SINGAPORE – Mrs. Faraliza Zainal’s biggest concern for her son, who suffers from autism and tuberous sclerosis – non-cancerous tumors – is his seizures which can strike anytime and anywhere.
Feeling anxious or tired can trigger Ashraf, 22,’s epilepsy, and it doesn’t help that “he’s worried”, she said.
He once had an episode at work, but luckily it was at a disability employment center run by Madame Faraliza – the My Inspiring Journey hub. “But what if it happens in an open employment setting?” she says.
His concerns were heard in the latest iteration of the Disability Roadmap launched on Wednesday August 17 to support people with disabilities (PWD) and enable them to contribute to society.
The Enabling 2030 Master Plan has set out initiatives to be rolled out over the next eight years to address the areas of lifelong learning, employment and creating an inclusive environment for people disabilities.
Highlights include a target of 40% employment for people with disabilities, up from 30.1% currently, by increasing the number of inclusive employers and other forms of employment such as temporary task-type jobs.
It also includes enabling service hubs, or centers to support people with disabilities in the neighborhood, and a new task force to provide alternative models of community living.
“These are good plans, but their impact will depend on how they are rolled out,” Ms Faraliza said. She gave the example of how her son needs support when his epilepsy hits and sensors to notify helpers when it happens.
She added that the plan to boost employment for people with disabilities could be more helpful for those with lower support needs, rather than those with moderate to high support needs like her son.
She welcomed the Blueprint’s proposals to support caregivers, including Enabling Service Centers, which will provide caregivers with the option of walk-in respite care.
Director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore, Sherena Loh, who sits on the steering committee for the new Empowering Master Plan, herself has muscular dystrophy – a genetic condition that gradually weakens muscles.
Speaking at the launch of the master plan at AWWA’s Home and Day Activity Center for Disabled Adults in Pasir Ris on Wednesday, she said being able to work makes her feel part of the community. She welcomed the blueprint’s proposal to improve access to assistive technologies to help people with disabilities overcome their limitations.