Photo above: Mr Ang Pua Tiam (left), 35, and Mr Vincent Goh (right), 19, are employees of Bizlink, a company that employs people with disabilities.
Singaporeans today are more accepting of people with disabilities as part of the community, workplace and everyday life, said the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD).
SPD conducted a nationwide survey to gather the public's perception towards people with disabilities, and found a considerable improvement in the public's perceived barriers in communicating with the disabled, among other findings.
In 2009, 43 per cent of respondents said they think it is harder to communicate and deal with people with disabilities than non-disabled people. This percentage dropped to 25.3 per cent in the latest 2011 survey.
The survey also recorded a large drop in the number of people who feel that people with disabilities are dependent on others. In 2009, 47 per cent of the respondents agreed with the statement. The number dropped to 13.4 per cent in the 2011 polls.
Approximately 53 per cent of Singaporeans surveyed said they think people with disabilities should be accompanied by a non-disabled person when going out to public places - a fall from the 66 per cent in the 2009 poll.
There was also a heartening indication that Singaporeans are becoming more helpful towards those with disabilities.
Ninety-three per cent agreed that more can be done to help people with disabilities on public transportation in Singapore, and 96.1 per cent said more members of the public should give way to people with disabilities when entering lifts and boarding trains.
More than 65 per cent of the respondents said that they had assisted someone with a disability in the last 12 months, and 90.2 per cent indicated that they will not hesitate to help the disabled.
More Singaporeans are recognising that people with disabilities are on par with those without in terms of abilities, and can be valuable members of society.
Only 8.8 per cent of the respondents felt that people with disabilities are unable to perform as well as non-disabled people at work, a sharp decrease from the 23 per cent in 2009.
A whopping 80.3 per cent of 61 respondents who are in a position to hire are open to employing people with physical disabilities.
Regarding children with disabilities, 60.8 per cent of the respondents agreed that they should be studying in mainstream schools alongside non-disabled children.
This study is part of the SPD's on-going 'I Accept' campaign, which aims to encourage members of the public to accept people with disabilities as equal members of the society.
Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of the SPD, said: "Besides generating awareness and greater acceptance of people with disabilities in major areas such as employment and education, we hope to also cultivate graciousness in the public's everyday encounters with people with disabilities such as showing a little more patience, giving way and lending a helping hand."
A total of 904 respondents aged between 15 and 65 were surveyed from end November till end December.
The SPD's efforts to level the playing field for people with disabilities includes the Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IAC), managed by SPD.
It is the only centre in Singapore that provides IT training across disability types, which helps people with disabilities find greater independence through securing jobs of higher value.