Friday 13 September 2013

Disabled's new drive to tackle apathy

Association's campaign aims to raise awareness of difficulties faced
By Lim Yi Han, The Straits  Times, 12 Sep 2013

FROM taking trains to getting into lifts, the disabled face plenty of obstacles getting around.

Now, the Disabled People's Association (DPA) wants the public to realise this and give way as it launches its biggest awareness campaign yet.

"Their greatest disability is our apathy" is the tagline for the six-week campaign, which starts next Monday.

Not only will posters be put up in trains, MRT stations and bus stops, the campaign will also feature a short video of Paralympic swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, which shows the 21-year-old going about her daily routine.

The clip, which will be shown on social media sites such as YouTube and in cinemas, ends with her being obstructed at a barrier-free access ramp, because a car is parked there.

DPA president Nicholas Aw said yesterday that there is "still a lot to do to change mindsets".

"The real issue is whether people are aware of the difficulties faced by those with disabilities. If they knew that their actions may cause inconvenience to others, I'm very sure people will give way," he said.

Ms Yip, who was born with muscular dystrophy, said that one common problem for the disabled is crowded lifts.

The Singapore Management University undergraduate explained: "It will be nice if people can step out of crowded lifts to give way, or for someone to help us at places which are inaccessible to wheelchair users.

"There are people who do this now, but hopefully more can do it too, if they are not in a rush. It means a lot when someone empathises, not sympathises."

Another wheelchair user, Mr Norrizwan Rasip, an IT consultant, pointed to train travel as an issue.

The 33-year-old said: "Taking trains is a big issue for us, especially during peak periods. There is no way someone on a wheelchair can even enter the train."

He believes the new campaign is a good step towards improving matters for the disabled.

"The first step is to educate people, but I hope it is not a one-off campaign because habits are hard to change, and people need constant reminders to give way."

The DPA is spending $358,000 on advertising space, but much of the campaign has been sponsored.

Ad agency Goodfellas, for instance, came up with the concept for free, while production house Shooting Gallery Asia produced the video and posters.

Change mindset on disabled people

THERE is room for improvement in how we treat disabled people ("Disabled's new drive to tackle apathy"; Thursday).

Much has been done for those who have undergone special training programmes to prepare them for self-sustaining careers, and both public and private institutions have provided steady employment for them.

Quite a number of our buildings, such as offices, shopping malls and hospitals, are disabled-friendly, and there are reserved parking spaces in almost every carpark.

Despite these positive developments, the public's attitude towards disabled people still leaves much to be desired.

Singaporeans seem indifferent to their needs, especially in crowded lifts and trains.

The irony is that a building or facility may be accessible to the disabled, but the people within it may not be so.

The Disabled People's Association's campaign tagline, "Their greatest disability is our apathy", is timely and aptly describes the mindset of some members of our society.

While it is good to raise public awareness of the difficulties faced by disabled people, more effective measures should be taken to enhance their welfare. Their well-being must be high on the nation's agenda.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng
ST Forum, 14 Sep 2013


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