DPA has written in regularly to various newspapers commenting on accessibility issues for persons with disabilities.
Please refer to our dedicated blog page for the letters in full.
Dr. Marissa, DPA’s Executive Director, spoke to Today Online about how public discourse on disability can be changed so that it becomes more inclusive. She was quoted in the article on 9 April: “People with disabilities rarely have the opportunity to create the terminology or the language that’s used to speak about them … It’s about giving people a say, which hasn’t been the case until quite recently.”
(Article: “Changing how Singaporeans talk about disability, one word at a time.”)
On 5 March, Dr. Marissa, DPA’s Executive Director, was quoted in a Straits Times article: “Not having grown up together in school, many are encountering persons with disabilities for the first time in the workplace.”
(Article: “Call to integrate people with disabilities early.”)
On 1 December, DPA was quoted in a Straits Times article titled “Special needs gap in ‘every child matters’.” DPA raised the issue of means-testing school fees for students with severe disabilities.
On 6 November, Mr Nicholas Aw, DPA’s President, was quoted in an article titled “What rain? It’s purple reign at Suntec City.” He opined that society should do more to build an inclusive society such as educating the children and hiring and integrating persons with disabilities.
On 10 November, Ms Tang Siew Ngoh, DPA Honorary Secretary, wrote in a Straits Times article titled “Provide options for deaf children’s education.” She suggested that the Ministry of Social and Family Development offer the Total Communication Approach to accommodate the diverse needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing in education.
DPA’s participatory action research on workplace discrimination was featured in a Straits Times article titled “Study on bias at work against those with disabilities.” In the article, DPA explained the research’s objective, methodology and timeline.
On 17 September, DPA’s President, Mr Nicholas Aw, wrote a letter titled “Pool prize money for more parity among athletes” to the Straits Times. In the letter, Mr Aw opined that the Athletes’ Achievement Award and Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme should be consolidated into one so that private donors fund the reward for all elite athletes, including the Paralympians.
On 18 September, DPA was quoted in an article titled “Disabled Singaporeans who don’t let anything stand in the way of getting fit and enjoying sports.” DPA opined that sports should be modified to make them more inclusive.
On 4 July, DPA was quoted in two Straits Times articles titled “Making Life Easier for the disabled: What Singapore can learn from Sweden” and “Swedish museum: Caters to all special needs.” In the first article, DPA opined that the number of accessible hotel rooms is still too low. In the second article, DPA opined that accessibility includes having accessible services, programmes, displays and websites.
In a letter to The Straits Times titled “Selfish behaviour in abusing disabled facilities” on 17 July, DPA’s President, Mr Nicholas Aw, protested against the continued abuse of facilities for persons with disabilities. Mr Aw opined that the prevalent abuse reconfirms the uncaring nature of our society.
DPA’s President, Mr Nicholas Aw, wrote in a letter titled “Children can set the example for parents on inclusion” to the Straits Times on 3 June. He argued that children can educate their parents on mixing with people with disabilities.
On 3 June, Mr Aw was quoted in the Straits Times article titled “People with disabilities in the spotlight.” He opined that mindsets are hard to change, thus we need to start educating the young about disability.
On 9 June, DPA wrote a letter titled “Everyone can get involved in disability inclusion” to the Straits Times. In the letter, DPA opined that disability inclusion requires every individual at all levels of society to do their part. Our society cannot solely rely on public education campaigns to change mindsets.
DPA’s advocacy work was mentioned in a Straits Times article titled “The Hard and Heart Part of Inclusiveness for the Disabled” which was published on 9 June.
On 16 June, DPA was quoted in The New Paper article titled “Me Before You Draws Flak over Suicidal Disabled Character”. DPA opined that the movie could be detrimental to disability advocates’ efforts to create a more positive view of the experience of having a disability.
On 3 May, DPA’s President, Mr Nicholas Aw, wrote a letter titled “Disability awareness must start in schools” to Today Online. Mr Aw shares his experience of growing up and living with Tourette syndrome, and called on the public authorities to make disability awareness education compulsory in schools.
Mr Aw was interviewed by Bharati Jadish, a journalist and news presenter, on Channel news Asia. A transcript of his interview was published in a Channel News Asia article titled “Focus less on grades, more on accepting differences: President of Disabled People’s Association”.
DPA’s Flag Day software was featured in a Straits Times article titled “Software makes light work of flag day’s hard work”. The article was published on 23 April, and it shares information about how the software streamlines the Flag Day process and reduce manual paperwork.
On 24 March, DPA was quoted in an article titled “New barriers on walkways blocking more than errant cyclists; could affect those with disabilities.” DPA opined that the new barriers will pose an obstacle to mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs.
On 5 January 2016, a Straits Times article titled “Cab leaves no room for wheelchair user” quoted DPA’s President, Mr Nicholas Aw. He commented about the prevalence of incidents of motorists abusing disabled-parking spaces, and called for legislation to provide for stricter enforcement.
In a letter to the Straits Times, “Complement fines with education” on 20 January 2016, DPA argued for the importance of public education to explain why access to disabled parking spaces is strictly restricted to people with disabilities.
On 28 January 2016, a TV series called “Three Men, One Journey” by Threesixzero productions featured DPA as one of the beneficiaries. DPA members were also featured in one segment; they played sports alongside the three local celebrities.
On 31 December 2015, a Straits Times article titled “Ron Chandran-Dudley, champion of people with disabilities, dies at 81” quoted Ms Judy Wee, DPA’s Vice President. She commented about Mr Chandran-Dudley’s contribution to the disability community.
On 1 November 2015, DPA’s Executive Director, Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills, was quoted in the New Paper article entitled “Drivers trained for new service.” In this article, Dr Marissa commented that UberAssist gives people with disabilities better and more varied transport options.
Mr Nicholas Aw, DPA’s President, was quoted in Today Online article titled “Disabled athletes get their day in the sun, and others hope to follow” on 28 November 2015. He welcomed the initiative and hopes that Government support will continue beyond the games so that there is permanent and robust funding for disability sports as well as other inclusive initiatives in the arts and recreational activities.
DPA’s Executive Director, Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills, was quoted in nine different articles – namely, the Straits Times, Uber Newsroom, Channel 8 News, Techinasia, Yahoo News, Business Times, Channel Newsasia, Singapore Business Review and PR Week – from 28 to 30 October 2015 on Uber’s new taxi service for people with disabilities called UberASSIST. In these articles, Dr Marissa voiced DPA’s full support for UberASSIST.
In a letter to the Straits Times, “Disability toilets more about lowering barriers” on 3 September 2015, DPA argued that the card access system adopted by Jurong Point shopping centre should be complemented with public education to help change behaviour over time.
DPA wrote in to the Straits Times on 27 September 2015, “Tighter rules ‘may ease problem only in the short term,’” DPA’s President Mr Nicholas Aw opined that tightening the criteria for Class 2 label holders will not have much of an impact if the other Class 2 users continue to hog the space.
In a Straits Times article, “Tap-in to use toilet for the disabled” on 28 August 2015, Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills, DPA’s Executive Director, opined that locking the public out of disabled toilets misses the point. People should be educated on disabled toilets to encourage them to decide against using them.
In a Straits Times article, “Playground in Sembawang caters to children with special needs” on 12 April, Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills, DPA’s Executive Director, was quoted saying that schools close to the playground and organisations which help people with disabilities might consider organising an outing to the playground. She also said that “publicising the accessible transport routes to this playground through maps or guides will also encourage people to go and use the playground.”
DPA’s President, Mr Nicholas Aw, was featured in an article called “Hiring and Working with PWDs” in a HRM magazine.
In the article, Mr Aw shares that there are successful professionals with disabilities, but they are the exception rather than the norm, and legislation is needed to ensure that all companies make the effort to have inclusive hiring practices.
He also suggests that potential employers of PWDs can offer more internships, apprenticeships or training schemes to PWDs to help them adjust to and, if offered a permanent role, flourish in the workplace.
Mr Aw also argues that hiring a PWD is a great thing for a company to do because a diverse workplace contributes to the level of innovation and new ideas in the workforce.
Click here to read the full article.
In a letter to The Straits Times, “Introduce laws to protect rights of disabled people” on 16 January, DPA called for the Government to enforce stricter measures to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities, while expressing disapproval of those who discriminate against persons with disabilities.
In response to Dr Richard Kwok and Mrs Padmini Kesavapany’s articles titled “Kids with dyslexia can thrive in specialist school” and “Problem with integrating kids with special needs into mainstream” respectively, DPA argued that children with special needs and/or learning difficulties should be mainstreamed in the article “Help kids with special needs fit into mainstream” on 17 January. DPA also provided suggestions on how an inclusive education system can be supported.
DPA replied to a Straits Times article on 26 January 2015, explaining how a modified curriculum can work for all children with or without special needs.
In a letter to The Straits Times on 9 October, titled “MOE can take on larger role in special education”, DPA argued that children with special needs should not be automatically exempted from the Compulsory Education Act and highlighted the implications arising from the exemption.
In response to MOE’s article “Special education can’t be one size fits all”, DPA addressed MOE’s concerns of integrated SPED into the national system and also reaffirmed the stance that children with special needs should be integrated into the national education system.
In response to Dr Ho Ting Fei’s article mentioning how the Changi Airport staff failed to provide a wheelchair readily, DPA wrote a letter, “Helping disabled travellers is a basic responsibility”, to The Straits Times on 22 September. DPA urged Changi Airport to expand its disability services for persons with disabilities.
DPA’s letter concerning the use of words to describe persons in the disability community, “Positive words paint unrealistic picture of disabled community”, is published in The Straits Times on 1 April.
DPA agreed with Dr William Wan on the need to be sensitive when describing persons with disabilities, such as refraining from using negative words. DPA noted, however, that constantly using positive words to describe persons with disabilities would undermine equality and fair treatment for them.
Regarding the private housing developers’ opinion of wider corridors being a “waste of space” in condominiums, DPA wrote to The Straits Times on 27 March “Wider corridors not waste of space”, in support of Melissa Tan’s reply in her article “Do wider corridors make sense for private projects?”
DPA reminded the public that the interests of minority groups, however small, must be considered. It also commended the Building and Construction Authority’s updated accessibility code, which promotes the inclusion of minority groups.
DPA wrote in to The Straits Times on 12 February “What disabled students need” in response to SMU’s initiative to officially support its students with disabilities.
It called upon Singapore’s institutes of higher learning to establish a structured support system, clear and established procedures, and readily available facilities and services for students with disabilities to tap on when needed.
The Straits Times published DPA’s letter “Transport for the disabled: Do more to plug gaps” on 20 January. It praised the government’s announcement of transport concessions for persons with disabilities and urged for all disability groups to be entitled to the subsidies.
DPA also raised the issue of transport subsidies for those who need to travel by wheelchair-friendly taxis, and asked for more to be done for this group.
TODAY published a one-page commentary piece titled “Why Singapore needs disability legislation” on 3 December, on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The commentary called for a rethink and review of our current legislative framework and put forth the rationale for enacting laws to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
In a letter to the Strait Times forum “Help deaf, blind access broadcast, online media” published on 15 November, DPA called upon media providers to make better and more extensive use of technology to cater for the blind and deaf communities. (Starhub and MediaCorp responded to state the measures and services they had undertaken in this aspect.)
The Straits Times’ Supper Club section, which does in-depth interviews with newsmakers and prominent personalities, featured DPA president Nicholas Aw on 16 November, both in its print edition and its online Singapolitics site (which carried the full interview).
A short video clip was also uploaded on the Straits Times’ RazorTV site. Mr Aw gave his views on a wide range of disability-related topics – from the transport concessions for persons with disabilities, to the need for a disability rights law, to how society can be more inclusive.
DPA contributed a forum letter to the Straits Times “Misconceptions about disabled employees” which was published on 27 November. It highlighted the need to counter the misconceptions about the capability of persons with disability in the workplace.
It also asked the government to lead by example and brought up the issue of why public sector jobs require candidates to reveal their disabilities at the initial application stage. (PMO responded to reaffirm the civil service’s stance and stated that the government does employ persons with disabilities.)
DPA president Nicholas Aw wrote in to the Straits Times Forum on 26 October – “Make another Tuesday giving day”. He pointed out the Giving Tuesday SG movement by National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) would clash with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), as both fall on 3 December this year.
Hence he requested NVPC to change the date of its event. NVPC replied to explain that the date was set by the United Nations Foundation and that it looked forward to working with DPA on publicising IDPD.
DPA wrote in to TODAY via its Voices section and our letter “Allowing guide dogs with the blind is a right, not a privilege” was published on 13 September. DPA argues that the blind should have the right to access public places with their guide dogs and that to prevent them from doing so is to violate their rights.
DPA vice-president Judy Wee and advocacy executive Alvan Yap took part in a ‘live’ current-affairs programme on Channel NewsAsia’s “Talking Point” show on 18 September. The challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Singapore, personal experiences of being discriminated, and ideas and suggestions for building a more inclusive society were among the topics discussed during the one-hour talk show.
DPA commented on the issue of certain bus stops not being wheelchair accessible, despite the availability of wheelchair-accessible buses along the routes. DPA states that it understands ensuring all bus stops are accessible would take time.
DPA President, Mr Nicholas Aw, wrote in to TODAY, calling for more responsible reporting on persons with disabilities in the media. He stressed the importance of using proper terminology by citing the example of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore which had renamed itself due to the unfavourable image of its former name. The letter was published on 1 July.
DPA contributed a commentary piece to Today which was published on 25 July. Titled “Resetting mindsets about disability”, it reflects on the pending implementation of the CRPD in Singapore, and calls for a mindset change in perceiving disability. It also explains how a social model, rather than the medical or charity models, would make a difference in society’s perception of disability.
In a letter to the Straits Times forum published on 27 July, DPA highlighted the gaps in the electoral process for people with multiple disabilities, and also the need for a disability rights and anti-discrimination law to be enacted in accordance with the CRPD. So far, there has been no official reply from the authorities to the issues raised in the letter.
In a letter to the Straits Times forum published on 7 May, DPA called for VWOs and non-profit organisations to take the lead in enhancing the job prospects of persons with disabilities, by giving priority to their clients and members when suitable job openings are available in their organisations.
In an article on how more companies are hiring people with special needs, published by The New Paper on 1 April, DPA highlighted the need to look a person’s suitability to a job role, rather than the disability alone. In addition, DPA said that hiring persons with disabilities is not just about giving back to society, but rather about helping people with disabilities integrate better into society.
DPA’s Vice-President, Ms Judy Wee, was pictured testing out an accessible building feature in the article ‘Buildings to be more accessible, inclusive with revised code’, published on 2 April in the Today newspaper.
DPA was asked for a comment by the Straits Times on the recent car loan curbs and the proposed exemption for persons with disabilities. In the article published on 13 March, DPA member, Mr Lim Puay Tiak, and DPA President, Mr Nicholas Aw, commented on the scheme, voicing their generally positive views of it.
In a letter to the Straits Times published on 2 February, DPA urged the public to be aware of the needs of people with disabilities and to keep pedestrian paths and facilities for those with disabilities clear of obstructions.
In the letter, DPA also encouraged the public to take photos of both accessible and inaccessible public facilities, entrances and building features, and upload them to the ‘Share What’s Friendly!’ page of the Our Friendly Built Environment Portal website, which is run by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
Responding to an incident in which Mr Kua Cheng Hock, who is visually impaired, was not allowed to board a Tiger airways flight with his guide dog, DPA wrote to the Straits Times.
In a letter published on 20 February, DPA questioned Tiger’s policy of not allowing guide dogs on its international flights when other Singapore-based airlines, such as Singapore Airlines, allow guide dogs on all their flights. DPA asked for clarification from Tiger Airways about the reasoning behind its policy against guide dogs. No clarification was forthcoming.
In an article by Today on 26 January, DPA Vice-President, Ms Judy Wee, made suggestions for improvements to walkways between MRT stations and bus stops and nearby residential blocks, as well as asking for more wheelchair-accessible feeder buses.