“Congratulations to SG Enable for its dedication all these years in making significant progress to the lives of persons with disabilities in Singapore!”, shared Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli in a Facebook post celebrating the 10th anniversary of SG Enable.
Looking back at the past ten years, efforts at disability inclusion in Singapore have accelerated tremendously. And since the first Enabling Masterplan in 2007, the PAP has fulfilled many of its pledges towards improving the lives of PWDs and raising awareness on disability issues.
Disability inclusion, so what have we achieved?
Improving accessibility: For a start, enhancing accessibility is the bottom line in disability inclusion because it promotes independent living. We started with a single wheelchair-accessible bus in 2006. But by 2020, wheelchair-friendly public buses have become the norm. Meanwhile, our built environment has also undergone a radical facelift, with ramps, lifts, and barrier-free features increasingly commonplace in all new HDB estates.
Expanding learning opportunities: Lifelong learning is for everyone! To cater to the diverse educational needs of PWDs, seven new government-funded SPED schools will be built by 2030. Next, we have started a Para Sports Academy to enable PWDs to engage in sports in a fun and supportive environment. And besides the Enabling Village, plans are underway to develop additional post-18 options that provide employment training and community programmes.
Providing employment support: Finally, we endeavour to increase the number of PWDs in employment through policies and partnerships. The Enabling Mark, launched in 2020, aims to recognise disability-inclusive employers. In addition, Government grants such as the Enabling Employment Credit and Open Door Programme seek to encourage businesses to hire, train and redesign job processes to accommodate differently abled staff beyond the hospitality and F&B sectors.
A Government committed to social change
Having seen Marvel superhero Jeremy Renner using a mobility scooter and cane following a snow plough accident, it is a stark reminder that anyone, at any point, could become disabled. Therefore, it is fair to say that disability inclusion affects all of us, and supporting it is akin to signing up for a group insurance policy.
Today, we are on our fourth Enabling Masterplan; an ambitious roadmap signifying the PAP’s commitment to building a more caring and inclusive Singapore.
But just as how Rome was not built in a day, making true inclusion a reality will not be easy. It takes time, effort and comes with rewards that might not be apparent to all. Unfortunately, the costs of ignorance and doing nothing are even higher. After all, what kind of society would we be if, through a mixture of apathy and inaction, we deny PWDs the right to live fulfilling and dignified lives?
In his opening address at the SG Enable 10th Anniversary Dinner, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat spoke about the need to challenge our prejudices and move beyond care and support towards PWDs.
“Policies and services can remove visible obstacles. But to achieve a truly inclusive society, we must address the invisible barriers…(and) see past disability, focus on abilities, and make inclusion the norm.”
Enabling Masterplan 2030 seeks to do just that and more. That is because as we move towards refreshing our social compact, our willingness to embrace diversity and build an inclusive society will be the benchmark of our success as a nation. Otherwise, what are we but fragmented tribes on an island devoid of warmth and humanity?
Photo Source: Masagos Zulkifli, Baey Yam Keng via Facebook /SG Enable