No clear data on disability situation in Singapore

No clear data on disability situation in Singapore
File photo of an SBS Transit bus captain assisting a wheelchair user to get on board a WAB bus at a bus stop.

SINGAPORE - Just how many Singaporeans are disabled is unclear, which has prompted calls for better data.

Singapore has about 97,200 people with disabilities, with the vast majority - 77,200 - above 18 years old, according to 2010 data from the Health and Education ministries.

However, no one knows the exact number for sure.

This is because there is no official central registry of the disabled here or comprehensive disability study done. Current figures also do not accurately capture the full population of people with disabilities.

This problem of not having specific data had been flagged in the Enabling Masterplan 2007 and 2012. Both editions of the national blueprint for improving disability programmes called for a study to determine the prevalence rate of disabilities in Singapore.

Disability advocates agree that some form of study should be done to help the authorities better meet the needs of the community.

"Statistics are important. When you know the numbers, then you know how to plan," says Mr Ron Chandran-Dudley, 79, who founded the Disabled People's Association.

"But if you don't know the numbers, people can sit back and say (services and programmes are) too expensive. We are a very pragmatic nation, so let's look at the numbers. How many of our people are deprived? We won't know otherwise."

Handicaps Welfare Association president Edmund Wan agrees it will be beneficial to know such figures. "Then we can target help. Is it a growing problem in this sector? We really don't know," he says.

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