Disabled get their own one-stop village

The supermarket at the Enabling Village features lower shelves and wider aisles as well as assistive devices and help buttons.
The supermarket at the Enabling Village features lower shelves and wider aisles as well as assistive devices and help buttons. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The outdoor amphitheatre at the Enabling Village, a one-stop place for people with disabilities.
The outdoor amphitheatre at the Enabling Village, a one-stop place for people with disabilities.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The playground at the Enabling Village. The facilities at the community space can be used by both people with and without disabilities.
The playground at the Enabling Village. The facilities at the community space can be used by both people with and without disabilities.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The Enabling Village also features an art gallery with drawings by people with autism.
The Enabling Village also features an art gallery with drawings by people with autism. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Enabling Village will have facilities and services dedicated to integrating them with others in society

People with disabilities can now conveniently access a range of facilities and services catered to them, all in one site.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the Enabling Village, the first community space here dedicated to integrating people with disabilities in society.

Others too can make use of the facilities and services - some amenities in the Enabling Village are rare in the area and were built to cater to residents nearby.

"In Singapore, we are building a fair and just society which respects every person, especially persons with disabilities... Each of us can contribute in a different way, no matter who he or she is, what he or she is born with or born without," he said.

"As SG50 draws to a close, it is timely to reflect on the kind of society we want to build in the future... We must continue to build a more inclusive society, valuing everyone and promoting active citizenship."

The masterplan for the disability sector aims to make Singapore more accessible for all. Mr Lee said the Enabling Village would bring "new opportunities" for people with disabilities, giving job support while also promoting interaction with the wider community through shared spaces and events.

The 30,000 sq m site, located near the Redhill MRT station, offers the only gym and FairPrice supermarket in Lengkok Bahru. They have universal design features so they can be used by people with and without disabilities. For instance, the supermarket has lower checkout counters for wheelchair users, and magnifying glasses so labels are easily read.

There are also food outlets run by Soul Food and Shatec, which hire people with disabilities, and an art gallery where people can buy artworks and merchandise designed by people with autism.

To help people with disabilities improve their job prospects, the Enabling Village also has an information and career centre, and training facilities like a mock hotel room to learn housekeeping. A range of training courses is also offered.

The village cost $25 million to build and was developed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and SG Enable, a government-established agency which helps people with disabilities.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said the Enabling Village was another step towards building a more inclusive society. "We also hope to help (people with disabilities) live more independent lives and be more engaged in the wider community."

SG Enable chief executive Ku Geok Boon said residents in the mature estate of Lengkok Bahru, especially if they are older with mobility issues, can also use the new space.

Ms Nur Madiah Hidayah Lim, 34, who uses a wheelchair, completed a course at a training call centre there. "There is a sheltered path all the way from the MRT station," said the Jurong resident. "We have easy access to the food outlets and supermarket, and it's good to have them all at one spot."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'One-stop community space for disabled people'. Print Edition | Subscribe