Advocacy & IT Initiatives 2005

Posted: 31 December 2005

Advocacy

Open Employment Workshop

Paving the way for new horizons in the concept of open employment, a workshop organised by DPA on 20 April 2005 saw the support of a turnout close to fifty participants. Held at the NCSS, the workshop was attended by various Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), government bodies and private companies comprising executive directors, job placement officers, social workers and HR personnel. The presenters by invitation from DPA were Dr Greg Lewis, Executive Director and Ms Sue Robertson, Managing Director from Edge Employment Solutions (Edge) – www.edge.org.au, an employment agency serving people with disabilities. 

Refreshing insights into the dynamics and success of a quality open employment service were covered during the workshop. It touched on issues such as development of open employment services for people with disabilities around the world, the essence of a quality open employment service for people with disabilities and the key factors in establishing a successful open employment service for people with disabilities.

Assistance in the Launch of Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS)’s Special Care Lounge for Travellers

SATS approached DPA for advice and assistance in building and branding their new airport lounge facility for travellers. Mr Ron-Chandran Dudley, then President and Mr Alan Ho, Vice-president represented DPA to visit the lounge site and provide suggestions on improving the facilities of the lounge by making it more accessible and user-friendly for people. They also proposed to have the both of them conduct training for ground staff on serving and assisting in the needs of disabled people. The course was successfully conducted in August 2005. The course consisted of two-hour training sessions which ran over four days, on the following issues: using the right terms when addressing disabled passengers, the correct way of handling disabled passengers and customers’ expectations.

Youth for Causes 2005 Social Entrepreneurship Programme

In July 2005, DPA was invited to be part of the Citibank-YMCA Youth For Causes (YFC) community-initiative programme by a group of students from Victoria Junior College. The Programme provided a seed funding of $1,600 to each participating group and allowed the opportunity for entrepreneuring youths to put their creative ideas to raise funds for their receiving VWO. Preparations for a charity haul culminated in an event at Coffee Club on August 20 where the group raised awareness among the public and raised funds by selling different flavours of lollipops in various colourful packaging, highlighting the theme of their team name, “Rainbow” and the tagline of their event, “Colour Our Lives Together”. For DPA, a total of close to $13,000 in funds was raised and we would like to acknowledge the Citigroup Foundation for sponsoring the seed funding, YMCA of Singapore and Citibank for organising the YFC programme and the group of youths from Team Rainbow who chose us as the beneficiary of their project.

Appeal to Ministries for Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Levy and Tax Concession for People with Disabilities (PWDs)

In September, DPA had taken the initiative to request the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) for a waiver of the Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Levy for people with disabilities (PWD)s and increase in tax concession for employed PWDs respectively. We organised a meeting inviting various like-minded VWOs to discuss and endorse an appeal letter to the officials. Both appeal letters were sent out to the respective ministries in early September and were rejected. We have followed up with further letters of appeal in response to the Ministries’ references to other assistance schemes put in place for the underprivileged
including people with disabilities, and currently are looking into addressing a second appeal letter to them.

Disability Awareness Public Education 2005

DPA participated in the Disability Awareness Teen Exchange (DATE) as part of the Disability Awareness Public Education (DAPE) nationwide campaign on 27 to 28 October 2005. DPA together with Ms. Christine Sim, a volunteer, conducted an interactive talk and game involving the use of DPA’s Dictionary of Disability Terminology. Students were divided into groups and were given newspapers to cut out letters to form words they were given from the Dictionary.

Subsequent events were held in the month of November, such as the “Friends of the Disabled” Journey, providing opportune moments for interaction with the public, and the “Supportive Employers” Appreciation Lunch, in efforts to promote the employability of disabled people.

To raise awareness of disabled people’s abilities and achievements among the public, the finale of events was a Disability Awareness Weekend Carnival held on 3 December (International Day of Disabled People), comprising performances by disabled artistes, games and activities such as lawn bowling and wheelchair basketball for the public to participate in and better understand disability issues.

Public Education Talks

DPA was invited by the Disability Information and Referral Centre (DIRC) under the DIRC School Outreach Program to conduct public education talks at various schools in January 2006. DPA was represented by our Honorary Treasurer, Mr. Prathimohan s/o Chandramohan. We visited MacPherson Secondary School and Ghim Moh Primary School in January. Topics such as Understanding Disabilities, A Helping Hand, and Interacting with the Disabled were covered. DIRC hopes to work with DPA closely on more public education projects in the future. DPA was also invited by NCSS to give a talk on Volunteerism and Volunteering at NCSS in January 2006, as part of its monthly talk on Social Service Volunteering.

Press Articles on DPA

Articles concerning DPA which appeared in the press were helpful in creating awareness. They included an article in TODAY newspaper covering our open employment workshop in April 2005, featuring views from Mr Ron Chandran-Dudley, our then President. Mr. Dudley was also interviewed by I-S (stands for In Singapore), a lifestyle magazine, on discriminations in employment faced by people with disabilities in June 2005. We also had an appeal letter written by the Straits Times Forum page by one of our board members, Ms. Chang Siew Ngoh in January 2006, with regard to installing a visual and audio system announcing destinations in public buses to help visually-handicapped and elderly passengers. Another article, on PC Refurbishing, was published in the Sunday Times in March 2006 after DPA was approached for an interview of its initiatives in this area, and increased the development opportunities for DPA in PC Refurbishing.

Consultation Advice for Accessibility of Singapore Zoological Gardens

Singapore Zoological Gardens approached DPA for advice on the accessibility of its premises in March 2006. It accepted DPA’s feedback about accessible information – ground markings and signage’s – and implemented it on their premises and their website – including DPA’s contact for further travel queries. The Zoo has requested DPA to do a last walk-through in end July. DPA would like to acknowledge the Singapore Zoological Gardens’ efforts in making their site accessible for people with disabilities.

World Vision Visit to DPA

Taking a leading role in disability inclusive development practices, World Vision International (WVI) is seeking to mainstream disability across all its emergency and development programs. WVI received DPA’s Honorary Secretary and founder President, Mr Ron Chandran-Dudley, as a guest speaker in its workshop on Disability and Emergency for its delegates to Singapore. The workshop held in Singapore last March 27-31st, explored how WVI emergency programs can better support the participation of all people in everyday community life. It provided knowledge and programming skills on disability mainstreaming in four-tsunami affected countries (India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand) as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan. As a part of the workshop, WVI visited DPA in order to learn more about its work to empower disabled people and adopt it in their work.

Empowering People With Disabilities Through Information Technology

PC Refurbishing

DPA’s PC refurbishing work has steadily improved and expanded. It has gained popularity among individual used PC donors and private companies as well. DPA has gained recognition from Microsoft, which appointed DPA (w.e.f. April 2006) as the only ‘Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher’ (MAR) in Singapore. As of 1st April 2006, about 40 refurbished PCs have been distributed to eligible recipients. We would like to thank Microsoft Singapore for conferring on us the MAR status. Recipients of the refurbished PCs include visually handicapped people and people with other types of disabilities and VWOs and the numbers are as follows:

Type of Disability No. of PCs
Visually Handicapped 10
Others 6
AWWA for Their Clients 3
Total 19
WEB Accessibility Initiatives

DPA constantly works to promote and educate public agencies the importance of Web Accessibility and its benefits to people with disabilities. DPA had contacted IRAS, CPFB, MOH, MOE and HSA to highlight the importance of web accessibility and to consider making their websites accessible. Web Accessibility vision for Singapore was the theme of Vision Singapore 2005-2006, a seminar organised by Design Accessibility for All and supported by DPA. The seminar, held on 9 June 2005, aimed to turn the spotlight on the issue of Universal Web Accessibility concerning people with disabilities and the elderly and raise its awareness among a wider audience. There were fifty participants mostly from government bodies and educational institutions.

Development of New Assistive Devices

DPA works closely with tertiary institutions in the development of new and innovative assistive devices to improve and promote independent living of people with disabilities. From September 2005 to October 2005, a battery-operated bottle or jar opener and another hand/finger operated nail clipper was developed by a group of NTU students with DPA’s support and assistance. This prototype of a battery-operated bottle or jar opener will help people with single hand and others with weak hands and will pave the road for further research and development of this device.

Development of an Assistive Device for Visually Handicapped Persons

DPA is the piloting agency for the development of an assistive device to help people with disabilities. This project is funded by the Enterprise Challenge (Prime Minister’s Office) and developed by GaiShan Technology Pte Ltd. (agreement signed on 8 November 2005).

This is an “enabling” scanning device that, when applied or configured to specific requirements, allows an “information-on-demand” situation to the individual user. Being an “enabling” device, it is envisaged that it can have a wide variety of applications where only appropriate or relevant information is played back for the user on an on-demand basis. Specifically when applied to visually handicapped persons, it helps them to be more independent by identifying and differentiating items or objects around them without help from a sighted person. It also helps visually handicapped persons to learn, to receive instructions and procedures or, in their education, on their own and at their own pace, instead of having to wait for help from a sighted person. A prototype of the assistive device has been developed and preparations are being made for trial tests. The project is expected to be completed in October-December 2006.

Work Attachment Programme for Ministry of Education (MOE) Scholars

Four scholars were sent from the Ministry of Education for a work attachment programme at DPA from November to December 2005. The students were exposed to DPA’s work and were trained in PC refurbishing. The students were also educated on web accessibility and its benefits to society in general.