Advocacy and IT Initiatives 2006

Posted: 31 December 2006

Advocacy

DPA has been championing people with disabilities (PWDs) in the press in the past half year. From September to March, we had a total of ten letters published in the press, that advocated various pertinent issues such as the barrier-free access on the Web, the accessibility of transport, rights of athletes with disabilities, the issue of Tiger Airways and accessible airline facilities and the Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Levy issue.

Waiver of Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Levy

DPA has been relentlessly championing this cause in the past two years, initiating appeal letters to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for people with disabilities (PWDs) to be given a waiver of the FDW Levy rate. We had also sent a letter dated 10 March 2007 to the press publicising this issue. The appeal has since borne fruit with the announcement of the revision of the FDW levy concession from $200 to $170 (with effect from 1 November 2007) and this concession extended to PWDs or family members with disability. We believe that it has played a significant role in the eventual decision by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in highlighting the situation of a person with a disability who has no other alternative but to have a caregiver, and if freed from paying the levy, could be given the opportunity to earn an income and contribute to society. And alternatively, if a severely disabled person can have a caregiver, he/she can be more independent to undertake employment. We will continue to press for a waiver of the FDW levy, which was what we had initially set out to achieve.

1st Roundtable Discussion

The Discussion was successfully held on 30 March (Friday) at Toa Payoh West Community Club with a turnout of 9 VWOs. The participants were from: Asian Women’s Welfare Association, Autism Resource Centre, Bizlink, Christian Outreach to The Handicapped, Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), Gospel Mission to The Blind, Handicaps Welfare Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore) and Singapore Association for the Deaf.

The facilitators, Mr Leo Chen Ian, President of DPA, Ms Judy Anne Wee, Vice-President of DPA and Dr Balbir Singh, Board Member of DPA, engaged those present in an interactive exchange of ideas, first on the presentation of a Comparative Study between the Enabling Masterplan and Biwako Millennium Framework and then on a Summary of the relevant topics drawn from the Study.

Training/Consultancy

Recently, the Zoo also embarked on a staff training session by DPA on usage of appropriate disability terminology and on how to approach people with disabilities, such as wheelchair users and visually handicapped people.

In the coming months, DPA will be conducting similar public education talks to the staff of Night Safari and The British High Commission.

Publicity Awareness Campaign

DPA was approached by an advertising company, Ace Dayton. They offered pro-bono advertisement designs on advocacy for DPA. Ace Dayton designed 5 posters which depicted the daily problems faced by people with disabilities. These advertisements were then printed in The New Paper (26th-27th April 2007) and the Business Times (26th-27th April 2007).

All ad spaces were paid generously by Ace Dayton. The advertisements have also been short listed for the Singapore Press Holding’s INK Awards and a Poster Award in New York. All results will be announced in July. These advertisements have given DPA more exposure and more support. DPA would like to thank Ace Dayton for all their support and foresight.

International Meetings (Disabled Peoples’ International/Asia Pacific Region)

DPA sent 2 representatives, Mr. Leo Chen Ian and Ms. Judy Anne Wee to the 2nd Session BMF Stakeholders Coordination Meeting (1-2 March 2007, Bangkok).

Attending such events would give DPA an opportunity to share at the International level, the work being done in Singapore for people with disabilities. This would be an opportunity to bring back new ideas and solutions and share such information on how the quality of life for people with disabilities can be improved.

IT Initiatives

Online Business Skills Workshop with eBay

DPA, together with eBay, organised a whole-day workshop for our members at the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) Ability Center’s computer lab on 27 October 2006. There was a total of nine participants with different disabilities, including an SPD member. Participants were each paired up with buddy volunteers from eBay, who were experienced eBay users. The workshop also entailed follow-up with the trainees on their progress even after the training.

It was an interactive and productive session as members, provided with handouts and starter packs, were trained in setting up an eBay account, surfing eBay’s website, and familiarisation with the rules and regulations of selling and buying items on eBay. The feedback from participants was positive. DPA hopes to have more advance training sessions in the future.

PC Refurbishment Programme

Distribution Update: Number of PCs Refurbished & Distributed

Type of Disability No. of PCs
Deaf/Hard of Hearing 5
Physically Handicapped 5
Visually Handicapped 22
Others 130
Total 162

In our PC (Personal Computer) Refurbishment programme, we refurbished and distributed approximately over 100 PCs to people with disabilities and needy families the past year. The people with disabilities whom we train to refurbish the PCs are empowered with employability skills and the people with disabilities to whom we distribute the PCs stand benefit as well with the empowered access to information technology.

DPA collects used PCs in working condition (Pentium III and above) from companies such as Disney Singapore and individuals. The PCs are given a new lease of life with re-formatting, newly-installed basic software, and are distributed to firstly our disabled members, then members of other NPOs and Institutions/Organisation e.g. South West CDC.

Microsoft has supported DPA’s PC refurbishment work by authorising DPA as the Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher (MAR) status. This allows DPA to install and distribute Windows 2000 at minimal cost.

Currently, we have a member of DPA and a volunteer who are employed in PC Refurbishment at DPA. This programme empowers PWDs with employability skills and opportunities for independent living.

DPA showcased the PC Refurbishment program at The HDB Disability Awareness Carnival on 23 to 25 Aug 2006 as part of its services and drew the crowd to its ‘live’ demonstration.

In the recent Project GAPc @ South West programme, DPA, South West Community Development Council’s joint partner, has since provided 100 Microsoft licences for their family camp on 16-17 December 2006 and another held on 24-25 March 2007. The outreach programme was a success.

Universal Web Accessibility

The past year, DPA has been lobbying for Accessible Websites.

DPA is also working together with Design aFa to audit the Ministry of Transport’s Website portal @citizens.

DPA is looking forward to auditing more websites in the coming year.