Enabling Masterplan 2030: Promoting Independent Living for Persons with Disabilities
The recently released Enabling Masterplan 2030 is a national roadmap guiding efforts to create a more inclusive Singapore by 2030. How has SG Enable advanced disability inclusion since the release of the 3rd Enabling Masterplan (EMP3) five years ago? How will we work with partners to achieve this 2030 goal? Read on to find out!
This article is the second in a three-part series.
Progress since EMP3
Assistive technology (AT) has great potential in helping persons with disabilities to learn, work and live independently. That is why we made AT more affordable and encouraged the adoption of AT.
In February 2022, the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF), which subsidises up to 90% of the cost of AT devices, was enhanced to provide better lifetime support for beneficiaries:
- Singaporeans with a per capita household income of between $801 and $2000 now qualify for higher levels of subsidies.
- For seniors with disabilities, the ATF now also covers items that were previously covered only under the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (e.g. oxygen concentrators, suction pumps, spectacles). This means that seniors with disabilities do not need to make a separate application under SMF for these items, but can continue to tap ATF instead.
In 2021, we supported over 2,700 persons with disabilities through administering ATF.
Additionally, Tech Able, an AT centre that we jointly manage with SPD, was refurbished in 2018 to include new accessibility features that enhance the experience of persons with disabilities visiting the space. Tech Able also developed a web app for people to browse AT devices online before visiting the centre for assessment and training in AT use.
With its spacious layout, height-adjustable furniture, directional audio and tactile map, persons with disabilities can explore Tech Able at their own pace.
To facilitate cross-cutting innovations in disability and community care, SG Enable formed the Enabling Technology Advisory Group (ETAG) with the Agency for Integrated Care in October 2020. The group has since identified four areas of focus: tele-practice, smart homes for independent living, robotics for service delivery and operations, and speech translation in care settings.
We also leveraged technology to improve the commuting experience for persons with disabilities. We worked with Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) to trial the Mobility Assistance for the Visually Impaired and Special Users (MAVIS) app in 2019. The app provides personalised journey guidance to commuters with disabilities and alerts bus captains to such commuters waiting to board or alight from the bus so that they can assist the commuters with disabilities. The trial was well-received, scaled up and extended till 2024 to cover more bus services.
In this example, the MAVIS app informs the bus driver that a person with visual impairment is preparing to board at the next stop.
As part of the Digital for Life national movement, we collaborated with Microsoft Singapore and SPD on the Digital Enablement Programme to equip persons with disabilities with practical digital skills for employment and independent living. By the end of its 2021 pilot run, 64% of participants secured employment. We also worked with Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to promote its Data for All initiative to benefit persons with disabilities with free mobile data for a year.
Working towards the 2030 Goal
To enable persons with disabilities to live independently in this digital age, key digital services need to be made accessible. We will continue to engage stakeholders in transport and other key essential services such as healthcare, and across public agencies and the private sector to raise awareness and increase the adoption of e-accessibility practices. A key part is engaging with users with disabilities themselves to understand their needs. Additionally, we will build capability in the disability sector by training persons with disabilities to provide e-accessibility audits and user testing services. This will provide another employment opportunity for persons with disabilities.
In addition to its web app, Tech Able will introduce a new virtual showroom and develop more resources to help persons with disabilities and their caregivers select and purchase suitable AT. Beyond its Enabling Village space, Tech Able will expand its reach and conduct AT assessments and training at locations where persons with disabilities live, work, learn and train.
Progress since EMP3
While promoting the independence of persons with disabilities, we also made sure to support their caregivers.
In July 2019, we launched the Enabling Guide, a first-stop resource portal for persons with disabilities and their caregivers. With its curated and consolidated information on disability schemes and services, users can quickly access relevant resources based on their specified life stage or disability type. Caregivers can also find support groups on the portal, as well as listings of inclusive events and useful workshops. Since its launch, 149,000 unique visitors have used the website.
We also set up the Caregivers Pod at Enabling Village, a dedicated multi-functional space for caregivers’ peer support sessions and get-togethers. Perfect for small group sharing or organised workshops, it is a space for caregivers to learn and rest while their care recipients are engaged in activities at Enabling Village.
Working towards the 2030 Goal
To enhance support for caregivers within the community, we set up the SG Together Alliance for Action (AfA) for Caregivers of Persons with Disabilities together with the National Council of Social Service and community partners in 2021. The AfA is focused on co-developing a self-sustaining community support model and co-creating solutions to pressing issues faced by caregivers. It is supporting the implementation of Project 3i and Community Circles.
- Project 3i is a caregiver-led initiative by CaringSG to provide social and emotional support for caregivers that is integrative, individualised and intentional. It connects caregivers to form community networks and support caregivers through peer mentorship and professional support.
- Community Circles involves a small group of friends, neighbours, or volunteers, forming a ‘circle’ of practical and emotional support around caregivers.
Additionally, we will work with partners to develop a Future Care Planning Playbook for caregivers. It will provide caregivers with resources and guided support to develop a future care plan with the needs and choices of their family member with disability in mind. We want to encourage caregivers to begin conversations on important life choices earlier and provide them with a longer runway to identify suitable support and development options together with their loved ones.
If you are a person with disability or caregiver in need of support, check out the Enabling Guide.