Be creative in raising awareness of disabilities

Much has been said about building an inclusive society in Singapore ("S'poreans 'don't walk the talk' on special needs kids"; last Tuesday).

However, this goal would call for a coordinated and multipronged approach.

On the international level, Singapore hosted the 8th Asean Para Games last year. Although not as well known as the SEA Games, the event generated some publicity on people with disabilities.

Locally, raising awareness through creative ways is the first step towards an inclusive society.

The recent play Falling, by Pangdemonium, is one good example. Two of my colleagues who watched it raved enthusiastically about how enlightened they have become towards caregivers of people with autism.

The video Look Beyond My Disability, See The True Me on the National Council of Social Service website is another example.

It conveys the message that when you judge someone based on a diagnosis, you miss out on their abilities and uniqueness.

In addition, I am heartened that voluntary welfare organisations such as the Disabled People's Association and SPD also attempt to reach out to more corporations via free disability awareness talks at workplaces.

Our public transport system has also reached a milestone in catering to people with disabilities- our buses are wheelchair-accessible, and MRT stations include barrier-free access routes.

Sometimes, people forget that a person with disability is, first and foremost, a human being with desires, talents and skills, just like everyone else.

With transport accessibility, it is common to see more people with disabilities in public places, such as shopping malls and eateries, as compared with 10 years ago.

All human beings, including people with disabilities, have some basic characteristics that they all share.

Sometimes, people forget that a person with disability is, first and foremost, a human being with desires, talents and skills, just like everyone else.

Every person deserves the chance to reach his full potential.

Let us treat people with disabilities like how we would treat anyone else.

Only with this mindset shift can the dream of an inclusive society come true.

Peggy Chia Kwee Choo (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'Be creative in raising awareness of disabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe