Persons with special needs are valuable stakeholders

We agree with Mr Christopher Loy Ki-Jin that the views of people with special needs and their caregivers should be sought when making policies.

They should also be consulted in the workplace (Don't shut out voices of those with autism; Jan 14).

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is committed to jointly developing ideas and solutions with the disability sector.

In coming up with the recommendations in the Third Enabling Masterplan (2017-2021), more than 400 persons with special needs, their caregivers, voluntary welfare organisations, and employers were consulted.

The steering committee which developed the masterplan also included members with special needs.

And now, we are working collectively with the community, as well as the public and private sectors to implement its recommendations.

The Government has also expanded our range of initiatives to support persons with special needs in finding employment that suits their interests and capabilities.

The Job Placement Job Support Programme administered by SG Enable helps match individuals to suitable jobs, and provides workplace support through job coaching to ease the transition process.

To encourage inclusive hiring among more employers, the Open Door Programme provides funding for employee training, workplace modifications, job redesign and the purchase of assistive technology devices to better support persons with special needs at work.

The grants also cover training costs for fellow employees in the workplace to help them better understand how they can support their co-workers with disabilities more effectively.

To date, both programmes have helped to place over 2,000 persons with special needs in jobs.

We will continue to strengthen our partnerships with the community and our stakeholders so that persons with special needs can achieve their fullest potential and participate actively in society.

Alvin Tan (Dr)

Director, Disability Office

Ministry of Social and Family Development

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2019, with the headline 'Persons with special needs are valuable stakeholders'. Print Edition | Subscribe