs of persons with disabilities may not always be considered during the planning and implementation of these measures.
In the last few weeks that SPD has resumed services, our clients have had difficulty accessing the nearby Tiong Bahru Market to buy groceries and meals. To ensure that there is a single entry point, the safest barrier-free access route to the market for them is opened by the authorities only between noon and 7pm daily.
This affects people with mobility challenges in the area. Such restrictions can deny persons with disabilities daily activities that others can participate in at any time. As there are safety concerns for routes to other accessible entrances, perhaps the authorities could consider keeping this entrance open instead.
Like every eligible Singapore citizen, voting is compulsory for persons with disabilities. Citizens with disabilities should be able to participate in election rallies and access information about the election. Recent telecasts of the political debates and Nomination Day speeches were devoid of captioning, denying access to some with hearing loss or who are deaf. Perhaps media owners can put up repeat broadcasts with captioning when it is not possible to do so during a live telecast.
Other access issues that remain a challenge for people with disabilities include news telecasts without captioning and plastic coverings installed over some lift buttons to prevent the spread of diseases, which deny access to the braille markings on the buttons.
We hope policy and decision makers will conscientiously adopt universal design, and engage persons with disabilities and organisations that support them to ensure no systemic barriers that deny persons with disabilities the rights and access to full participation in the community.
Chief Executive Officer