Disabled people want to land decent jobs, too

GEORGE TOWN - Being disabled never stopped Anne Lim from striving to become a successful person.

Armed with a computer and good command of English, the 44-year-old has been earning a living by doing online work.

However, it is easier said than done.

Since 2010, Lim has been trying to work from home but found it difficult to get jobs as a disabled person.

"I found a few jobs. I was a paid online community host, where I interacted with members in an online forum.

"I also took part in a website development project and did data entry work, but the jobs only lasted four to five months.

"When my employers found alternatives, they terminated my services. In most of my jobs, I only made RM400 (S$144) to RM500 a month.

"Being disabled, I know it's hard for me to get the minimum wage of RM900, but life would be a lot easier if I can make RM700 a month," she said.

Lim and her sister Julie, 39, suffer from metachromatic leukodystrophy, a condition where the protective substance around the nerves in their spinal cord deteriorated when they were toddlers.

The resulting nerve damage led to spasticity, fits and frequent muscle spasms.

In spite of being wheelchair-bound and never having been to regular school, Lim learnt English through reading and writing.

"I once spent six years as a receptionist. I opened doors and answered phone calls. But it is hard for me to leave home and go to work," she said.

When contacted, Asia Community Service (ACS) chief executive officer Khor Ai-Na said Lim's needs depicted the missing link in inducting the disabled into the country's working society.

ACS has been helping the disabled to earn an income through projects such as weaving, pottery, paper-making or turning used cooking oil into hand soap since 1996.

"What Anne needs is a job coach or a mediator. This person will find stable work for her and deal with employers to make sure she gets a good contract.

"A job coach would also guide the handicapped and condition them to deal with the stress of working," she said.

Khor said much of the care system for the disabled in Malaysia centred on healthcare and rehabilitation.

"But once the disabled achieve stable health, they are left in a lurch. There are few resources to help the disabled be productive members of society and lead fulfilling lives," she added.

She urged the state government to set up job coaching services for the disabled.