By Jorain Ng
Applying for the Open Door Programme (ODP) is easy. I have successfully applied for the scheme and managed to get a lighter laptop for work thanks to the 90% subsidy .
Unfortunately, not many companies are tapping onto this scheme because 1) they are not aware of the scheme; 2) they do not know how to go about applying for the ODP; or 3) they think it’s too troublesome.
By penning down my experience, I hope to encourage companies who have hired or are interested in hiring persons with disabilities to familarise themselves with the ODP and apply for the scheme.
Step 1: Speak to your employee
Persons with disabilities may require some form of adaptation or accommodation to assist them to overcome obstacles in their work environment, such as wheelchair access in a narrow office space. Hence you should speak to your employee about the accommodation(s) they might require to perform their job efficiently.
Do bear in mind that people with the same disability may have different needs and thus require different types of accommodation. So it is always good to ask, and never assume that what is appropriate for one will be appropriate for another.
If your employee is not sure about the type of workplace accommodation he/she requires, seek advice from SG Enable or their job placement/support officer and/or social worker (if they have one). SG Enable may perform a site visit to evaluate their job and work environment so that they can make the best recommendation.
Step 2: Contact SG Enable for information on application process
Contact SG Enable and provide them the following details:
- employee’s disability;
- employee’s job duties;
- type of accommodation required.
An employment specialist will then advise you and provide the relevant information on how you can tap the funding and support under the ODP. SG Enable may also request to perform a site visit and require you to fill out more paperwork.
I only requested for a subsidy to purchase a lighter laptop so the application process was really straightforward. All my supervisor needed to do was submit a formal email request that included a description of my disability, purchase rationale and justification, and the cost of the equipment.
Step 3: Wait for SG Enable’s approval
Depending on the nature of your request, the reply from SG Enable may take a few days. So be patient.
In my case, SG Enable replied with an attached application form in their email. They requested that my employer submit the application form along with the original copy of the receipt so that they can reimburse DPA accordingly. The disbursement period took around 6 months.
Based on my personal experience, those three steps are all it takes to apply for the ODP.
The process may be longer and more complicated for other funding programs such as the apprenticeship program and capability development funding. But do remember that SG Enable is always willing and able to provide companies funding support to make their workplace more inclusive for persons with disabilities.
Have you applied for the ODP? Was it successful? Did you find the process easy or cumbersome? Let us know in the comments below!