We have launched Enabling Academy, Singapore’s first disability learning hub! Read our media release here.
Welcome to our new SG Enable website! Find what you need and read our media release about the revamp.

Disability In Singapore

What is considered a disability?

Definitions of disabilities vary widely among countries. According to Singapore's Enabling Masterplan, persons with disabilities refer to those whose prospects of securing, retaining places and advancing in education and training institutions, employment and recreation as equal members of the community are substantially reduced as a result of physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities as well as autism.[1]

As the first-stop and focal agency for disability in Singapore, SG Enable raises awareness on disability issues and facilitates access to disability schemes and services. It brings partners together to share knowledge, collaborate and innovate, striving towards a common goal of building an inclusive Singapore and enabling lives. Set up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development in 2013, it is a registered charity and an Institution of a Public Character.

The Ministry of Education oversees support for students with learning difficulties or special educational needs, while the Ministry of Health oversees support related to mental health.

What are the different types of disabilities?

Physical disabilities can result from congenital causes, or acquired from serious illnesses or injury.

The two main types of sensory disability are visual impairment and deafness/hard of hearing. People with such disabilities have either partial or complete loss of sight or hearing.

Intellectual disability is mainly established by a person’s intelligence quotient (IQ of 70 or below).

Intellectual disability is also a feature of medical conditions such as Down Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome and Williams Syndrome.

Autism is a developmental disability currently with no known causes or cures.

Singapore expanded its definition of disability in 2004 to include Autism, due to the increase in its prevalence.

In Singapore, several social service agencies cater to specific disability groups, e.g. Handicaps Welfare Association, Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf), Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, and Autism Resource Centre. SG Enable serves persons with physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities, and autism.

Prevalence rate of disability in Singapore[2]

Population groupApproximate prevalence rate
Student population2.1% of student population
18-49 years3.4% of resident population
50 years and above13.3% of resident population

When we consider Singapore has an ageing population, the number of persons with disabilities will increase significantly by 2030. The infographic below shows the declining old-age support ratio. [3]

Employment rate of persons with disabilities

According to Singapore government statistics, among resident persons with disabilities in the working ages of 15 to 64 in 2020 and 2021, on average, 30.1% were employed, 3.8% were without a job and actively looking for one, and the remaining 66.2% were outside the labour force, with most of them citing poor health or disability as the main reason.[4]

Graph showing the percentage rates by labour force status of persons with disabilities.

Increasing number of persons with autism

With better awareness and detection, there is a growing number of persons with autism. In 2014, it is estimated that 1 in 150 children have autism. 4,400 children were diagnosed with developmental issues, a 76% rise from the figure in 2010.[5]

Increase in Number of Children Diagnosed with Development Issues
2010
2,500
2014
+76%
4,400
ASD incidence amongst Children
in 160
World Health Organisation
in 150
Singapore

Sources: KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, National University Hospital

Third Enabling Masterplan

The Enabling Masterplans are national roadmaps that chart the development of programmes and services in the disability sector. They guide efforts to transform Singapore into a more caring and inclusive society, where persons with disabilities can fulfil their potential to be integral and contributing members of society. Three five-year masterplans have been released since 2007, and Singapore is currently on the Third Enabling Masterplan (2017 – 2021). SG Enable is proud to be a member of the Third Enabling Masterplan Steering Committee.

For a comprehensive view of progress of the disability sector made under the Enabling Masterplans, visit the Enabling Masterplan microsite by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. It covers progress made in many areas across key life stages, including early education, employment, health, assistive technology, and infrastructure.

Our Initiatives

Enabling Village logo
Enabling Guide Logo
Enabling Mark logo
i'mable logo
i'mable Collective logo
Enabling Lives Initiative Grant logo