Ngee Ann Poly launches campaign for more inclusive campus

Business student Celine Lee, 18, who is able-bodied, balancing a tray with a cup of water yesterday while using a wheelchair in the Ngee Ann Polytechnic canteen. The poly yesterday launched a month-long campaign to foster a more inclusive and respect
Business student Celine Lee, 18, who is able-bodied, balancing a tray with a cup of water yesterday while using a wheelchair in the Ngee Ann Polytechnic canteen. The poly yesterday launched a month-long campaign to foster a more inclusive and respectful campus, and better integrate students with special educational needs.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Like any typical 19-year-old, Ms Clydia Tan grapples with the daily academic demands of school and enjoys hanging out with her friends.

However, unlike her peers, she suffers from a hearing impairment and relies on hearing aids. But because of years of intense speech therapy she received, her disability is hardly noticed by students and lecturers at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

"They don't see you for your disability but rather they see you as a person," said the final-year student studying for a Diploma in Health Sciences (Nursing).

Ms Tan is one of about 200 students with disabilities who are the focus of the polytechnic's month- long campaign titled Inclusivity and Me, which was launched yesterday.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

Some 200 staff and students signed an inclusivity pledge. Led by students of the polytechnic's Hearing-impaired Club, they were taught how to use sign language to take the pledge: "Together, we include everyone here."

Many students also experienced first-hand the challenge of navigating the polytechnic's canteen in a wheelchair.

The campaign, part of the polytechnic's annual Give Back programme, aims to better integrate its students with special educational needs (SEN) and to advocate for a more inclusive campus.

Workshops will be held to guide students and staff on how to interact especially with those with visual, learning, physical and intellectual disabilities.

Dr Lim Gaik Bee, co-chairman of the committee that spearheaded the campaign, noted the importance of an inclusive campus environment, saying: "Every person counts... We have to look beyond their disabilities to their abilities."

The polytechnic had in April launched a special room for its SEN students. Equipped with multi-sensory toys and whiteboards, it provides a safe space for those who are overwhelmed to unwind and express their thoughts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'Ngee Ann Poly launches campaign for more inclusive campus'. Print Edition | Subscribe