Disabled workers as good as everyone else

SINGAPORE - We are heartened that companies are more forthcoming in employing persons with disabilities ("More office jobs available to the disabled"; Sunday).

Persons with disabilities are under-tapped talent that companies could engage to meet their manpower needs. They may have physical or sensory limitations, but many are cognitively capable. Many want, and are able, to contribute to society.

Given the opportunities, training and job accommodation support such as assistive technology, restructuring of job functions and workplace adjustments, they can perform effectively just like everyone else.

Job accommodation support can be simple and not necessarily excessive.

It is crucial that employers communicate with staff who have disabilities on the adjustments required, depending on their abilities and limitations.

There are programmes available to help gear persons with disabilities for employment.

For example, the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) provides vocational training such as that offered by our Infocomm Accessibility Centre certificate in office skills to equip persons with disabilities with the necessary computer skills for office jobs.

The SPD's Sheltered Workshop also offers trainees on-the-job training such as data entry, scanning and telemarketing, among other skills.

A new programme called the Transition Programme for Employment also provides those who have stroke or spinal cord injuries with active rehabilitation, work readiness training and employment support, to prepare them for their return to the workforce.

These programmes aside, it is important that society be receptive to employing persons with disabilities.

Some employers may be hesitant to hire them because of misperceptions that they are incapable or often need more assistance than other workers.

The truth is that many have abilities and, with reasonable job accommodation, can be as effective and productive as everyone else.

There is a need for greater awareness to correct such misperceptions and to encourage more companies to employ people with disabilities, taking us a step towards becoming a truly inclusive nation.

Employers who are interested to know how people with disabilities and their potential employers can be supported to facilitate successful hiring and job accommodation can contact our employment support team.

Abhimanyau Pal
Executive Director
Society for the Physically Disabled