Individualised solutions needed to help people with epilepsy

Society is a long way from the ideal of equal opportunities. This is very well realised by people with epilepsy ("Optimism in the face of epilepsy''; Feb 21).

Many people with epilepsy are unnecessarily restricted in their choice of employment due to ignorance about the condition and the stigma associated with it.

There are two fundamental principles that should stand behind our efforts to improve their employment prospects.

First, people with epilepsy should have the same rights as others to equal opportunity in training and employment.

Second, people with epilepsy should be regarded as having equal value. That is to say, talents are developed and weaknesses compensated for.

These fundamental principles protect society from the danger of generalisation.

From here, it is possible to develop a set of employment guidelines to promote the fair treatment of people with epilepsy.

The first thing that is needed is an agreed understanding of what epilepsy is and the problems that it may create at work.

The problems experienced by someone with epilepsy are diverse and individual.

Hence, we must encourage employers to include principles of good practice that will lead to individualised solutions that help to avoid the employment problems that are created by stigma and ignorance.

To this end, Epilepsy Care Group (Singapore) commends employers such as Han's and Cheers for taking bold steps in accepting people with epilepsy as part of their workforce.

There is an urgent need to educate everyone to prevent the social exclusion of people with epilepsy.

These people have as much to offer as any others - they are effective without any need for special help.

If their abilities are overlooked, employers will miss out on their talents, and the individual and society lose.

Goh Keng Hwee
Executive Director
Epilepsy Care Group (Singapore)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'Individualised solutions needed to help people with epilepsy'. Print Edition | Subscribe