SBS Transit launches exhibition to encourage consideration for commuters with disabilities

Above: Mr Lawrence Tan, 66, who is partially blind, spoke about his personal experiences on public transport at yesterday's exhibition launch. Left: Sengkang Primary School pupil Hedrian Al-Shahiryn Hairul Nizam, 12, wears a blindfold to simulate the
Sengkang Primary School pupil Hedrian Al-Shahiryn Hairul Nizam, 12, wears a blindfold to simulate the experience of a visually impaired commuter, as his schoolmate Sim Jun Yen, 12, guides him. ST PHOTOS: JASON QUAH

SBS Transit launches 10-day exhibition to promote inclusiveness on public transport

Diagnosed with glaucoma in 2004, Mr Lawrence Tan imagined it would be a challenge to continue taking the bus as he gradually lost vision in both eyes.

But the 66-year-old, who uses a white cane because he is now blind in the left eye and has only 20 per cent vision in the right, said bus captains and other passengers have been helpful.

Mr Tan, who is an inclusion ambassador for the Disabled People's Association, recalled a recent experience where he was alone at a bus stop in the River Valley area: "The bus door opened and the driver said, 'Uncle, Bus 54'."

It was the bus he needed to take to the Thomson area. Mr Tan said the bus captain then helped him up the bus.

"I was impressed by his attitude. He even guided me to a seat and asked me where I wanted to go."

To promote inclusiveness on public transport, SBS Transit yesterday launched a 10-day exhibition at the Sengkang Bus Interchange as part of CARES Kindness Month, an annual event now into its fourth iteration.

DEVELOPING EMPATHY

I felt like I was going to fall. Next time, I will help by holding their elbow and guiding them to their destination because I now know how hard it is.

SENGKANG PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPIL HEDRIAN AL-SHAHIRYN, 12, who had a blindfold put on him.

The transport provider roped in the Disabled People's Association for a chat session, with Mr Tan describing his personal experience.

 
 

The Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, Association For Persons with Special Needs (APSN) and Guide Dogs Singapore were also there to help educate and demonstrate to commuters how travelling can be made more pleasant for people with disabilities.

Ms Samantha Lim, who works as a bakery instructor at the APSN, told The Straits Times that some of her students have found it tough on buses and trains, especially during a meltdown. The social service organisation provides special education for people with mild intellectual disability.

"For them to cope with a meltdown, they create noises. But to others, it is a nuisance," said Ms Lim, 29.

"Some of the students tell me later in class that they were scolded for being loud on the bus."

Close to 100 pupils from primary schools and a kindergarten attended the event yesterday. They were given opportunities to understand the challenges that people with disabilities face.

For instance, some of the pupils wore blindfolds while others were taught how to lend a hand to someone who is visually impaired.

Hedrian Al-Shahiryn Hairul Nizam, 12, had a blindfold put on him. "I felt like I was going to fall. Next time, I will help by holding their elbow and guiding them to their destination because I now know how hard it is," said the Sengkang Primary School pupil.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'Lending a helping hand to commuters in need'. Print Edition | Subscribe