Enabling Village – A Community Space To Enable Persons With Disabilities Lead A Dignified Life
Persons with disabilities can now enjoy an inclusive environment in Singapore, thanks to a community space called Enabling Village. Enabling Village strives to work towards making Persons with Disability trained for a job and be more engaged in society.
Located in Redhill, the $25 million facility is an initiative of Singapore’s Ministry of Social and Family Development and SG Enable – an agency dedicated to enabling persons with disabilities and building an inclusive society. Two-thirds of the cost of the facility was funded by the Government, while one-third was contributed by public and private sectors.
The Enabling Village is an inclusive community space that brings a range of facilities and services for persons with disabilities under one roof. Their goal is to make the Enabling Village a place where people with different abilities can move independently; where they can feel accepted for who they are, and be valued for their contributions.
The facility has been designed with wider walkways and also have disabled-friendly ramps that can accommodate wheelchair users. For better access to the facility, they also have direct sheltered linkways.
Enabling Village is made with a universal design in mind. Universal design is basically the design of products and environments so that they can be accessed and understood by users regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.
As Enabling Village is made on a former school ground, the spaces are used in a way that can accommodate wheelchair users with ease. There are elevators available in multistory blocks. All stairs have been replaced by gentle ramps that can be used both by wheelchair users and automated scooters.
Another interesting innovation is called audio induction loops, a hearing loop system. It is a system that wires up rooms and buildings with cables that generate signals and can be tuned into hearing aids. This helps hearing-impaired people listen to musical performances flawlessly. Signage in bathrooms, doors, railings, elevators and everywhere is in braille.
One of SG Enable’s roles is to support persons with disabilities and their caregivers through information and advisory services, grants and help schemes, assistance in use of assistive technology, and other forms of support. It also helps persons with disabilities to enhance their skills and employment prospects.
Over the last 5 years, SG Enable have successfully placed over 2,000 persons with disabilities in jobs and enrolled more than 2,200 persons with disabilities in training courses. SG Enable works closely with employers in various sectors such as food & beverage, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, healthcare and infocomm technology.
Singapore Telecommunications Limited, Singapore’s largest mobile network operators in Singapore with 4.1 million subscribers, to promote a more inclusive environment partnered with SG Enable’s RISE Mentorship programme. In the three years that they participated, they mentored 10 students. The 12-weeks training session included mock job interviews, networking sessions and honing resume writing skills. Since 2014, they have recruited over six students with disabilities for internships and hired two graduates with disabilities for full-time positions.
Deutsche Bank in Singapore has also gained access to a valuable pool of talent that they can tap on through the SG Enable’s Internship programme where they provide internship opportunities for students with disabilities who are studying in Institutes of Higher Learning. Since 2014, they have hired two out of the 11 former interns as full-time staff.
There are many initiatives by SG Enable to help companies adapt to inclusive hiring. For example, SG Enable administers the government-funded Open Door Programme which aims to encourage employers to hire, train and integrate persons with disabilities. This includes grants to support re-designing of jobs such as purchases of equipment or workplace modification, and skills-upgrading of persons with disabilities.
CEO of SG Enable Ku Geok Boon had told Singapore media at the launch of the Enabling Village in 2015, said: “We administer the Open Door Programme and as one component of the programme, employers and HR personnel of companies that are looking towards hiring persons with disabilities are offered a chance to come to the Enabling Village to have what we call disability management workshops.”
“We bring them through authentic worksites and training centres within the village to deepen their understanding of disability, so they can truly become inclusive employers.”
The Logical Indian appreciates Singapore for making such a facility possible and giving hope to many people, who otherwise would have had to face discrimination throughout their lives. Other countries should take note of this and try to implement the same in their country.