Life After Death

As they say, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. However, the bigger issue for many of us would be ensuring that our dependents are well cared for after our passing.

This was the crux of the presentation organised by Clifford Law on 5th of May. DPA’s President, Mr Nicholas Aw, who led the session on Estate Planning saw a turnout of about 250 parents and caretakers who were interested in learning more about caring for, and ensuring adequate financial support for their children with special needs upon their passing.

Nicholas took parents through the variety of options available in Singapore, as well as answered questions about various extenuating circumstances.

Below are some common questions that were raised during the session:

  1. When certifying an individual’s mental capacity, what type of doctor should the parents bring their child to?

A family GP would be best as they are most familiar with the child. However, parents are advised to use their discretion when selecting a doctor to certify their child.

  1. How and when does the Appropriate Adult Scheme (AAS) come into effect?

When a person certified as having a psychosocial and intellectual disability commits a crime, the arresting police officer will contact the AAS in order to have a representative accompany the arrested individual through their interrogation. However, parents should note that the police will only be prompted to contact the AAS if they realise that the person they have arrested has a psychosocial and intellectual disability.

  1. How does a person alert the police that they are under the AAS?

It is generally left up to the arresting officer’s discretion. Additionally, AAS does provide an identifying card to the individual with a psychosocial and intellectual disability. This card can be shown to the officer, or it might be discovered by an inspecting officer when the individual surrenders his personal belongings.

 

You can download a copy of the slides used in the presentation here: ESTATE PLANNING SLIDES 

Please note that all information provided in the slides are personal opinions and should not be held as fact. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. It is the reader’s responsibility to verify their own facts.

If you have any questions on estate planning, or the Appropriate Adult Scheme (AAS), please get in touch with us by emailing info@dpa.org.sg.

 

Champions of Create4Good 2017!

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city, a group of eager young entrepreneurs from Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD), and Singapore Management University (SMU) were preparing for a rather important time of their lives.

The Create4Good Challenge is a five-year social initiative by the late Mr Kwek Leng Joo. Mr Kwek was the Deputy Chairman of City Development Limited (CDL), and was a philanthropist as well as a supporter of youth and social development. The Create4Good initiative was a sweet marriage between his two passions, and encouraged undergraduates from Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD), and Singapore Management University (SMU) to work together to develop novel solutions for social good. 2017 saw Create4Good’s second anniversary and promised to raise the bar from the year before. The themes of this year’s challenge were Productivity, Environmental Sustainability, and Social Assistance.

As I approached Level 6 of the SMU Administration Building, the tension was palpable. The lift doors opened to reveal a throng of young entrepreneurs with intriguing concepts and prototypes. I made my way into the auditorium and prepared for the presentations. This would be one of my maiden experiences as a representative of DPA, and it was truly heartening to see so many young entrepreneurs dedicating their time and efforts in order to make Singapore that little bit more inclusive.

Having been given only 10 minutes for their presentations, each of the teams would be hard pressed to bring forth interesting aspects of their innovation and convince the judges why they deserved to win the grand prize – a whopping $50,000 – that will help to bring their ideas from a prototype to a self-sustaining initiative.

After 2 hours, which went by in a blur of incredible ideas, the room was buzzing as the judges deliberated the results. Then came the announcement of the winners.

Here, we now bring to you Team Mobearlize and EMMA! The reigning champions of the Create4Good 2017 Challenge!

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The Mobearlize team and ‘EMMA’, their prototype.

DPA is especially proud of this moment as Team Mobearlize was had attended DPA’s Disability Awareness Talk Series (DATS) and Interaction Session with our Inclusion Ambassadors on 25 November 2016. DPA provided guidance to the team on how to use the wheelchair. During this process, the Mobearlize team understood potential problems that wheelchair users might face and began fine-tuning the EMMA prototype.

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Team Mobearlize with DPA’s Inclusion Ambassadors in 2016.

Team Mobearlize and ‘EMMA’ – A retrofitted motorized wheelchair unit that is affordable & convenient for urban environments, and can attach onto any common wheelchair.

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Presenting EMMA.

The motorized unit is attached onto the front of the wheelchair to produce a 3-wheel configuration. It is controlled through a scooter-like handling and has device specifications which are comparable to current motorized solutions in terms of range and speed.

EMMA is:

  • Adaptable – Able to attach on common wheelchair designs
  • Affordable – Around half the price of other motorized options
  • Compact – No increase in floor area of the wheelchair
  • Lightweight – Total weight <8kg
  • Modular – Easy to stow for transport or storage

You can find out more information on Emma and the team on their kickstarter page here.

Or you can follow Team Mobearlize on these channels: Facebook & Instagram

Congratulations to Team Mobearlize from all of us here at Disabled People’s Association Singapore! Here’s to your continued work in empowering individuals through mobility solutions!

If you would like to be in touch with Team Mobearlize, you can email them here.

By Sumita Kunashakaran

About the author: Sumita is DPA’s new Advocacy Executive. Her background in International Relations, and interest in marginalised communities in Singapore, brought her to the Disabled People’s Association in order to understand how the organisation can further engage the disabled community in Singapore by making policies more inclusive, and individuals’ lives more empowered. She believes that a lot more can, and needs to, be done in Singapore so that we are able to be a thought-leader in the ASEAN region and beyond.

CO-HACK 2017

In March, Disabled People’s Association (DPA) took part in CO-HACK 2017, the first ever community service themed hackathon organised by Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). A hackathon is a competition where, in a very short time span, participants are challenged to produce prototypes that can address problems posed by the organisers. CO-HACK 2017 focussed on persons with wisabilities, seeking to improve their accessibility to transportation, information, education and also their leisure life. This event brought together a total of 32 like-minded individuals with diverse skill sets and 7 teams were formed. With a time constraint of 48 hours, the teams rapidly worked through intensive prototyping, finally producing interesting, proof-of-concept prototypes that can potentially help make Singapore a more inclusive society.

DPA Consultant, Asha Karen, assisted the process by conducting Disability Awareness Talks* and facilitating discussion and feedback. DPA Executive Director, Dr Marissa Medjeral-Mills, sat on the judging panel.

DPA wanted to share with you some of the ideas and prototypes that the students came up with. With a bit of luck these ideas will go into further development and be available to the community of persons with disabilities and older persons in Singapore.

01

 

Team StepWise:

Having consulted people who use walking sticks, this team realised that descending the stairs is an intimidating challenge due to the need to stretch forward excessively. Stepwise is a walking stick that extends or retracts with the press of a button and was designed with the intention of enabling persons with a mobility disability to descend stairs in a less risky way.

For more info, email shengwei_chia@mymail.sutd.edu.sg

 

 

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Team Vibeats:

Vibeats is a fun game designed for the visually impaired with inspiration from Jubeat. The game relies on their reaction to catch and feel the beats from the vibrating buttons and could be used to train their reaction time. For more info, email may_quek@mymail.sutd.edu.sg

 

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Team iRead:

iRead is an assistive technology wearable which aims to empower amputees & people born with only one arm by providing them the ease to be able to hold and read a book anywhere, especially where there is no surface for them to place the book on. For more info, email muhammad_syahid@mymail.sutd.edu.sg

 

 

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Team Telolet:

Without the aid of bystanders, the simple task of flagging a bus becomes an arduous task for the visually impaired. Telolet is a system designed to be installed at bus stops to empower people with visual impairment to flag their buses independently. This would make bus transport more inclusive.

For more info, email keith_teo@mymail.sutd.edu.sg

 

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Team WTS:

WTS – The Wheelchair Dampening System is a solution borne out of the need to control the speed of a mechanical wheelchair’s descent down a slope. It is a modular attachment that can be fitted to any wheelchair and works by allowing users to set the speed of rotation of the wheelchair wheels via use of either an electrical Dynamo or mechanical gears. It eases the physical burden on wheelchair users such that they need not rely on physical strength to slow the rotation of the wheels. Such innovations would make life easier for wheelchair users and improve their accessibility and safety.

For more info, email benjamin_quek@mymail.sutd.edu.sg

 

*Disability Awareness Talks (DATS): DPA runs this talk series, the aim of which is to spread awareness about disability and teach participants how to be inclusive in their language and behaviour. DATS is also relevant for organisations looking to make their policies and programmes more inclusive. DATS covers a broad range of topics from understanding the different types of disabilities to how to make your existing services more accessible to persons with disabilities. DATS is run by an experienced trainer either at DPA’s office or at the organisation’s office. For more information, please contact us at 67911134.

Flag Day with friends

On Friday 24th March, my friend Trisha and I went to volunteer at the DPA (Disabled People’s Association) to help deliver supplies such as tins, water, tables, chairs for the Flag Day the next day. We first got a quick introduction to everyone at the office and then had a very interesting briefing from Asha about people with disabilities. Asha is a consultant who gives talks on disability awareness in schools, colleges and companies. It was interesting to hear how to “act” around someone with a disability and the different ways you can offer help and guidance. As we were “buddying up” with R (who is visually impaired) the next day, Asha made sure we would know what to do. She played a couple of games with us to simulate what it would be like if we had lost one of our senses. For example, she gave Trisha a blindfold and handed her a box of coins. Her task was to try and guess the Singaporean coins compared to the rest.  She also had us practise how to guide someone who is visually impaired. For example, being on the opposite side from the cane and offering an elbow rather than taking theirs. Or when showing them a seat, lead them to the chair and let them feel it before sitting down. She told us how, in the past, one volunteer had grabbed the cane and pushed the visually impaired person into the chair!

After the briefing, we had lunch and then helped to pack up the last remaining boxes before taking them downstairs to be loaded onto the van. There were three stops, HWA (Handicaps Welfare Association), Bedok and New Town Primary School. When we got to HWA I was immediately surprised by what greeted us. The building was extremely small as I had expected it to be more modern and larger. However the equipment inside looked nice and new. We picked up tables and chairs to take to the locations where the flag sellers would collect the tins. We also picked up a few boards so that the flag sellers using wheelchairs could put the board on the wheelchair and put a couple of tins on top. At Bedok, we visited the VSA (Very Special Arts) office which is very small and slightly cramped. However their acts of kindness and patience is what matters most. It was interesting to see the various locations and meet new people who are also helping those who don’t get the attention they need because they are “different”.

The next day was Flag Day itself. Trisha and I were “buddying up” with the lovely R who is visually impaired but it doesn’t stop her from being independent. She had travelled on her own from home and she was also using her phone to contact her husband. I found this very interesting because to me, a phone is so simple to use. I noticed that when she wanted to call someone she would use the vibrations coming from her phone screen in order to know what to press and who the person was.

We stationed ourselves at Bishan where we managed to collect quite a bit of money. It was touching to see a few people dropping in $10s, $5s and $2s. Even the small change that they had in their pockets as it all adds up. I loved seeing the younger children asking their parents for their own money to give to R. However there was one moment that came as a shock to me. There was one mother and her two young sons who donated their own money. However I noticed the mother stopping one of the sons and took some of the change away from the tin. It surprised me as it was the choice of the son using his own money for an extremely good cause. However, I noticed one of the Giant (supermarket) employees pull out his wallet and count how much money he had. From what I could see I think he was debating whether to put money or not. Nonetheless he still gave money that will be put to good use. A small act of kindness that will go a long way.

I hope to volunteer for the next Flag Day and hopefully get other learners from my school to do the same. It was a great opportunity for experience as in the future I want to speak on behalf of those who experience discrimination. People with disabilities suffer from discrimination and their voice needs to be heard.

Catherine E (aged 16 years) 

About the Writer: Catherine has recently been diagnosed as having a Specific Language Impairment with severe expressive language disorder and an overall mild language disorder: Language disorders can make it difficult for people to understand what others are saying to them and to formulate appropriate responses. In the educational setting, students with such disorders may miss important points in lectures, misunderstand what the teacher is saying and misinterpret assignments and test questions. Also affected is their ability to retrieve ideas and vocabulary and express their thoughts in a clear manner.

My Fear is to be Average

(A Review of In Search of Purpose Talk #14: “The Advantage of Being Disadvantaged”.)

Ad-man Adrian Tan has reached the top of his game in spite of – he might say because of – his ADHD, Dyslexia, OCD and a “tinge of Asperger’s”. So what makes him tick?

On 30 March 2017, I attended a talk by husband and wife team, Adrian Tan and Tan Shook Wah. Adrian is the founder of Ad Planet, Singapore’s largest independent advertising group, which has collected 400 creative awards, including honours at the prestigious Clio Awards and Cannes Lions. Much of its success is credited to Adrian’s ability to “think out of the box” and to defy conventions. Shook Wah is the founder of the Dare to Dream Scholarship, which focuses on helping special needs students with limited financial resources. It is anchored on the belief that education should be inclusive, and that all persons should have the opportunity to learn and realise their potential.

The evening was hosted by Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District. In January 2015, Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC) launched the In Search of Purpose Talk Series (ISOP), a TED-style inspirational talk series that seeks to help adults and youth discover their bigger role in society. Speakers, either local or overseas, are invited to share their personal stories and experiences about various topics in order to encourage the audience members to give back and be part of a more caring community in Singapore.

In her introduction, Ms Phua quoted Rick Warren (author of “The Purpose Driven Life”), who once wrote that we can live life at one of three different levels:  Survival, Success or Significance. Living a life of Significance means living “beyond oneself”.

Pastor Warren has written, “Significance in life doesn’t come from status, because you can always find somebody who’s got more than you. It doesn’t come from sex. It doesn’t come from salary. It comes from serving.”

Adrian Tan then took the stage and it was interesting to note that, although an attractive figure, he did not employ a particularly dynamic delivery style. It was the content of what he said that made the impact.

He pointed out that Singapore has no resources yet has produced many multi millionaires. He described Singapore as “the Monte Carlo of the East”.  As in many 1st world countries there is a large gap between rich and poor and the Income Divide needs to be narrowed.  He reiterated the question at the heart of ISOP talks: “What do we do with what we have?”

My impression was that the couple’s Christian faith informed both their professional and personal lives. “Belief Creates Possibilities”, the tagline of their award-winning ad company, is based on the bible text “Nothing is Impossible with God”.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception” (Aldous Huxley)

Adrian pointed out that the advertising business is all about perception.  He went on to challenge the accepted view of what is “normal” and what is “not normal”.  He redefined “normal” as “ordinary” but by the end of the evening it was clear that he regarded “normal” as rather dull. It was tempting to agree with him.

He described his various “extraordinary” conditions and, in redefining them, appeared to give them credit for much of his success. He did concede however, that disadvantages are not “immediately advantages” and that he had to learn compensatory skills.

  • People with ADHD have a high level of energy. They are physically restless but also mentally nimble and flexible. Children with ADHD can be unfairly labelled at school as “worthless”, “bad”, “lazy”, “dumb”. Adrian quoted Vikram Khanna, an editor of the Business Times and his headline “The present can change the past”: The past does not define your future. Adrian averred that the converse belief can be a danger in the education system and that we must “always believe in everybody”.
  • People with dyslexia are lateral thinkers. They are visual thinkers. Steven Spielberg, film director, was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 60. He said, “It was the last puzzle part in a tremendous mystery that I’ve kept to myself all these years.” One teacher wrote of a student, “He is too stupid to learn”. That student was Thomas Edison. Interestingly, Ms Phua pointed out that Edison’s mother kept the letter from him and it was discovered years later.

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” (Albert Einstein)

Albert Einstein, the famous mathematician and physicist, had a learning disability and did not speak until he was three years old. He found maths and writing difficult at school but went on to become one of the best known scientists of all time winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.

One of the most important staff members in an advertising company is the Creative Director. When a vacancy arises Adrian stipulates that the person who fills the post does not have a university degree as he wants someone who breaks the rules and does not follow the crowd. In the Q&A session, a member of the audience (a teacher by profession) asked the speakers what advice they would give to teachers, how they would like teachers to treat students with special needs. Adrian reiterated that (negative) labelling is a very big issue as it makes a person lose his/her confidence. “Kiasu-ism” pervades Singapore society – including education. People are scared to lose, so they do things that are safe, an attitude that militates against innovation and creativity.

  • People with OCD chase perfection and do not compromise that goal. They have an obsessive compulsion to conquer the new world, to set new limits and a new order. Adrian does not see OCD as a disorder and would rather the condition be termed Obsessive Compulsive Determination. He sees a world in disruption and believes that you must “disrupt or be disrupted”.

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

(Jack Welch, Chairman & CEO of General Electric, 1981-2001)

Adrian did not talk much about his “tinge of Asperger’s” (a term not clinically recognised after DSM V but which is still used by many people as it is more familiar and distinctive). He alluded to the fact that he finds social gatherings difficult and was determined to be successful in advertising without spending a lot of his free time entertaining clients. In fact, his priority is his family and he was proud that he managed to have dinner with his two sons 90% of the time during their formative years (0-21 years).

Tan Shook Wah then took the stage and described recent Ad Planet campaigns

  • In 2014, as part of Singapore Press Holdings’ “See the Big Picture” campaign, Ad Planet brought Stephen Wiltshire to Singapore. Stephen has savant syndrome and was described by Sook Wah as “a highly talented silent communicator”. He surveyed the civic district from a helicopter for half an hour or so then spent a few days sketching it from memory
  • In 2016, Singapore and Japan celebrated SJ50, 50 years of Singapore/Japan Diplomatic relations. Ad Planet presented
    • “A Stroke of Genius”, featuring Shoho Kanazawa, an acclaimed calligrapher who has Down Syndrome; and
    • “The Sound of Silence”, with classical pianist Azariah Tan, who is profoundly deaf
    • “Perception”, a video by celebrity photographer, N D Chow, features people with various special needs. Caregivers were very moved to see their charges in a different light and being presented in such a confident and positive way. Members of the production team and N D Chow himself had to broaden their skill set when dealing with people with special needs:

“We hope for a world that looks beyond disabilities, a world where disabilities are not perceived as no abilities. A world that is kinder. A world that is free of bias… “Perception” hopes for such a world.”

SJ50 Shoho Kanazawa, “A Stroke of Genius” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktUbBM4azqY

SJ50 Azariah Tan, “The Sound of Silence” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgHfPCP9F34

“Perception”, a video by N D Chow – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQgu_6bFTnI

One audience member pointed out that many special needs people do not have the spectacular talents demonstrated in the course of the presentation. Shook Wah conceded that Adrian was privileged to be born to parents who had the means to support him. In 2013, in conjunction with La Salle College of the Arts, she founded the “Dare to Dream” scholarship for people who need financial help for their educational fees. One recipient, Isabelle Lim, a talented photographer, was in the audience. Isabelle has Nager Syndrome.

It was truly an evening celebrating the Extraordinary. Perhaps the unsung heroes of the evening (though mentioned in passing) are the parents who support their extraordinary children through the years and through all their challenges. On the “Perception” video, Isabelle Lim’s mother, Jacqueline, said and signed this:

“It’s always good to look at the bright side.

We try to stay positive.

Our perception is that we can still do it, despite our challenges.

Yes we can.

Cry but also laugh….”

Jan Evans

DPA Volunteer

Let us walk the talk on inclusiveness

Today Online, 16 February 2017

BY NICHOLAS AW, DPA PRESIDENT 

Campaigns are a great way to remind us of things that must be done, but they can do only so much to reach out (“New campaign focuses on greater acceptance for people with disabilities”; Feb 11).

What happens after a campaign has run its course? Let us look at other attempts to make Singapore more inclusive.

What has the Purple Parade done to achieve awareness and inclusivity? What have people done after going to the parade? Was it only a one-day event for them?

At last year’s National Day Parade, it was wonderful when we signed in unison with Count on Me, Singapore. What have we done since then? Was it only for that moment?

In terms of employment matters, our biggest employers should lead the way. I am hopeful the Budget will lean towards that.

My view is that the changing of mindsets is crucial. Besides starting our children young, it would be good to have contact or friendships with those who are different.

If one has a friend who is different, one may appreciate the challenges he faces and be empathetic towards differences.

Let us not only talk about campaigns, acceptance and whatnot but also walk the talk and do something that would help us appreciate people who are different, and maybe we would see things from their viewpoint.

Acceptance and inclusiveness may then come automatically.

A call for equal recognition and support for all athletes

Note: This is DPA’s original letter to the Straits Times. The published piece was edited to focus only on the parity of cash rewards for medal winners. 

The Disabled People’s Association (DPA) congratulates Ms Theresa Goh and Ms Yip Pin Xiu for winning both a bronze and 2 gold medals in their respective competitions at the Rio Paralympics 2016. DPA would also like to congratulate their fellow Paralympians who represented Singapore at these competitive games.

The Paralympics is undoubtedly the most successful disability sports event and many champions become positive role models for people across the world.  Lego recently launched two mini-figures in the likeness of Ms Goh and Ms Yip to celebrate the duo’s achievements at Rio.

With the recent ‘See the True Me’ campaign advocating for greater inclusion of persons with disabilities, DPA hopes that our society will walk the talk and accord athletes with disabilities with as much support, reward and recognition as their counterparts without disabilities.

After the London Paralympics 2012, DPA wrote a letter on 15 September 2012 “Clear the air on parity for Paralympians”  calling for clarity on the disparity in monetary rewards to Paralympians and Olympians.   We also held the view then (and that still holds true today) that perhaps the key issue was not just about the rewards and that the main focus should be how Singapore can nurture future word class athletes.  We had hoped that the performances of our Paralympians can inspire Singapore to support and produce word class athletes, with or without disabilities, of whom we all can be proud.  The operative word here being, “support”.

To be sure, all athletes with and without disabilities deserve more training support. Mr Joseph Schooling rightly deserves all the praise and reward he received after winning a gold medal at the Olympics in Rio. Yet, Ms Goh and Ms Yip are no less deserving and there should be parity in how they are rewarded.

In response to DPA’s letter, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) replied to DPA and explained the variance in cash rewards is that the prize money comes from different donor-funded schemes and better donor awareness of the Olympics over the Paralympics. The reward for Paralympians is derived from the Athlete’s Achievement Award (AAA), while the reward for Olympians comes from the Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP).  Although the separate set-ups may explain the variance in the reward amounts it does not explain why things have to remain that way. Indeed, four years on, the reward scheme structure has not changed much. If the prize money for Olympians and Paralympians cannot be matched, then going forward the two funding schemes should be consolidated into one so that private donors fund the reward of all elite athletes.

Such a move would show that as a society, we are doing more than just talking about being an inclusive society and that we are taking real steps towards it.

Nicholas Aw

President

Disabled People’s Association

Report responsibly on persons with disabilities

The DPA wrote a letter to the Straits Times to highlight a few aspects of the Jem foodcourt incident that we found troubling. However the letter was not published by the editor. Thus we decided to share our letter on the blog. It was edited on 15 June 2016 to reflect the latest discussion on this issue. 

The Disabled People’s Association (DPA) is saddened by the incident at Jem foodcourt where a woman berated a cleaner, Mr Png Lye Heng, who is deaf (“Caught on video: Woman rants against ‘deaf and mute’ cleaner at Jem foodcourt”; June 4, 2016).

The treatment Mr Png received was discriminatory and is telling of the mindset change needed in our society. The DPA also believes that the manager involved could have been more supportive of his staff with disabilities, rather than just trying to placate Ms Alice Fong.

We are also equally concerned by the terminology used by journalists reporting on the incident.

The terms “deaf and mute” are unacceptable and offensive, and only perpetuate misconceptions that all persons who are deaf are unable to communicate just because they are either unable or do not communicate through speech. Some can speak well and clearly, while others can communicate using sign language, and as such is not “mute”.

Based on the feedback received from the Deaf community, the most commonly accepted terms are “deaf” (total inability to hear) and “hard of hearing” (partial loss of hearing). Moreover, a person is not defined by his or her disability. Thus they should always be referred to as a person first, and by their disability second. We encourage reporters and members of the public to read DPA’s Glossary of Disability Terminology.

The DPA is also concerned by the way in which the reporters interviewed Mr Png for the article (“Deaf and mute foodcourt cleaner berated by woman intends to quit his job this month”; 6 June, 2016). To communicate with the cleaner, the reporters gave him questions written in Chinese on a piece of paper to which he gestured “yes” or “no”. The Deaf community should be given the choice of being interviewed in their chosen method of communication. Some persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may prefer to communicate via email or through a sign language interpreter, while others may prefer written communications.

In certain workplace situations such as customer service where communication is essential, employers could consider giving persons who are deaf or hard of hearing the choice of wearing a badge indicating their disability. This should be a voluntary measure in the workplace. Customers and colleagues could then adapt the way they communicate with the employee. ThaiExpress and Starbucks have adopted this approach and it seems to be working well.

The media plays an important role in influencing public opinion and attitudes; the choice of words can determine perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. Thus we urge reporters to use the appropriate terminology on disability and adjust their mindsets to look at communication in different ways and not just at the norm. We also call on the Government to implement a comprehensive anti-discriminatory law to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in the workplace.

Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills (Dr)
Executive Director
Disabled People’s Association

Everyone can get involved in disability inclusion

Straits Times Forum, 9 June 2016 (print edition)

The Disabled People’s Association (DPA) agrees with the points raised by Ms Peggy Chia Kwee Choo (“Be creative in raising awareness of disabilities“; Tuesday).

People with disabilities are people first, and have different abilities, talents, interests and personalities, just like everyone else.

This pertinent message is highlighted in the latest campaign, See The True Me, which is organised by the National Council of Social Service and the Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative, in partnership with the DPA.

We encourage members of the public to visit this website.

Public education campaigns play a vital role in raising large-scale awareness and in changing mindsets. But they alone cannot be expected to weave diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our society.

Building a culture of acceptance and understanding requires every individual at all levels – from public-sector organisations and businesses to schools – to get involved, and they can do so in many ways.

For example, public-sector organisations and businesses could encourage their staff to attend disability awareness and sensitivity training, to build their confidence in engaging with people with disabilities.

Mainstream schools could invite disability organisations to conduct awareness talks for teachers, parents and students.

And members of the public could participate in disability events such as the Purple Parade, or even start a conversation about disability with friends or families.

With the support of every individual, the DPA is confident that we can build a more inclusive Singapore.

Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills (Dr)
Executive Director
Disabled People’s Association

Children can set the example for parents on inclusion

Today, 3 June 2016 (print edition)

Did we expect parents to let their precious children mix with a child who is different from them, special needs or otherwise? (“S’poreans support inclusive education but do not walk the talk: Study”; May 31)

Are we quick to criticise those who do not walk the talk? After all, keeping up and doing better is ingrained in our society. Would we have time for others?

If we cannot change parents’ mindsets, perhaps we can do better with the children who, in turn, can educate their mothers and fathers that mixing with people who are different is okay.

It is never too late, but to make Singapore a better place, we must start now.

Whitney Houston’s powerful song Greatest Love Of All sums up my thoughts on this matter: Children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way.

Nicholas Aw
President
Disabled People’s Association