Social Impact of Policies for the Disabled in Singapore

5 December, 2017

“Tissue Peddler” from SRN’s SG Photobank

How is disability viewed and addressed in Singapore?
December 3 is recognized as the International Day for People with Disabilities (IDPwD). This event seeks to raise public awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people with disabilities and to celebrate their achievements and societal contributions. A/P Reuben Wong (NUS Dept of Political Science) and Dr Wong Meng Ee (National Institute of Education) in their chapter ‘Social Impact of Policies for the Disabled in Singapore’, in the book – 50 Years of Social Issues in Singapore Europe and Asia – describe the factors which led to a change in the government and society’s perceptions of disability. Studying the period between 1965 and 2015, they found a shift from regarding the disabled as a national liability, to viewing them as individuals deserving of equal dignity and respect.
The authors argue that the international socio-cultural, political and structural factors were not as influential in enacting the change in perceptions. Instead they emphasize two domestic factors which led to the change in mind-set: an ageing population and an increase in civil society activism. These were significant in the Singapore government’s decision to sign the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in December 2012. They further note that by making notable policy changes in three vital areas, education, employment and accessibility, Singapore is forging a more inclusive and compassionate society for persons with disabilities and special needs.
Read the full chapter here.