SPD Executive Director Replies To Letter On Employment Of People With Disabilities

Person in wheelchair working at a computer

Person in wheelchair working at a computer

In response to a parent’s letter in The Straits Times on the difficulties that his son faced when job hunting, Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director of SPD, highlighted the importance of job accommodation for an inclusive workforce that is sustainable in the long term. He also called for more assistance and support for both people with disabilities as well as employers so that it is easier to integrate people with disabilities into the workforce. The letter was published in The Straits Times on 9 May.

MR JOHN Ooi (“Tough for the disabled to be accepted in the workplace”; last Thursday) highlighted a problem faced by many people with disabilities in the workplace or when seeking employment.

Denying job opportunities to a disabled person solely because of his condition stems from a lack of understanding about, and preconceived notions on, his potential and capabilities.

Correcting such misperceptions is vital in creating greater acceptance of the disabled in the community and changing employers’ mindset.

Besides this, job accommodation will provide the foundation for an inclusive workforce that is robust and sustainable in the long term.

Jobs are typically designed for able-bodied individuals; the tasks assigned always tap the employees’ cognitive ability, sight, hearing and speech.

To provide equal job opportunities to people with physical or sensory impairments, employers should re-design jobs such that tasks that cannot be performed by the disabled are assigned to others who can carry them out, leaving people with disabilities to handle tasks they are able to.

By doing so, employers are leveraging the strengths of the employees while addressing their limitations.

Support is needed at many stages to help people with disabilities find gainful employment – starting from assessment, physical and psycho-social preparedness and, finally, job placement.

Just as individuals with disabilities need help to find jobs, businesses also need help in carving out jobs to accommodate them.

Currently, the required expertise and resources to support both employers and people with disabilities are lacking, and we hope that with more assistance from the various ministries, people with disabilities will find it easier to become part of the workforce.

For people with disabilities, the process of finding and securing a job can be a long-drawn one. We hope job seekers like Mr Ooi’s son will not be discouraged.

Besides courses and training that are tailored to meet the needs of job seekers in the disabled community, various specialised assistive technology options are available to help them carry out their job functions more effectively.

People with disabilities can seek assistance from the following agencies that provide job support and placement services: Autism Resource Centre, Bizlink Centre, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore and the Society for the Physically Disabled.