Author: DPA Singapore

Project Smile by Temasek Secondary School

We’re always thrilled to welcome student groups interested in volunteering and collaborating with us at DPA. So when 9 students from Temasek Secondary School recently approached us to run Project Smile, we were more than delighted to say yes!

Project Smile is a project with the simple aim of bringing smiles to the faces of persons with disabilities, while promoting inclusion and giving back to society.

The objective of the Project Smile Team was to develop a deeper understanding of the needs and concerns of persons with disabilities, with the hope of eventually promoting inclusion and gaining an increased confidence to effectively interact with persons with disabilities. Hence, their first step was to schedule a site recce and consultation at the DPA office to better understand and explore how we can collaborate together to make this happen.

Prior to the actual event, the team members of Project Smile attended a Disability Awareness Talk Series (DATS) conducted by our Training Consultant, Ms Asha, to learn how to disable the disability and embrace inclusion.

Armed with knowledge, the Project Smile team met with some of our Inclusion Ambassadors to take their project a step towards reality.

On the afternoon of 2 August 2017, 3 of our Inclusion Ambassadors – Joseph, Margaret and Sakina – who are wheelchair users, participated in Project Smile. After a quick round of ice-breakers and self-introduction, the Project Smile team led our Inclusion Ambassadors in a session of origami and a game of bingo. Vibrant laughter and chatter filled the room as time flew by! A short song performance by the team quickly evolved into a sing-along session together with our Inclusion Ambassadors. As the session came to a close, the friendship built between the team and our Inclusion Ambassadors was undeniable. The team left with their hearts full and were tremendously inspired, while our Inclusion Ambassadors wore smiles on their faces the whole time – a clear evidence of the joy and warmth flowing from within them.

The Project Smile Team also raised a total of $360.50 in donations which was then presented to DPA. Raising the amount solely by selling bubble tea to their schoolmates, it was heartening to hear them share the funny stories and challenges they faced in the process of their fundraising activity.

DPA would like to extend a big thank you to the Project Smile Team – Nurfareha, YuXuan, Jonathan, Jia Xuan, Elena, Zeta, Mus’ab, Damien and Sandro – together with their teacher, Mrs Verma, and parent helper, Mdm Noorjan for being such a blessing to the community!

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Design For Humanity, Makerthon 2017

On 26 July 2017, DPA conducted a disability awareness talk and some experiential activities for participants of Design for Humanity – Makerthon 2017. Our Inclusion Ambassadors Margaret, Rosie and Timothy shared the barriers they faced in their daily lives and motivated the participants to come up with assistive devices that will increase their functional independence.

Design for Humanity is a collaboration between Engineering Good Student Chapter (EGSC), the Innovation and Design Centric Programme Student Club (iDCP SC), as well as the Institute of Engineers Singapore NUS Student Chapter (IES-NUS). DPA works with them to raise awareness and help participants to better understand the needs of persons with disabilities.

The theme of the Makerthon 2017 was ‘breaking barriers in the workplace – making workplaces more Inclusive for persons with disabilities through design’ and it aimed to expose more students to humanitarian engineering, empowering them to apply their technical skills for social good.  The Makerthon 2017 was a three day event (26 – 28 July 2017). Participants were given the opportunity to identify a specific area to work on. They generated new ideas, learned relevant technical skills and came up with various exciting prototypes.

The finals were held at National University of Singapore on 28 July 2017. Six teams participated in this Makerthon. Their ideas were presented before a panel of judges to receive feedback. The judges were Dr Dawn-Joy Leong (Board member, Disabled People’s Association), Associate Professor Loh Ai Poh (Director of the Innovation & Design-Centric Programme), Associate Professor Tay Seng Chuan and Associate Professor Mehul Motani.

The winning team combined affordable technology with an innovative social model and developed a button that persons with disabilities would be able to use to call for assistance. The prototype was a simple button that lit up when they needed help. Those who are willing to help can approach the person with disability to offer assistance. The winning team consisted of five students from National University of Singapore (NUS), three students from the Faculty of Engineering and two students from the Faculty of Science.

Assistive devices enable persons with disabilities to function effectively, overcoming the limitations that they may face in their life. DPA encourages students to generate innovative ideas for affordable, accessible and effective technology that can help make workplaces more inclusive for persons with disabilities.

DPA congratulates all the participants and organisers of this Makerthon and welcomes brilliant brains to take up these type of future challenges to create prototypes that can be turned to real solutions promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Metanoia by Ngee Ann Polytechnic

The following blog post was written by a group of students about their experience working on ‘Metanoia’, a day event held at Ngee Ann Polytechnic where they traveled across the campus on wheelchairs to truly understand the challenges faced by persons with disabilities.


On 24 July 2017 (Monday), a group of five Ngee Ann Polytechnic students comprising of Roy Tan, Pay Pei Qi, Lee Si Ying, Sindy Teo and Lee Yu Hsien collaborated with the Disabled People’s Association (DPA) in organising a wheelchair simulation event, ‘Metanoia’ at Makan Place. Disability awareness and volunteer training was conducted by DPA on 20 July that helped the volunteers to gain confidence to interact and include people with disabilities. During the event, students sat on wheelchairs to navigate themselves around the school with the accompaniment of Inclusion Ambassadors; Ms Sakina and Ms Margaret. This was indeed a memorable experience for the students as they were able to better understand the perspectives of people with disabilities and change their attitudes towards them.

Acts like making way for persons with disabilities in lifts can make a difference to them. Some other obstacles faced are the steep slopes in Ngee Ann Polytechnic which was supposed to be of help to them but it became an obstacle. Other than having the wheelchair simulation, inclusion booths were also set up to raise awareness and promote inclusion for people with disabilities and DPA.

Metanoia had another activity; “Human Library”. Inclusion Ambassadors from DPA shared their personal stories with the participants. Participants were able to empathise with persons with disabilities and learnt that disability can also be a form of ability. During the session, Ms Noraini and Ms Sakina introduced themselves and were open to questions asked by the participants. This was a valuable experience for the participants and they felt that this segment was beneficial for them.

Wheelchair experiential activity, disability specific inclusion booths and human library session helped the participants to understand the abilities and needs of persons with disabilities. The event ended with a blast with participants gaining lots of insights of persons with disabilities and learnt that they too play a crucial role in making the society more inclusive.

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So, how did Metanoia start out?

Mr Roy Tan came to know about DPA when he volunteered for the DPA & VSA Joint Flag Day 2017 on 25th March 2017. And when his team and him was asked to create an campaign for Persons With Disabilities a few months later, Roy thought of DPA.

The event was named Metanoia as it was a Greek word for making a change in one’s life. With common objectives to embrace differences between the typical and atypical, both DPA and Metanoia has agreed on the collaboration to take up the project.

As part of DPA’s advocacy initiatives, the association had conducted an interesting interaction session for Team Metanoia on 6th May 2017. Inclusion Ambassadors, Margaret and Joseph, shared their experiences and guided the students to do the experiential activities. Students led by Mr Roy Tan, remarked that it was a fulfilling learning experience that raised awareness about disability and inclusion of people with disabilities.

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Contribution : The Malta Camp

Every now and then, DPA features a member’s article focusing on a variety of topics. Today we bring to you a piece by Ms Noraini.

In mid June, one of DPA’s members, Noraini attended The Malta Camp held in Singapore. The following piece is quite an interesting read, as she shares with us her account of the camp, and the various activities that she enjoyed.


I attended The Malta Camp Inaugural Asia Pacific Summer Camp Singapore 2017 held at the Singapore Sports School from 8th to 11th June 2017. I was selected and given the opportunity to go for this camp. I was quite surprised to have been selected, as the camp was mainly for youth. I also managed to get selected for the invitation-only Gala Dinner that kicked off the event. There were participants from several Asia-Pacific countries, and they travelled to Singapore all the way from   Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines. It was an experience meeting all these individuals who had gathered in Singapore for the inaugural event- especially for people with disabilities. We were all coming together as one – to celebrate joy, happiness and inclusiveness!

Time really flew at the camp. The Opening Ceremony of the Malta Camp Singapore on 8th June was held at the Singapore School of Sports. It was officially kicked off by Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth, Ms Grace Fu.

I was delighted to see a few familiar faces at the event. There was Karen Zainal whom I got to know through a Human Library event, and Dr Michael Thio, a board member from Wise Enterprise, where I work part time. He attended the event with his wife. Not forgetting Dr Donald Poon, a doctor at Raffles Hospital.

Despite being an event focusing on Disability, and Inclusivity, there were some challenges when navigating my way during the event. For example, the accessible toilets were not very easy to get to. However, with some ingenuity, I managed to get around the obstacles.

The facilities at the Sports School were manageable for wheelchair users. We had volunteers from Nursing backgrounds who patiently assisted us with our requirements, even though they needed to rush off for work.

I was very heartened when they would take the time to assist me in getting ready every morning for breakfast, as well as before the planned outings.

The volunteers also encouraged me to go out to IFLY with the rest of team. IFLY is located at Sentosa where you could experience the thrill of skydiving, but indoors! I accompanied the team over to IFLY, however, I decided not to take part in the skydiving activity.

Over the next few days, we played games like bowling, and crafting sessions where we made lamps together. The outings organised by the team, such as the one to Botanical Gardens, was incredibly fun!  Other fun activities were the disco that was held for three nights, having meals together with other participants from the camp, and getting to interact with each other more.

However, the best part of all this was making new friends with people with disabilities from around the region.

Cultural Exchange Night was where a volunteer gave me a box of chocolates from Switzerland. Over the next four days, everyone felt like ONE BIG FAMILY!  I had a wonderful time at the camp! I also learned to be more independent for those days away from the home.

Two of the participants I truly admired were from Thailand. One is a wheelchair user, and the other is visually impaired. Both flew over to Singapore without any assistance. Adding to that, they were also the champions for this year’s polo game!

The last day had a fun carnival organised.  We played games, ate lots of candy floss, and even the traditional Singaporean treat of having an ice-cream sandwich! The carnival also had balloon art where we had balloons twisted into interesting shapes, following this, we had a Minnie Mouse Magic Show.

This camp was an unforgettable experience indeed, with lots of sweet memories with newfound friends. I did not feel like saying goodbye. It was also an inclusive experience, where we helped and encouraged each other.

My special thanks to all the participants, volunteers and organisers of this Order of Malta Inaugural Asia Summer Camp.

Next year, the camp will be held in the Philippines, and I hope more Singaporeans will join in then!


Noraini Bte Adnan is a member of DPA and is an active advocate on disability issues. She enjoys carrying out research on health, disability advocacy, and other youth issues. Noraini also loves going to events such as The Malta Camp, as she enjoys interacting with people from different countries, and with different abilities. She believes that society should not look down on people with disabilities.

We Are Recruiting Inclusion Ambassadors!

Are you interested to advocate for inclusion for people with disabilities? If so, apply to be an Inclusion Ambassador and contribute to making society more inclusive.

What is an Inclusion Ambassador?
Inclusion Ambassadors are our members with disabilities who are trained by DPA to effectively engage with public to raise awareness and promote inclusion of people with disabilities at various outreach events. Our Inclusion Ambassadors uphold the mission of DPA and promote self-advocacy.

What does an Inclusion Ambassador do?
Inclusion Ambassadors engage participants from different walks of life. These ambassadors interact with participants and share their powerful insights / personal experiences in an interesting and constructive way. Through the experiential activities and interaction, Inclusion Ambassadors help the participants to gain confidence in interacting with persons with disabilities and to be more proactive in promoting inclusion.

What are the benefits of being an Inclusion Ambassador?
This is a paid opportunity where you can raise awareness whilst getting compensated for efforts. DPA trains and mentors our Inclusion Ambassadors. You will get exposure to different engagement methods including discussions, meetings, forums and interviews. Inclusion Ambassadors also learn to work as a team.

How do I apply to be an Inclusion Ambassador?
You need to be a DPA member to apply for Inclusion Ambassadors programme. Selected candidates will undergo training to develop necessary skills to be an Inclusion Ambassador.

We encourage individuals with disabilities to become Inclusion Ambassadors. You can visit this link to apply for DPA membership.

For more information, please email training@dpa.org.sg or call 6791 1134.

DPA’s Volunteer Training Session

At the Disabled People’s Association (DPA), we recognise the importance of training our volunteers to prepare them for their role with us! Understanding that with a diversity of volunteers and the variety of roles and activities they undertake, our training always seeks to provide them with a broad range of skills to not only be competent, but also confident in their supporting roles.

On 15 July 2017, DPA conducted a Volunteer Training Session for our volunteers in order to equip them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitude to work effectively with persons with disabilities, caregivers, volunteers, and the public. The training was a great learning experience for all volunteers who attended!

Informational and interactive sessions offered participating volunteers a unique opportunity to personally interact with, and learn from our Inclusion Ambassadors. Inclusion Ambassadors Aisha Ibrahim, Kagda Sakina and Rosie Wong shared valuable insights and answered the varying questions presented to them by the volunteers. Experiential activities helped the volunteers to understand the needs and concerns of persons with disabilities better.

A special crafting session was also incorporated into our Volunteer Training this time. Laughter and colours filled our premises as volunteers, together with our Inclusion Ambassadors, worked hand in hand to create marble mugs, canvas paintings, braille bookmarks and customised notebooks. Through art, the spirit of inclusion lit up the atmosphere and warmed our hearts.

DPA appreciates all our volunteers and recognises their time and contributions! Our volunteers are advocates of inclusion and representatives of DPA at programs and events. Their volunteer experience directly impacts the way in which they represent or personify DPA and its mission – To be the voice of persons with disabilities, working with them to achieve full participation and equal status in society through independent living. Together with our volunteers, we celebrate inclusion and appreciate their contributions in our journey together.

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Interested in joining DPA as a volunteer? Sign up here.

ARC’s WeCAN Early Intervention Programme

Here’s another rather interesting programme brought to you by the Autism Resource Centre (ARC). Valerie took the opportunity to visit ARC’s recent Open House to find out more about the WeCAN Early Intervention Programme (WeCAN EIP). Continue reading to find out more!


Autism Resource Centre (ARC) held an Open House for their WeCAN Early Intervention Programme (EIP) on 17 July, Monday which aimed to provide the public with a more comprehensive knowledge of the programmes they were offering. The programme was developed to meet the needs of young children with autism and their families, and this objective seemed like a pressing need due to the high turnout of concerned parents eager to find out more about early intervention programs available for their children diagnosed with autism.

Internationally accredited by the Early Intervention Programme since 2008 (by the National Autistic Society, United Kingdom), WeCAN EIP was developed to provide early intervention for young children, aged 18 months to 6 years, diagnosed with autism. The programme’s developers strongly believe in equipping caregivers well in order to enable them to assist their children with autism achieve their full potential by being an active participant in their child’s intervention team. Therefore, parent participation is a critical component in ARC’s program where parents are highly involved in the individual educational planning of each child. This includes personal class observations and reflections, hands-on practice sessions in class, outings and parent communication nights.

The Early Intervention Programme is built on the following guiding principles:

  • Individualised – Skills that are functional and useful to each,
  • Meaningful to Child – What they look forward to when they come to school,
  • Spontaneous Use of Skills – For children to attain lesser support from adult in future,
  • Generalisation – Ability to use same skill in different settings,
  • Maintenance – To maintain current skill learnt and progressively build other skills upon it moving forward.

A walk around the school campus and taking a look at the various classrooms used for the different levels within the programme revealed various focus areas, ranging from work habits to self-regulation, functional communication to social skills, life skills to curriculum skills, with a gradual development of social relationship skills. This is to ensure effective early intervention where, after the diagnosis of the child, children are able to learn how to be with other people, learn how to learn, acquire crucial skills for pre-school, and eventually are prepared for Primary School.

Closing off the Open House with a Q&A session, it was clear from the issues raised that the most pressing concern facing parents of children with autism was the waiting list to enter Early Intervention Programs (EIPs) and Special Education (SPED) Schools. This is a matter of supply and demand where the number of students wanting to enroll, far outnumber the available teachers. Keeping in mind that in such programmes and schools, the teacher-student ratio per class tends to be much smaller than that of a mainstream school.

And this is where DPA’s work in raising awareness amongst Singaporeans comes into play. It is for reasons such as these, where students lose out on meaningful engagement and specialized curriculum, that we encourage more individuals who are looking to become teachers, develop their skills as a special needs educator.

Dyslexia Awareness Talks by DAS

This week, our Engagements Executive, Ms Valerie attended the Dyslexia Awareness Talk organised by the National Library Board, and Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS). This is her account of the session. Enjoy reading!

If you would like to find out more about dyslexia, feel free to reach out to us via email at info@dpa.org.sg .


National Library Board organised a Dyslexia Awareness Talk in conjunction with Dyslexia Association of Singapore on Friday 14 July 2017. It was a wonderful platform to raise awareness and help people gain a deeper understanding of dyslexia and the struggles that come along with having this condition.

At the session, Mr Marcus and Mr Steven of DAS shared that dyslexia is a language-based specific learning difficulty. People with dyslexia have difficulty in reading, spelling and/or writing. They may also have memory difficulties (for example, sequencing of the alphabet), and directional issues (for example, not being able to tell left from right). Dyslexia is a life-long condition that usually runs in the family. This difficulty is not due to a lack of intelligence, poor education or family background. It is an invisible learning difficulty, a hidden disability. Therefore, without better awareness and more accurate understanding of challenges persons with dyslexia face, they can easily be mistaken to be “lazy”, “stupid” or “unmotivated”.

There is no cure for dyslexia, but the  associated learning and reading challenges it presents can be overcome by skilled specialist teaching and the use of compensatory strategies. Coping with this learning difference can be a long journey, but with the right support, encouragement and understanding from those around them, persons with dyslexia can achieve just as much or more than anyone else in society.

Having dyslexia may cause difficulties in some simple everyday tasks, but it does not prevent anyone from achieving their goals. The key is not to be discouraged by the struggles, but to work on the strengths and pursue them to the fullest! Some famous people with dyslexia include the late Former Prime Minister of Singapore – Lee Kuan Yew, Movie Director – Steven Spielberg, Hollywood Actress – Keira Knightley, Hollywood Actor – Tom Cruise.

After attending this talk, we recognised even more the need to continually raise and increase awareness that disability, whether invisible or not, is only one characteristic of a person, People with disabilities do not need pity or sympathy. Instead, they benefit from greater understanding, accommodation and support in order to realise their potential and have the same opportunities as everyone else in society.  Equal opportunities and recognition of rights to education and employment are necessary to realise an inclusive Singapore.

Internship@DPA, Bukit Panjang Government High

During the first week of June, DPA held its first ever work attachment programme for secondary school students. 4 students from Bukit Panjang Government High School joined DPA for 5 days and obtained various kinds of new experiences. They came up with a Student Policy Proposal Guideline, Accessible Route Map to DPA’s office from the nearest Boon Lay MRT station and helped in the pilot phase of the Advocacy Training Programme held by DPA.

Here are their thoughts, in their own words.

On the first day, we stepped into the office with feelings of uncertainty. We did not know what to expect and what was expected of us. Ms Asha, the training consultant of DPA, was the person in-charge of the programme. To start off the whole programme, we had an interesting welcome session where we did a few activities to introduce ourselves and to get to know more about DPA. We also went through the Disability Awareness Talk Series (DATS) in order to build our foundation of knowledge of people with disabilities (PWDs) and what the organisation does.

Afterwards, we were given a few projects and every one of us had to lead one project. Ms Asha emphasised on the importance of effective communication and teamwork. Initially, we never really understood why these factors were important for project management, but as the days go by, we grew to understand how these factors would greatly affect the results/quality of the final product. When the communication amongst the team is poor, it affects everyone’s attitude and productivity, ultimately resulting in the possibility of being unable to meet the project’s’ deadlines or producing low-quality work.

Ms Asha also emphasised on the importance of aligning whatever we do to the mission of DPA; Vox Nostra – being the voice of persons with disabilities, working with them to achieve full participation and equal status in the society through independent living. By being attached to DPA, whatever we do, in a sense, is what DPA is doing and as representatives of DPA, we should not be doing things that are not focused or related to the mission of DPA. We have learnt that while doing projects of any sorts, we should always set the tone, the main message we want to convey and work towards that. This allows us to not deviate from our original goal and eventually being able to produce work that is of good quality.

We also attended an Inclusion Ambassador Training session together with three people with disabilities. This session was the first time we interacted with people with different types of disabilities and it was an enriching and eye-opening experience for us as we listened to them share with us their personal experience. We learnt how to interact with the Visually Impaired (VI), people with physical disabilities and people with autism spectrum disorder.

Something that struck us the most were some remarks from the people with disabilities. While filming a video for one of our projects, the lady with physical disability who was helping us mentioned that sometimes, even when people see her struggle with wheeling up the ramp, they never offer help or even move out of the way. Another instance was when the lady with visual impairment mentioned how she wears sunglasses to “look blind” since some people think that she was pretending to be blind. This so that she can get help more easily. These remarks got us thinking.

Why is the society nowadays so cold-hearted and selfish? Why do people simply turn a blind eye towards others in need of help? Why do people judge whether a person needs help or not by how “in need” they look? Why are people so skeptical towards giving others a helping hand?

It is not difficult to lend a helping hand. There are only two simple steps you need take to assist them effectively. First of all, approach them in a friendly manner and ask them if they need any help. If so, do ask what you need to do to help them. Do not assume the type of help they need.

We hope, that we can do something to change the general public’s attitude towards people with disabilities. We hope, that the society can move towards inclusiveness, towards less judgements and more acceptance. We hope, that one day Singapore, or even the world, can allow full integration of people with disabilities into the society and that everyone can live their lives without feeling ostracized or looked down upon.

The 5 days of attachment programme have been fruitful and enriching and definitely an experience we will all hold close to our hearts. Thank you, DPA, for giving us such a wonderful time!

Here’s a vlog done by the students on what they learnt at DPA.

Thé Sound of Silence

In today’s world where noise and chaos infiltrate our daily senses, a few staff from DPA decided to enjoy the sound of silence at Hush@Community – A social movement to bring the worlds of the hearing and the deaf together in a Silent TeaBar. Doubling up as a meditative space over a silent tea ritual conducted by the lovingly-trained TeaRistas, the movement also aimed to help busy people slow down and embrace silence over a cuppa.

In the 3rd installation of Hush@Community held on the 3rd of June 2017, “Gratitude” was the theme. Participants were led into a room where the ambiance was calm and silent. Each group was introduced to their respective TeaRistas from the Deaf community, who engaged us in a session of signing. We learnt to sign frequently-used greetings to one another, and shared a few good laughs around the table when we were challenged by the complexities of signing. We also learnt that body language and facial expressions are especially important in communicating emotions in the absence of verbal cues.

The TeaRitual began with participants being invited to take in the scents of various types of tea leaves. Before returning to our seats, we each picked out a card that had words written by past participants on it. Through an animated presentation, the TeaRistas gave instructions on what to do once the ritual starts.

Tea was served, and our time of silent reflection on various aspects of our lives began – Recall a person you are grateful for. How has this person affected you? What do you like to say to this person? Recall a challenge. What happened? What are two reasons to be grateful for, now? Think of two reasons to be grateful of yourself. What are they? The zen and the calm along with the tough questions made for a more simulated mind, but can you hush your mind in the silence?

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After a quiet moment of reflection and deep breaths, we were free to express ourselves on a blank piece of paper using the materials provided on the table – Flowers, leaves, sticks and tea ink. Similar to the card that we picked out at the beginning of the session, we also wrote a nugget of our experience on a card for the next person attending the session.

Some experienced their senses being heightened when their hearing was limited, others experienced a blur of events and got lost in what is going on. Some say peace is the friend we find in silence, others say they have never heard silence quite this loudly. Some found it calming, others found it discomforting.

But in this silence, we understood the notion of how the Deaf experience their world.

While many of us appreciated the silence and calm offered in the space with the tea ritual, it also raised the question – If silence was forever, would you be able to handle it?