Singapore’s unique ‘village’ enabling persons with disabilities using innovation

PTI, Feb 6, 2023, 12:25 PM IST

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A supermarket with sliding doors and wider walkways, shopping trolleys that could be pushed by wheelchairs, braille lettering on the washroom doors and tactile indicators on the floor are some of the features of a unique ”village” here in Singapore that is using innovation to support persons with disabilities.

Called ”Enabling Village” or ”EV”, the first-of-its-kind community space is an all-accessible, inclusive, sensory-friendly space dedicated to integrating persons with disabilities into society.

”The tenants include social businesses that train and hire persons with disabilities, and these businesses also showcase the abilities of persons with disabilities when visitors shop or dine at EV. The social businesses, along with inclusive events and community services such as the inclusive gym, provide opportunities for persons with disabilities to interact alongside those without disabilities while providing the dignity of work to persons with disabilities,” Ku Geok Boon, Chief Executive Officer, SG Enable told PTI.

”We hope that through our collective effort, more persons with disabilities will lead better and meaningful lives, and together, we can bring more hope and opportunity to all and build a more inclusive society,” she added.

Boon explained that the village also hosts several training and career fairs and CV Clinics for persons with disabilities, bringing together disability-inclusive employers, training providers and experienced business professionals across a myriad of sectors to offer jobs, training workshops on interview tips and one-to-one consultations on CV writing.

The space attracts visitors from different countries, who are keen on exploring a similar set-up or implementing takeaways for inclusive spaces.

”Enabling Village hosts many visitors, both local and international guests, and we want to inspire and show everyone how a society can be more inclusive towards persons with disabilities with universal design, enabling technology, and an inclusive culture.

”The village has enabled various sectors and community partners to offer innovative services that support inclusion and meet gaps in the disability landscape. These prototypes have catalysed greater disability inclusion efforts beyond Enabling Village – in domains such as early childhood education, sports and wellness, and inclusive training and employment,” she said.

Enabling Village also successfully introduced many first prototypes of inclusive amenities – the first inclusive gym and inclusive pre-school in Singapore.

”These prototypes have catalysed greater disability inclusion efforts beyond EV. A design thinking sprint with focus group discussions was also conducted with persons with disabilities and the community during the planning phase to gather inputs, which were later adapted in the universal design features by the architect and development of placemaking strategies,” she said.

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