Budget airline Tigerair held a training session for 30 crew members on Tuesday to help them give hearing and sight-impaired passengers a better journey.
The Singapore Association for the Deaf and Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped is helping the company to launch a new training programme for its frontline staff and 465 cabin crew to ensure that the special needs of these travellers are met.
Tigerair's chief corporate services officer Xavier Lim said: "The purpose is to help our staff better understand the needs of our customers, so that if they encounter such customers in their course of work, they will be better trained in handling them."
Deaf and visually handicapped travellers will not have to pay additional fees to benefit from the service, however they are required to travel with a carer.
SADeaf senior manager Wong Ai Ling, 50, is profoundly deaf and has encountered many problems typical of those experienced by people with similar handicaps. "At some airports we weren't aware that announcements were made for the change of gates or for flight delays," she said through an interpreter. "There were no signs or information given to us. It would be helpful if they could send us a message to inform us."
At the training session, Ms Wong explained how crew members can communicate flight and seat numbers through sign language.
Tigerair will work together with the SAVH to train staff on how to perform duties such as guiding visually handicapped travellers to lavatories and to their seats.
"Sometimes the handicapped are afraid to voice out their need for help as they fear drawing too much attention to themselves," said Ms Samantha Peh, 51, a full-time therapy assistant at SAVH. "Knowing that trained staff are around will make them feel much more at ease."
Tigerair will include elements of yesterday's session into its overall training programme for cabin crew members.
Ms Stacey Wong, a 48-year-old customer service supervisor for the airline, was moved to tears by the challenges that handicapped passengers face. She said: "It's not easy being in their world. I want to serve them as best I can."