Singapore Affirms Commitment to Equal Rights for Residents with Disabilities


By Dr. Felicity Crawford

a new modified International Symbol of Access
a new modified International Symbol of Access

On July 19, 2013, Singapore endorsed its commitment to guaranteeing equal rights for its residents with disabilities. This is a welcome move and a significant change in policy direction for the city state, which augers well for all Singaporeans. Already, key institutions, such as the National Council of Social Services, have begun to lay the groundwork (see for example its “We are able ” campaign) for changing the policy direction. Singapore is poised to live up to its values of justice and equality for all Singaporeans.  However, in order for such a change to have significant impact, barriers – financial, social, economic, educational, and attitudinal – must be confronted and addressed in all social institutions, particularly where it matters most, in schools and in places of employment.

Students in the Educational Leadership program at Wheelock College, Singapore are currently grappling with the following question: What will it take to effectively mitigate the social, economic, cognitive, and attitudinal barriers that individuals with disabilities face in schools? On August 7, they will engage in an in-person public (and internet) conversation with key constituents (e.g. parents, educators and individuals with disabilities). Specifically, they will be discussing what it will take to secure the right of individuals with disabilities to high quality curriculum. Theirs is a timely conversation particularly given that some of the barriers they will discuss also appear as problematic in the media. See, for example, a recent article published in The Straits Times ( Singapore’s national newspaper). Below is one sample of a student’s thoughts about disability (reprinted with her permission):

Before being introduced to the concept of ableism, or “discrimination and exclusion of disabled children by their nondisabled peers” (Ellman, 2012, p.15), I had never considered that my views about people with disabilities might impact them in a negative manner… As I reflect about my work experience in the special school, I am ashamed that I had an ableist mindset as I believed that such children under my care were only capable of completing certain tasks. This affected the way I viewed their potential and I did not move past teaching them self-help skills. Having gained this knowledge about the negative impacts of ableism, I have begun to shift in the way I view this group of individuals. If given another opportunity to teach children with disabilities again, I will do my best to attend to their strengths and not judge them solely by their disability.

(Excerpt submitted on July 23, 2013 by Norashikin Binte Mohamad Shah).

In less than 24 hours the Class of 2015 at Wheelock College, Singapore will engage several stakeholders (i.e. individuals with disabilities, parents, educators, social service providers, and other interested Singaporeans) in a conversation which will be guided by the following question: What will it take to effectively mitigate the social, emotional and or cognitive barriers that children with disabilities face as learners in schools? Please join us by responding to the question by leaving a comment or raising a thought-provoking question or two, to which they will respond. We look forward to engaging with you in this important conversation that affirms the rights of all children.

Dr. Felicity Crawford is an associate professor of Special Education in the Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities Program. She brings the perspective of an experienced preK-12 educator who has worked for many years, and at every grade level, in racially and culturally diverse classroom settings.

Photo By Dr Satendra (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


 Share your views
  1. Removing barriers in the physical environment is easy. It is the barriers that involve people in general. Those are the real barriers. For instance for educators to create individualized curriculum n carrying it out with passion n create acceptance among students.

  2. How do we truly change people’s perspective of students with disabilities? By bringing about more awareness will it change public perspective n motivate them intrinsically to play a part in having inclusion in education n society? In society laws can be implemented to have fines and so on. In schools rules n regulations can be implemented to force inclusion. How can people be motivated intrinsically to play a part?
    Can we only be motivated by rewards and restrictions by rules and laws?

    • I felt that you are making a valid point. However, I felt that rewards and restrictions can only be effective to a certain extent. According to African American Policy Forum (2013), curriculum embraces and promotes awareness on multiculturalism through lessons and thus, schools can and should introduce special needs and disability content into all aspect of the curriculum. I think that this is a feasible method in allowing people to gain a new perspective towards people with disabilities. When the new generation of future leaders understood and have an awareness about special needs and disability, society’s view can be changed over time.

  3. Schools have been suggested to educate students from young, instilling this into students. We can encourage people with disabilities to be educators. People who have disabilities can definitely make contributions in society. So why not have them more access to contribute in the education system? They may be able to bridge relations between students w disabilities and their peers and also teachers.

  4. As I was listening to what Mr Shai said, I had a thought. Could the education system in Singapore be too rigid and too focused on the products? It could be because the education system focuses on product and developing highly intellectual individuals, teachers have to produce the results and thus does not pay much emphasis on having an inclusive classroom. Therefore what could be done to mitigate this problem is for schools to aim at moulding children at their fullest potential and having a flexible curriculum.

  5. One of the educational barriers that occurred to me was that Special Education schools are run by Voluntary Welfare Organizations(VWOs), which are govern by NCSS (National Council of Social Services) instead of being govern by Ministry of Education (MOE) (MOE, 2013).
    Targeting this point, Dr Amy Khor, MP (member of parliament) of Hong Kah GRC (grass root community), stated that ‘placing special needs education under the VWOs implies looking after the educational needs of children with special needs is mere charitable work and not the priority of the MOE’ (National Institute of Education, 2007). Thus, I felt that all forms of education regardless of Special Education or Mainstream education should be govern by MOE and not segregated and govern by different agencies.

  6. UNCRPD article listed the financial rights of persons with disabilities should receive in order to be responsive to their needs.Early intervention services is vital for children with special needs.
    However, early intervention services are expensive. Financial subsides in Singapore are given out in accordance to the results of means testing. In a document released by Ministry of Social and Family mentioned that families with per capita income more than $1000, are not able to receive any additional financial assistance. This poses as a financial barrier for parents as their income might not be able to offset the payment for services.
    It is a fact that we need to invest in early intervention programs so that it does not cost society in the future and the individual with disabilities can be self-reliant and independent. As former Prime Minister Goh Chok Thong famously stated: “The wealth of a nation lies in its people.” Investing in early intervention programs is not only a rights thing but a wise decision to maximize their capabilities, which in a long run will positively affect their contribution to a knowledge intensive industrial clusters of Singapore.

  7. Jency John Gregory August 7, 2013 at 3:36 am

    Evidently, attitudinal barriers are most prevalent and are difficult to eliminate quickly. We constantly think about how we can improve our education system to include people with disabilities in our inclusive environment. Why not take into perspective their views and ideas too? They may have a fair share to say and are unable to express it .

  8. As much as we want to include children with disabilities in schools, are we considering the barriers that they are facing?

    When children are placed in segregated education according to their disabilities, they are deemed as deemed as incapable of benefitting from “ordinary” methods of instruction.

    When individuals with disabilities are being segregated, they are being rejected of an equal opportunity to lead the life of typically developing people. This diminishes their dignity and opportunities to develop a positive social role (West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council, 2013, ).

    In a research done by Chong Jia Yin and Li Jen Yi, students from the National Institute of Education in 2011, they mentioned that many children with disabilities tend to engage in lesser social interactions as compared to typically developing children due to the deficits in their social competence. Therefore, by segregating children with disabilities, they are deprived of the opportunity to learn and develop social behaviors through observation and interaction with typically developing children. Subsequently, the self-esteem and confidence of children with disabilities will be affected when they interact with typically developing children.

    One suggestion that I would like to suggest that teachers can do to encourage and support the social interaction of children with disabilities in schools would be to introduce flexible groupings in class. This provides an opportunity for children with disabilities to interact and learn from their typically developing peers.

  9. Ultimately, a lot depends on trust between the policy makers and citizens to move towards an inclusive society. Today’s Straits Times online, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat says that trust is a critical ingredient in order to create a fair and more just society. The National Day Rally that will be coming up real soon, will address these issues on inclusion and we can now see what the government has in mind for Singapore.

  10. Attitudinal barriers cannot be overcome simply through laws. It begins within. I believe that it is vital for us individuals to first change our mindsets and views, before we can think of changing what’s around us. Yes, no doubt that we are all different. But that doesn’t give us the right to judge or discriminate one another. How would you feel when people judge you? I’m sure none of us enjoy being judged. So what right do we have to look down upon and judge others?

  11. I wanted to say that some parents feel that segregated school are better because of the fact that mainstream school lack the facilities and one-on-one attention needed for the children with special needs. And no matter how we fight against time now, the children presently will not experience the change yet. Thus, changing now is to create a new system and curriculums for the children in the future.

    Also, I wanted to asked since there is a lack in courses to teach people with disabilities specific skills such as dress making, how can we include these courses in mainstream tertiary education so that they can be part of the education and also learn a skill that is close to their heart?

  12. ” We Are Able!” campaign
    Tina Hung (Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director, Service Development Division National Council of Social Service
    “We Are Able!” campaign is part of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) publicity project to promote the vision of an inclusive society for persons with disabilities in the community.
    NCSS believes that everyone can play a part in creating a society which includes persons with disabilities.
    It is not the disability we focus on but rather the myriad of abilities.

    Article 7: Children with disabilities have rights and are treated in the same way as other children.
    children with disabilities can express their views and be heard

  13. I feel that it is important for one to learn to regulate his or her emotions before teachings others to do so, thus this links to the process of Social Emotional Learning process where children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Such intra and interpersonal skills can be taught therefore it should start with us as educators to teach the children we meet to be morally upright individuals so that children with disabilities do not face social barriers in school.
    (National Research Council, 2009, 2012; Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki,Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011; Goleman, 2005; Greenberg et al., 2003) as cited by Center for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, 2013, p.6

  14. The notion of ableism can only be truly removed when Singaporeans are intrinsically motivated to do so. Policies, laws and rights can be there to guide but if the attitude of people do not change our actions will show. As a nation ,we should be educated with the knowledge that people with disabilities belong to the gamut of human abilities and not elsewhere.

  15. Unfortunately, there are highly experienced early childhood professionals who are prejudiced against the abilities of our special needs learners. Hence, they fail to consider and integrate their needs into the mainstream curriculum. It undermines the value of individuals to participate fully in school and society. Empathy is our moral obligation, it involves perspective taking and it shapes our beliefs and conviction in life (Crawford, 2013). It has been a challenge for individuals to make emotional connections to the less fortunate or individuals with special needs. Thus, educators should address empathy deficit in our young learners. There is a need for us to provide opportunities for learners to interact together in an encouraging and supportive environment, learners are more likely to walk in another’s shoes and revise preconceptions and judgments of others. This could be done by practice inclusion in mainstream classroom, allowing children to embrace diversity within the classroom and engaging children in perspective taking through learning activities (show and tell, drama, home visits, etc).

  16. Joey Yuen Wai Yan August 7, 2013 at 3:44 am

    I personally believe the biggest barrier between now and effective inclusion is the mindset of people. Looking back, if spectacles weren’t invented, wouldn’t a majority of people be visually impaired. Spectacles are just a form of assistive technology just like PECS, sign language, braille and many more. Without spectacles, will I be called disabled, will I be seen as incapable or inferior? Most of us will answer no, because we see people with myopia as a minor limitation. Then what about the individuals we classify as disabled. They also have minor limitations that make them a little different from us. Why are we limiting them, segregating them, and classifying them. They are just like everyone else. It is just a simple mindset change that can impact a great deal and move Singapore towards inclusion. Then again inclusion doesn’t just mean including them physically but removing the labels and classification. There was never a term: “spectacles-bound”, I wear spectacles but I’m still included fully. Inclusion means that there will no longer be a classification and labeling of others that are “different” from us. It means everyone is equal, and everyone are treated the same.

  17. Enabling Master Plan 2012 – 2016 mentioned about early intervention and the early detection of special needs at the young age. However, the committee of the Master Plan pointed out that even though there are different phases in the early age that requires children to go for their developmental milestones screening, there is a gap between 18 months and 3 years. This is in fact, the most critical period to detect children that requires special attention. Adding on, most of the parents are unaware of the importance of screening at the young age which in turns, lead them to a confuse, unaware and helpless state when their children are diagnose with special needs at schooling age. Doctors were unable to provide information regarding intervention services too. I felt that we should create consciousness regarding to the importance of screening at the young age in order to allow early intervention to take place and help children to get the help they needed as soon as possible to avoid delay in education. We should not, also, to disregard children with delay that deemed ‘normal to be slow for some individuality’ and not provide the help they needed just because they are too young to be diagnose with a special disability.

  18. Very often, people with disabilities are often seen making a living in public by selling tissue papers, busking and hovering or sitting aimlessly waiting for donation. This has caused the public to develop a skewed perception (Ableism) towards those with disabilities; that they are only capable of doing low skilled tasks. Hence, many people with disabilities are often denied equal educational and working opportunities as they are deemed as incapable. However, many do not realise that most people with disabilities resort to making a living in public because most institutions reject those with disabilities due to their deficits. In order to eliminate such attitudinal barriers, I think people with disabilities ought to be entitled employment and educational rights in order for the public to discover their potential.

  19. The culture of the school is another issue which some teachers face. We join the school with burning passion and strong advocate to children. Yet, the school’s culture is restricting us. It seems like a battle that one has with all the staff. Our ideas are not being accepted because the culture has been there for years. Existing teachers insisted on their traditional methods and refused to step out of their comfort zone to embrace the change. Shortly, these teachers began to embrace the existing culture, which became their new comfort zone. When changes come, this same group of teachers resisted like how the existing teachers rejected initially. Come to think of it, that was the changes they wanted to create back then. The culture stopped them from thinking and achieving big.
    Gradually, people feel that it is troublesome and tedious to create change. But should “troublesome” and “tedious” be the reason that is stopping us from creating a better future for children?

  20. I feel that early childhood educators do have the knowledge and training required to teach children with special needs. The only issue (as per what Mr Shai brought up) is the lack of resources and support for teachers. We, educators, might have the passion to want to educate children with special needs, however we don’t know where we can find support and help from.
    Another good point that was brought up by Mr Shai is that we should tap on each others’ expertise and use it appropriately, in example: create a network of support.
    Another concern is the financial cost of medication. Our guest speaker shared with us how she has to pay $6/tablet for her child’s ADHD medication. Imagine how much this amount total up to in a year and the heavy burden this can be on the family in the long run. The lack of financial subsidy for medication is causing stress for the family as time passes by. The cost of the medication is rising, the requires dosage to consume increases. I think this is an area that the government can look into and probably provide additional funding in this area.

  21. It came to mind that Singapore, though still young at inclusive practices, still has a long way to go. Based on one of the seniors from Wheelock College, theory is put into practice in Boston itself. Singapore on the other hand is still discussing policies on what should be done to advocate inclusion. That being said, the Singapore government cannot do it alone. Ultimately, the government does things in the interest of the citizens of Singapore. However, if the citizens do not support what the government is doing, especially in the context of inclusive education that requires a major change in attitude, nothing the government does will succeed. Understandably, this change is not something that can be done overnight, and it is highly possible that it will only be evident in the next generation. That is provided the previous generation does not influence their children to discriminate against people with disabilities, which is highly unlikely. Therefore,from what it seems, like the way Singapore moved into a multiracial society which required sweat, blood and tears on the government’s part, the government might have to do the same in order to make inclusive education a success.

  22. If children with disability does not understand the lesson, the problem does not lie with the child with disability, but the problem lies in the environment instead. To work on children’s different learning styles, teachers should provide multiple ways of representation eg. Delivery of lesson, visuals like charts, videos, or kinesthetic like dramatisations, give thought provoking questions so children think deeply into topic.

    The prevalence of ADHD in Singapore is found to be the most common psychiatric condition amongst children and adolescents seen at the Child Guidance Clinic (CGC) in Singapore. Community studies have found the prevalence of ADHD to be between 1.7% and 16%. In managing children with ADHD, teachers should have clear and consistent boundaries for children as in what behaviours are accepted, what is not. For instance, fighting and initiating fights is not okay, sharing books with friends is okay and good. Teachers should praise children and encourage them when they have good behaviours. They may also have a reward system for children with ADHD, eg. do 5 good behaviours and they get to exchange something they like to do, eg playing outdoors.

    (Institute of Mental Health, 2012. A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brain-Computer Interface Based Intervention for the Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Retrieved from

  23. The mitigation of barriers for children with disabilities stretches beyond the the attitudinal factors only. There is a spectrum of needs and areas that influence each other, which is definitely challenging. One of the areas is that we need look beyond what will be challenging. We need to ask how can we support each other and establishing this community of support and learning. We can and we should walk together as we enable the children we have under our care.

  24. Khairun Nurhanani August 7, 2013 at 3:52 am

    We exclude children with disabilities because we don’t know how to deal with them. We exclude them because we don’t have contact with them. And we exclude them because we don’t see their strengths and potential. – This is a form of ableism because children with disabilities are not given the opportunities to optimize their strengths and build on their challenges. When this group of children were not given the opportunities that they need, they will not be able to prove to others their capabilities and abilities. Thus, we are somewhat hindering their learning and development and limiting doors to the various possibilities for them to strive and do well in life.

  25. In order to mitigate the barriers that people with disabilities face in SIngapore, we need to create a society that is accepting of people with disabilities and understand the difficulties they face. Like how Ms Lourdes Maria, an allied educator, she believes that parental involvement and communication between the child’s previous school is essential in helping the child to progress and develop (SIngTeach, 2013). These are done in order to ensure that the needs of each child is met and that the child feels accepted and part of the school. Now, my question is, if Ms Lourdes Maria can see the importance of inclusion and is implementing it, why not the other teachers and educators in our society?

  26. People who are ostracized and rejected might often experience a variety of negative reaction, such as physical illness, emotional problems, and negative affective states (Heatherton & Wyland, 2003). On the other hand, social inclusion contributes to wellness (Prilletensky, 2010). The importance of social inclusion is evident and actions have to be taken. Factors that contributes to social inclusion are power agents and attitudes of people n the society (Prilletensky, 2010). People with power can contribute more by allowing the different needs of people to be met. ). Power links the understanding of inclusion to implementing it. However, everyone in the society have a part to play in cultivating an inclusive society. Since we are all part of the society, without our personal attitudinal change towards people with special needs, the implementation will not be effective.

  27. As members of the society andnearly childhood educators, we want change. Change includes societal acceptance, inclusion and perspectives of people with disabilities, change implies that every child is entitled to equal rights of a education, change includes seeing each individual as capable and important, change is in the our attitude. It is important that we do not wait for policy makers or the government to make the change first, because as people who are advocating children’s rights we have to be the change. We have to see what are the barriers stopping us from making that change and try to overcome these barriers. It is important that we have a social support group that can help us make this change. Every child deserves to be treated equally. Sometimes the society’s attitude becomes more disabling than the disability and as early childhood professionals we have to ensure that does not happen.

  28. As mentioned, a community of support is needed in Singapore. Some questions I would like to ask is: –

    1) How is US able to have this culture of support? Is the community only formed because of the IDEA Act?

    2) How can Singapore come together to create this culture/community (not just because the government said so)?

    Mr Shai (2013) said that it’s ideal to abolish the special schools system, but do take note that even the US has special schools. An example would be the P.S. K721 Brooklyn Occupational Training Center whose mission is to enable young adults with developmental disabilities realize their talents, strengths and capabilities in order to live and work in our community as independent as possible” (P.S. K721 Brooklyn Occupational Training Center, 2013). If we want to abolish the system, are we ready to provide the support needed?

    P.S. K721 Brooklyn Occupational Training Center. (2013). Our mission. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from

  29. Teachers should be the start of change. Instilling the value of equality in children would enable them to grow up with that set of values and correct mindset that helps them with working in environments with people with other abilities. This would encourage children to understand what disability is and how similar they are. Teachers putting in an extra effort to show how the children should treat others who have a disability would be a deciding factor to how children react to others with disability in the future.

  30. I feel that all domains of barriers (i.e. social, and attitudinal, emotional, cognitive and financial) are interlinked and all of it affects each other. For example, social barriers of the society (e.g. social stigmatization) will definitely cause emotional barriers (e.g. low self esteem, inferiority) to children. The same goes for other domains as well.

    At the same time, I just wish to emphasize on the point that ‘Disability is only determined by how the society is organized.” (Albert, 2004)
    I also strongly feel that due to the lack of knowledge and services provided for children with disabilities, it only means that the environment is disabling the people with disabilities so much more than the disability that they are facing.

  31. To address social and attitudinal barriers, Ms Vashima was talking about the negative attitudes of educators in the field, and Mr Philip added on to how teachers do not teach the way they were trained to. However, Dr. Crawford (2013), mentioned in one of our classes that teachers should not be trained on what to think, but be trained, or rather, nurtured to be thinkers. I used myself as an example: I had no prior experiences working and interacting with children; hence when i entered the field i was completely clueless on what to do and how to interact with the children. I felt that my trainings failed me.
    I now learned that it is vital for us to reflect on our trainings and learnings, synthesize the information, and relate it back to my context.
    Passion; this word is widely used in this field of work as well. Many educators; especially senior teachers, would always say that they are passionate in helping and education children. However, from what I have observed from my working experiences, sometimes the word “passion” is taken for granted.
    A senioir who claimed to be very passionate, experienced and ‘well-trained’ in this field would tell me to leave a 3 year old child to run around the class because she suspects him to have ADHD.
    My chinese teacher decided to interact with him. So she sat him down, took out a big button and slide the button to the child. Without telling him the flow and rules of the informal activity she wanted to do with him, she simply said “1”, and the child immediately replied and slide the button back with “2”. This went on until they counted to 20. A 3 year old child that was constantly neglected by a ‘passionate’ and ‘well-trained’ senior teacher could count to 20 with no prompt of the instructions of the activity.
    What does that show about the ways we are “training” our educators? What does that say of our “training”? That alone made me question just how exactly are teachers “passionate” about educating children; all types of children.

  32. Teachers play an important role in mitigating the barriers that a child with disabilities may face in school. Teachers should be more adaptive in their working styles and we should not work solely around policies. We can start by being reflective of our own actions and act it. For example, we can start by not excluding children with disabilities in the class and not viewing a child with disabilities as “special”. In an experience that I had, a teacher will tend to exclude a child with autism from motor skills activities to prevent him from getting injured. By “protecting” the child, he might not be given the chance to learn the same as his other classmates. By doing so, his classmates may also view him being someone “special” and treat him “special” too. The teacher can choose to ask a friend that he is comfortable with him and allow them to engage the activity together, but with the teacher assisting him by his side.

  33. We had a wonderful conversation with valuable input by many people from different backgrounds, such as a doctor, parents and professionals in the field. We learnt about their views on what is going on in the sector and how important it is to have early intervention (Huang, 2013). It made me feel that there is more awareness about people with disabilities and that there are people who share the same thoughts as us that want to make an improvement in the situation. We explored the possibility of inclusive education and discussed about how we can introduce it in Singapore. A lecturer in special education had mentioned that inclusive teaching does not necessarily need to be carried out in the classroom setting, it can be carried out in the outdoor environment as well (Sharudin, 2013). I agree with that as outdoor learning may provide more opportunities for different learning methods, such as visual and kinesthetic learning.
    I also learnt that there are not enough manpower in schools in Singapore, as there was a parent who shared with us that the counselor who was initially facilitating her son had resigned, there was no replacement or smooth transition, which led to a negative effect on her son, who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and led to challenging behaviour that could not be controlled as he refused to take his medication (Seah, 2013). This made me feel that there is not enough help and consistency to help the student.

  34. It is important to note that these barriers which children with disabilities face as learners in school are man-made because we often overlook the fact that we are responsible for the culture of the nation. As members of the society, we always thought that culture shapes us but we forgot that our ideology and actions make up the culture too. When we think this way, we will see the need for change and that we are all responsible to make it happen. We can start by doing our part in trying to deepen our understanding about persons with disabilities through an increased interaction with them. Lim & Quah (2004) mentioned that as society, we exclude because we lack the understanding, and we do not understand because we lack interaction. Therefore, I think interaction can be one starting point towards removing the barriers faced by persons with disability.

  35. We had a wonderful conversation with valuable input by many people from different backgrounds, such as a doctor, parents and professionals in the field. We learnt about their views on what is going on in the sector and how important it is to have early intervention (Huang, 2013). It made me feel that there is more awareness about people with disabilities and that there are people who share the same thoughts as us that want to make an improvement in the situation. We explored the possibility of inclusive education and discussed about how we can introduce it in Singapore. A lecturer in special education had mentioned that inclusive teaching does not necessarily need to be carried out in the classroom setting, it can be carried out in the outdoor environment as well (Sharudin, 2013). I agree with that as outdoor learning may provide more opportunities for different learning methods, such as visual and kinaesthetic learning.
    I also learnt that there are not enough manpower in schools in Singapore, as there was a parent who shared with us that the counselor who was initially facilitating her son had resigned, there was no replacement or smooth transition, which led to a negative effect on her son, who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and led to challenging behaviour that could not be controlled as he refused to take his medication (Seah, 2013). This made me feel that there is not enough help and consistency to help the student.

  36. Grosenick & Reynold (1978) and Turnbull & Schulz (1979) states that mainstreaming means an educational arrangement of returning students from special education classrooms to general education classroom for non-academic purpose like music and art lesson (Turnbull, Turnbull, Wehmeyer & Shogren, 2013).
    However, by only including them during nonacademic time, won’t children in mainstream school grow up having this misconception that children with special need can only learn non-academic subjects? Will this lead them to think that people with special needs are only qualified to do low skilled labor jobs?

  37. Bryant Goh Weihan August 7, 2013 at 4:06 am

    With regards to Singapore signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Singaporeans should not be overly dependent on the government to make the change. The Enabling Masterplan 2012 to 2016 has been created in response to Singapore ratifying the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. As the saying goes, “it takes two hands to clap”, over dependence on the government will not make an effective change. As much as we want to see the change, efforts from both the government and the citizens is required so as to create a culture that embraces and includes individuals with disabilities.
    Thus, a combined effort and change in attitudes towards individuals with disabilities would be critical for an effective change.
    However, Singapore might be back at the same problem during 2017 for not being successful in creating an inclusive environment if decisions for change do not include the voice of persons with disabilities. Without involving the individuals with disabilities in the change, the change might be focused on what society thinks would be best for them but not thinking about what the individuals with disabilities want.

    Another critical factor to consider to make the change effective is also being able to take on the perspective of an individual with disabilities in order to know what the policy created or changes made would mean to me and what are the implications.

  38. Personally, i feel that the environment is disabling. The environment of most places, schools, and organizations are not universally designed and they do not practice full inclusion. This deprives people both with and without disabilities the opportunity to interact and know more about each other. Without sufficient knowledge, we often exclude them, thinking it would be better if the environment suits their needs. Therefore many people support the idea of children with only mild special needs or disabilities to attend special schools.
    Another reason why people do not really support it, is because they have not seen successful examples of inclusion and are not aware that inclusion is possible.
    However, even though there are organizations and schools who are interested and believe in creating an inclusive environment, they do not have the grants to modify the school’s or workplace’s physical structure or buy equipment or assistive technology to assist people with special needs or disabilities. The government has recognized all these problems.
    According to the Enabling masterplan 2012-2016, they’re planning to include children with special needs or disabilities into mainstream classroom and into the Compulsory Education Act. They are also planning to implement policies to deal with the financial burden families have. Community organizations and grassroots are working together to come out with plans to bond community together. Public education will be put in place to raise consciousness level in everyone to allow them to have a better understanding of ableism, people with disabilities and special needs.

  39. After today’s conversation there are three main points that spoke out to me.

    1) Are we for full or partial inclusion
    Is Singapore ready for full inclusion into the main stream? Based on Mr Shai, he mentioned that we could include children who are ready to be fitted into the main stream programs and those who are not ready to remain at the special needs school. By doing this, we are promoting partial inclusion rather than full, isn’t it not?
    2) The government (policy) is suppose to represent the voice of the community and their needs. But do the policy makers really know what people with a certain disability needs in order to live a daily life. Or are the policy makers just doing things that they think is right?

    3) After speaking to Sherlyn from NCSS, I’ve discovered that yes the government is doing something and they are funding organizations like NCSS. But the question is, “is it enough?” So I asked Sherlyn and her answer was “to an organization, it is never enough but that does not mean that government is not helping. It is how we go about using what we are given” so now my question is “are we using the provides fund wisely and appropriately?”

  40. In establishing a community of support, it is essential that it is not only the job of the educator to create an inclusive society. The society is made of many different individuals and groups. This is where we can draw support from because it is the job of ALL in creating inclusion. Healthcare, media and other industries should work together to effectively mitigate the barriers.

    Now that Singapore has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it is important that we take further action on mitigating the different barriers, especially for learners with disabilities. This agreement covers the areas of education, healthcare and accessibility (Chin, 2013) . Therefore, it is important for society to work together to change the attitudes and perspective towards people with disabilities.

    Chin, D. (2013). Singapore ratifies UN agreement granting equal rights to the disabled. Retrieved from

  41. To make a change, it takes more than an individual to advocate for the change, but rather, there is a need for the country to work together as a community and work towards the same goal. I feel that the main barrier in Singapore is the attitude that we have towards inclusion and the view with have towards people with special needs. Because of this fixed mindset that we have on people with disabilities that they are incompetent and not as capable as typically developing children, there is segregation within the country. I feel that the classroom is a reflection of the society. What children learn in the classroom, their values and believes, affects how they behave with the people around the, and the society. Therefore as an educator I feel very strongly that it is our role to inculcate the right values and believes in children as a young age.

    I feel that in society, to remove ableism, we have to acknowledge that ppl with disabilities are different. We also have to acknowledge that each of us are different because of our own differences, in our appearances, in the way we learn and the challenges that we face.
    So what right do we have to discriminate or exclude people with disabilities just because they are different? We are all different no one person is alike. Who are we to judge others to say that they are different just because the challenge that is faced is not a norm.
    People with disabilities are only segregated because they have a challenge or a difference that they are not given help and support to overcome. Why are they not given the means to overcome it? I feel that this is because by making the changes to our system, it is seen as a problem to our set system that people do not wish to change. What I think is that each human being has the right to be included and to be accepted in their community regardless of their challenges. Everyone should have the support given to overcome their challenges and not only given support when the challenge is faced by the majority of the people.