Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
16 August–10 September 2021
Item 5 of the provisional agenda
Consideration of reports submitted by parties to the Convention under article 35
Replies of Singapore to the list of issues in relation to its initial report *
[Date received: 29 September 2020]
1.Singapore strives to build an inclusive society where persons with disabilities are recognised as, and empowered to be integral and contributing members of society. Singapore has charted Enabling Masterplans (EMPs) which are five-year roadmaps to support persons with disabilities. Three EMPs have been released since 2007. Singapore is currently implementing the Third EMP (EMP3) from 2017 to 2021.
2.Since submitting our Initial Report, we have made early intervention (EI) programmes more affordable and better tailored to the varied needs of children, and strengthened the detection of developmental needs. The education system continues to be more inclusive, with improvements in quality and scope. We have facilitated a smoother transition for students with disabilities from school to employment, and strengthened support for jobseekers with disabilities. Singapore has become more accessible, with public transport almost completely barrier-free. Strides have been made in informational accessibility, and in growing inclusive spaces and opportunities for meaningful interactions through all stages of life. We have also strengthened the eco-system of support for caregivers and made information available and accessible for them.
3.Singapore continues to do well in international benchmarking studies, with the World Bank ranking Singapore as having the highest Human Capital Index (0.88) in 2020; and the EIU ranking Singapore second highest in Asia on the Inclusive Internet Index. Singapore also ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on 27 November 2017.
4.Most recently, the world has been affected by COVID-19, and Singapore has not been spared. We have taken a human-centred approach to ensure that everyone receives help, and have worked closely with community partners to engage different disability communities, and provide them with the support they need.
Reply to question 1 of the list of issues (CRPD/C/SGP/Q/1)
5.The EMPs define “persons with disability” as those with substantially reduced prospects of securing, retaining places and advancing in education and training, employment and recreation, due to physical, intellectual, and sensory impairments, as well as developmental needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder. This definition was endorsed in 2004 by the first EMP Steering Committee, comprising representatives of the disability, private and public sectors. Singapore’s disability schemes and services are guided by this definition.
6.We determine eligibility using both medical assessments and examinations of socio-functional limitations faced by persons with disability. The EMP Steering Committee in 2004 assessed that the medical diagnosis ensured rigour in determining what constituted a disability, while the socio-functional examination ensured that economic, environmental and cultural barriers were considered. Medical certification of need and its degree also ensure that help is channelled to those with greatest need.
Supporting persons with mental health conditions
7.Persons with mental health conditions are not excluded from government assistance. Support for such persons is focused on their recovery and reintegration into society, as outlined in the National Mental Health Blueprint and the Community Mental Health Masterplan.
8.Singapore has taken steps to review legislative terminology, as language plays an important role in promoting inclusion. In the domain of criminal law, the term “unsoundness of mind” has acquired a specific legal meaning developed by our courts over decades, which is easily understood and has not posed any difficulties in practice. Hence the Penal Code Review Committee (PCRC) in 2018 recommended to retain the term “unsoundness of mind” in the Penal Code. Disability organisations were also consulted on the PCRC’s recommendations, and they did not raise any issues concerning this term.
9.Singapore has reviewed the use of the phrase “infant, lunatic, idiot, or insane person” in the Income Tax Act, and intends to remove it by end-2020. Singapore has also ensured that new legislation, including the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations promulgated in April 2020 under the COVID (Temporary Measures) Act, does not contain derogatory terminology.
10.We will continue to review our legislation and update the terminology to be disability-inclusive, in consultation with stakeholders.
Persons affected by leprosy
11.The number of leprosy cases in Singapore is very low. Existing legislation, including the Railways Act, that refer to leprosy ensure that persons with leprosy are managed in accordance with public health principles, and are not intended to discriminate against them. The Infectious Diseases Act (IDA) allows for the prevention, surveillance and response for infectious diseases, including leprosy. Persons diagnosed with leprosy are not required to be isolated under the IDA. They generally receive outpatient treatment at the National Skin Centre, based on the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. The Prisons Act and Internal Security (Detailed Persons) Rules is similarly based on the IDA and allows persons with leprosy to be moved from their current place of detention to any hospital or place specified by the Director of Medical Services, to ensure that they are provided with medical treatment.
Reply to question 2 of the list of issues
12.Singapore is committed to partnering its people, including persons with disabilities, in the spirit of the Singapore Together movement to design and implement policies. We conduct public consultation exercises before introducing major polices. Government agencies use diverse consultative methods, including Citizens’ Juries, Citizens’ Workgroups, and cross-sectoral taskforces. Citizens also provide feedback through the Government online feedback portal, REACH, which is accessible to persons with disabilities.
13.The EMPs have also been a collective effort amongst Government agencies, private sector and people sector, including persons with disabilities, disability organisations, and Social Service Agencies (SSAs). The EMPs’ recommendations were drafted through a ground-up approach with a series of engagement sessions. The progress of each EMP is periodically shared, and persons with disabilities can provide feedback.
14.As part of the continuing efforts under EMP3, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has established three thematic cross-sectoral workgroups, which include representatives of disability organisations, public agencies and private sector partners. As part of the Workgroups, MSF is organising engagement sessions with stakeholders to co-ideate, co-design and potentially co-implement solutions. The first phase of engagements from September to December 2019 involved 210 stakeholders, including persons with different types of disabilities. Arrangements were put in place to meet participants’ accessibility needs. We will continue this collaborative approach and have collected feedback from the sessions to develop a guide on inclusive public engagement for public agencies.
Training professionals and staff
15.SG Enable, an agency which enables persons with disabilities, runs Consumer Inclusiveness Workshops that trains frontline officers in the public service to serve persons with disabilities. A version of this Workshop is also available for private sector employers. Since 2018, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) conducts mental health awareness training for frontline officers, including those in the police force and at immigration checkpoints.
Implementation of the Incheon Strategy
16.Singapore’s efforts to build an inclusive society and enable persons with disabilities are aligned with the Incheon Strategy. MSF publishes relevant statistics annually through the Social Statistics in Brief publication, in line with Target 8.A and 8.B. For example:
Target 1.B: an average of close to 580 persons with disabilities were placed in employment from 2015-2018;
Target 1.C: an average of 680 persons with disabilities were trained from 2015-2018;
Target 3.C: please refer to Question 21;
Target 3.D: the number of persons with disabilities supported by the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) more than doubled from 790 to 2,037 from 2015 to 2018;
Target 5.A: the number of children supported by the Early Intervention programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) increased from 2,600 to 3,200 from 2015 to 2018;
Target 5.B: in 2016, an estimated 0.1% of each cohort of students were not receiving formal education as they had moderate-to-severe Special Educational Needs (SEN). In 2019, following the extension of the Compulsory Education Act (CEA) to students with moderate-to-severe Special Educational Needs, only about 0.05% of students from the 2012 birth cohort were granted exemption due to complex or severe SEN needs.
Reply to question 3 of the list of issues
17.With respect to Article 25(e), Singapore supports the principle of non-discriminatory treatment towards persons with disabilities and intends to incorporate the principle in guidelines that private insurers have to comply with by March 2021. Singapore will be consulting stakeholders on the guidelines. When the guidelines are finalised, Singapore intends to withdraw the reservation to Article 25(e).
18.While Singapore is maintaining our reservation to Article 29(a)(iii), we are reviewing how we can better support voters with disabilities in elections.
19.Singapore will maintain our reservation to Article 12(4). Our current legislative framework is consistent with the spirit of the Convention and our domestic context. The appointment of donees, under Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) to make decisions about the donor’s welfare and affairs, relies on the social bond between the donor and his chosen donee(s). We have considered that regular reviews of decisions made under an LPA may undermine the assumption of trust and goodwill underscoring this relationship. Instead, we have ensured that the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) contains effective safeguards to protect vulnerable persons by limiting the acts or decisions of donees and court-appointed deputies and by providing powers to the Public Guardian to investigate complaints, as well as whistle-blower protections. The LPA instrument must contain a certificate by a Certificate Issuer (CI) that, in his opinion, the donor understands the purpose and scope of the instrument and no fraud or undue pressure is used to induce the donor to create an LPA. Donees and court-appointed deputies are also equipped to support their principals in decision-making through workshops and guidance by the Office of the Public Guardian.
20.The Optional Protocol will not be ratified at this time. In Singapore, there are existing mechanisms to address individual complaints from persons with disabilities, including legal action in court, and mechanisms within Government agencies, Parliament and media. These mechanisms are kept under continual review to ensure efficacy and compliance with the Convention. There has been no feedback of insufficient complaint channels so far.
Reply to question 4 of the list of issues
21.By virtue of Article 12 of the Constitution of Singapore, any person who is of the view that they are subjected to unequal treatment in legislation and/or executive decisions on the basis of their disability may bring the matter before the courts. Any person with disabilities aggrieved by an allegedly discriminatory law may apply to the courts to seek a judicial review of that particular law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and inconsistent with Article 12 of the Constitution. Singapore has measures in place to ensure persons with disabilities can access these legal remedies.
22.We have additional measures to provide persons with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in society. Singapore’s education system plays a key role in setting the foundation for a national culture of care and inclusivity. Singapore also has measures to prevent discrimination in employment.
Reply to question 5 of the list of issues
23.Women and girls with disabilities enjoy the same rights and recognition under the law as women and girls without disabilities. The Women’s Charter provides a wide range of provisions which protect and advance these rights. Policies and programmes for persons with disabilities in Singapore are gender-neutral and seek to support and empower women and girls with disabilities on an equal basis as men and boys with disabilities.
24.We recognise that women and girls with disabilities can face additional challenges. In this regard, the Women’s Charter accords protection to women and girls who are ill-treated, in need of protection and in moral danger. For example, the Women’s Charter permits the Director-General of Social Welfare to admit such women under the age of 21 years into a place of safety if it is in their best interest. An independent Discharge Committee reviews such cases at least every six months to ensure that they do not remain in the place of safety unnecessarily.
25.Sexuality Education (SEd) in mainstream schools and Special Education (SPED) schools is designed to meet the needs of all students. In SPED schools, staff are trained to design SEd programmes that meet their students’ specific needs, with separate classes for male and female students when appropriate. Students learn about physiological, social and emotional changes during puberty, how to assert and protect themselves and to respect others, and how to make informed and responsible decisions on sexuality matters.
Reply to question 6 of the list of issues
Early Intervention (EI) programmes
26.Singapore has substantially increased our investment in EI since our Initial Report. Between 2018 and July 2019, the Government increased spending on EI services and subsidies by 30% to around S$60 million (US$43.9 million) per year. Children with developmental needs under the age of 7 are supported by a continuum of Government-funded EI programmes.
27.In 2019, MSF enhanced support by offering two new EI programmes. Under the new Development Support Plus (DS-Plus) programme, children with mild-moderate needs who made sufficient progress under the existing EIPIC can transit to receiving intervention in their preschools instead of EIPIC centres, thereby promoting inclusion in preschools. The new EIPIC Under-2s programme enables children under two enrolled in EIPIC to receive more targeted intervention, and equips their family members with skills to continue intervention at home for more sustained outcomes.
28.There are ongoing efforts to help more preschools cater to children with moderate to severe developmental needs. In 2019, MSF set up a cross-sectoral Inclusive Preschool Workgroup to study how to better support children with developmental needs within preschools. The workgroup aims to release their recommendations by early 2021.
Mental health in youth and children
29.The Government takes a multi-pronged approach to address the complex underlying causes of mental health issues. The Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) offer psycho-emotional programmes and peer support in schools. Singapore is on track to have a peer support structure and culture in all schools by 2022. All mainstream schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) have counsellors to provide individualised social and emotional support. MOH also set up Response, Early Intervention, Assessment in Community mental Health (REACH) teams to provide school-based interventions to students with psychological, emotional and behavioural issues. For students with more severe issues, REACH arranges referrals to specialists.
30.Beyond schools, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) set up the Community Health Assessment Team to raise mental health awareness and provide information on mental health assessments and treatment to youths. In 2019, the National Council of Social Services (NCSS) launched the Youth Alliance to promote mental wellness among youth and reduce mental health stigma. In 2020, the Youth Mental Well-being Network was formed with the Government’s support, gathering more than 1,000 individuals, including youths, social sector and mental health professionals, and parents and caregivers to discuss, design and implement initiatives to improve mental well-being in youths.
31.To support children in state care who suffer from mental health conditions caused by trauma, MSF runs various therapeutic interventions that support their reintegration in the community. AIC and NCSS also fund community-based trauma support and care programmes for SSAs.
Freedom of expression of children
32.Singapore proactively seeks children’s views through avenues such as dialogues with political leaders and policymakers in schools, youth forums, and the biennial Singapore Children’s Forum (SCF). In 2019, the SCF focused on issues of inequality, where children shared their views on the topic of inclusion among others. The National Youth Council also organises events in partnership with disability organisations so youths with and without disabilities can share perspectives on disability issues.
33.In SPED schools, students are encouraged and supported to participate in planning their education (e.g. through Individual Education Plans) and their future pathways (through Individual Transition Plans). The curriculum covers skills of communication and social interaction, making choices and decision-making. Students who are less or non-verbal are provided augmentative and alternative communication devices.
Reply to question 7 of the list of issues
34.Singapore takes a whole-of-society approach to inclusivity. At the broad societal level, NCSS runs an annual “See the True Me” public education campaign to nurture positive perceptions of persons with disabilities, and facilitate their social participation. Persons with disabilities and their family members are involved as ambassadors in the campaign and related events. NCSS has also run initiatives to raise awareness about the CRPD and the rights therein among the general public, and persons with disabilities through disability organisations. Singapore also has initiatives in the areas of cultural life, recreation, and sport, and in schools.
35.In the area of mental health awareness, NCSS and IMH launched the “Beyond the Label” public education campaign in 2018 to address stigma and promote greater social inclusion of persons in recovery from mental health conditions. In 2019, NCSS launched Belle, an interactive helpbot to provide 24/7 access to information about helplines and mental health services. NCSS has also conducted Mental Health Public Education grant calls since 2017, and AIC established community outreach teams to carry out public education programmes on mental health conditions and dementia.
36.Singapore promotes inclusive hiring and equips employers to make their workplaces inclusive. Besides trainings, workshops, and consultancy and advisory services, SG Enable worked with Cornell University on a Workplace Disability Inclusive Index. When employers are ready to hire, SG Enable and partner SSAs receive government funding to place and provide job support for persons with disabilities. Where employers have done well, SG Enable’s biennial Enabling Employers Award recognises their commitment and achievements.
Reply to question 8 of the list of issues
Accessibility of the transport system
37.Singapore has continued to upgrade our public transportation system to be accessible to persons with disabilities since our Initial Report. All public bus services are now wheelchair-accessible. There is at least one barrier-free access route at all Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations and bus interchanges. Singapore is also progressively introducing priority use for persons with special needs at public transport nodes.
38.All new public buses since 2018 are installed with a digital Passenger Information Display System, providing visual and audio alerts to inform passengers of the next bus stop. We are trialling a mobile application, “MAVIS”, which gives persons with visual disabilities and wheelchair users personalised journey guidance on buses. Since October 2019, those with invisible medical conditions can choose to get a sticker identifier to alert fellow commuters that they need a seat, without disclosing the individual’s condition. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will also be conducting a trial to designate priority cabins for persons with disabilities among others.
39.All taxi stands constructed after 2008 are barrier-free. Street-hail operators are required to provide sufficient boot space in taxis to cater for wheelchairs. From October 2020, all ride-hail operators will be required to offer commuters an option in the booking app to book a vehicle that can cater for a foldable wheelchair in its boot.
40.Singapore extended the Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) for persons with disabilities in August 2017 to more households, and with a higher level of support of up to 80% subsidy. There are also other schemes to subsidise transport costs for persons with disabilities, such as discounted rates on public transport, subsidies for transport arranged by MSF-funded disability services, and subsidies to support persons with disabilities who require a vehicle to earn a living.
41.To enhance accessibility on the roads, lifts have been installed at 47 pedestrian overhead bridges, and more will be upgraded progressively to provide barrier-free crossings.
42.Transport professionals are trained to assist commuters with special needs. LTA will work with public transport operators (PTOs) to enhance the training of service ambassadors at MRT stations, bus interchanges and integrated transport hubs. PTOs have also taken the initiative to train and upgrade their workers’ competencies, including collaborating with disability organisations.
43.The Public Transport Council regularly consults commuters with special needs to make improvements to the transport system. In 2018, LTA engaged more than 7400 Singaporeans on Singapore’s future land transport system, resulting in the Land Transport Masterplan 2040 that incorporates recommendations for a more inclusive land transport system, especially to meet the needs of seniors, persons with disabilities and families with young children.
Accessibility of the built environment
44.Singapore periodically revises the Code on Accessibility, which sets out essential requirements for making the built environment accessible. The tripartite Code Review Committee includes disability organisations as members.
45.The latest Code on Accessibility in July 2019 included new mandatory requirements that improve the accessibility of toilets and parking lots, among others. As at August 2020, around 150 private building owners have tapped on the Building and Construction Authority (BCA)’s Accessibility Fund to retrofit their buildings with accessibility features.
46.In response to feedback about accessibility challenges in the Central Business District, BCA launched a Community Workgroup in February 2020 comprising representatives from disability organisations, the private sector and public agencies, to study accessibility gaps and come up with solutions.
Reply to question 9 of the list of issues
47.The Singapore Civil Defence Force trains frontline responders to extricate or evacuate persons with disabilities. Fire evacuation drills with homes and hospitals are conducted regularly to familiarise responders and staff with evacuation methods and procedures. Premises classified as Mobility Risk Premises are required to form a Tier 1 Company Emergency Response Team and develop contingency plans.
48.The Fire Code, which applies to most buildings, requires that special attention be paid to evacuate persons with disabilities. It also requires exit routes and fire lifts that are easy to see and accessible for wheelchair users, clearly marked designated holding points on each floor to serve as temporary safe spaces for persons with disabilities to await assistance, and visual alarms in designated locations to alert the deaf and hard of hearing. These requirements were incorporated after consultation with disability organisations.
49.If evacuees are rendered homeless in emergencies, MSF provides them with temporary relief shelter and coordinates re-housing. The temporary shelters will take into account the needs of vulnerable persons wherever possible, such as providing larger areas for those with mobility challenges or who use mobility aids. Guidelines are given to staff on how to work with persons with disabilities.
50.The Government set up an inter-agency Haze Task Force (HTF) to oversee the work of minimising and managing the impact of haze on the public. The action plans and advisories rolled out by HTF agencies for the protection of the health and well-being of the public considers our vulnerable groups, including those with mobility issues and the very sick.
51.Singapore has taken a human-centred approach in its COVID-19 response. We have strengthened our social safety nets over the years, and acted quickly to launch additional help schemes to help lower- and middle-income households affected by the pandemic. We have been in active conversations with key disability stakeholders to identify challenges and address them together. This includes regular check-ins with clients of disability services, assistance for families who face caregiving challenges, food deliveries and cash support to vulnerable individuals and families. At the frontline, we have spread awareness among enforcement officers on the challenges that persons with disabilities may face in complying with safe-distancing measures, and to exercise flexibility if necessary. We have also worked with partners to explore ways to enhance the accessibility of public communications, and have included persons with disabilities in broader national support measures, such as creating a dedicated workstream under the National Jobs Council on the employment of persons with disabilities. During the COVID-19 period, a 24-hour National CARE Hotline was set up to provide emotional and psychological support to anyone facing increased levels of distress, complementing existing phone and online counselling platforms.
Reply to question 10 of the list of issues
52.The MCA strives to preserve a person’s legal capacity through its key principles, including that all practicable steps to help a person make a decision must have been taken, without success, before treating them as unable to make that decision, and that any act done or decision made for or on behalf of a person must be in their best interests. In determining the best interests, the person’s past and present wishes and feelings, so far as are reasonably ascertainable, must be considered. Even where decisions are taken on behalf of a person who lacks capacity by a proxy decision-maker, the proxy decision-maker must, as far as is reasonably practicable, permit and encourage the person to participate, or improve his ability to participate, as fully as possible in any act done for and any decision affecting him. As at end June 2020, there were 2,237 court orders appointing 3,179 deputies under the MCA.
53.Singapore does not intend to remove provisions in the MCA allowing court-appointed deputies to take decisions on behalf of a person who lacks capacity, as this would lead to superficial equality and could critically affect decision-making.
54.Singapore’s criminal procedure laws relating to accused or convicted persons with severe mental health conditions are intended to balance the rights and interests of these persons against the need to protect the public from serious crime. For example, under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), a person who is found to be of unsound mind and incapable of making his defence, and who is accused of a bailable offence, may be released on sufficient security being given. If sufficient security is not given, or the person is accused of committing a non-bailable offence, he may be confined in a psychiatric institution by order of the Minister for Law.
55.There are safeguards against abuse. An accused person who is found to be of unsound mind and incapable of making his defence, and who has been confined in a psychiatric institution, must be visited every six months to ascertain his state of mind, and a report must be sent to the Minister of Law. The person may be discharged by the Minister if assessed to be capable of being discharged without danger of injuring himself or any other person. Persons who consider that they have been wrongly confined in a psychiatric institution under the CPC may bring legal challenges against their confinement, such as by seeking judicial review of the Minister’s confinement orders.
56.The Prisons Act permits the Commissioner to order the transfer of prisoners to a mental hospital or other fit place of safe custody if they are certified “mentally disordered” by a registered medical practitioner. In practice, prison inmates who are assessed to require mental healthcare treatment are usually referred to the prison psychiatrist. Subsequently, if required, they may be housed within the prison’s Psychiatric Housing Unit for more dedicated treatment.
Reply to question 11 of the list of issues
Access to justice and procedural accommodations
57.There are procedural accommodations that facilitate effective access to justice for persons with disabilities at all stages of legal proceedings. The Police are trained to identify suspects and witnesses with mental disabilities and to take steps to reduce the trauma experienced by them throughout investigations. The Police interview these offenders to ascertain their intellectual ability, and speak to family members to find out more about their background, mental and medical conditions.
58.Singapore implemented the Appropriate Adult Scheme (AAS) for persons with mental disabilities nationwide in all law enforcement agencies in 2015. Under the AAS, law enforcement agencies may activate an “Appropriate Adult” to act as a bridge between the investigation officer and a person with suspected mental disability, regardless if the person is a suspect, victim, or witness. During the interview, the Appropriate Adult watches for signs of distress, supports the emotional well-being of the person, and assists in communications.
59.Legal aid is available to persons of limited means through avenues such as government-funded legal aid, and initiatives of the Law Society of Singapore and various SSAs. In assessing applicants for legal aid, special consideration may be given to persons with disabilities if they have additional financial needs. Applicants for civil and criminal legal aid use the facilities at the MinLaw Service Centre (MSC) and the State Courts respectively, both of which have barrier-free access. Two counters at MSC are also equipped with assistive technology for the deaf and hard of hearing.
60.To support access of inmates with disabilities to legal remedies, prison institutions facilitate the provision of assistive devices like walking and hearing aids, as well as access to sign language interpreters engaged by inmates’ counsels or embassies in the case of individuals who are foreign nationals.
61.There are provisions in the CPC such that those who are of unsound mind and incapable of making their defence in court are dealt with fairly, and have access to treatment. Only persons who are fit to plead can be tried in court.
Access to justice system as professionals and witnesses
62.Persons with disabilities can study law at the law schools, be called to the Bar and practise as lawyers just like any other person. All three autonomous universities offering law degrees in Singapore provide disability services to all students, such as academic accommodations, examination arrangements, and access to campus facilities.
Reply to question 12 of the list of issues
Consent in the provision of medical treatment
63.When a doctor carries out treatment on a patient who lacks mental capacity, the provisions under the MCA apply. In the specific case of sterilization of persons with disabilities, the Voluntary Sterilization Act (VSA) applies: a registered medical practitioner may only carry out sexual sterilization on persons if they consent. If the person lacks capacity to consent, sexual sterilization is only permitted with a court order declaring that it is necessary in the best interests of that person. Compelling or inducing a person by coercion or intimidation to undergo treatment for sexual sterilization is an offence under the VSA. Since 2012, there have been no court orders for the sterilisation of persons lacking mental capacity.
64.Detention of patients at the IMH under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act (MHCTA) is only exercised in very limited circumstance where a patient with mental illness is at risk of harm to self or others. There are safeguards to prevent unnecessary involuntary admission of patients. Only designated medical practitioners may recommend an individual for involuntary admission. Detained patients are also to be assessed by other designated medical practitioners for further involuntary admission. Any detention beyond six months requires the psychiatric institution’s principal officer to submit a report to the Visitors, and a Magistrate’s order. The detention of a person in a psychiatric institution not in accordance with the MHCTA is a criminal offence punishable by fine or imprisonment.
Efforts to reduce institutionalisation and support independent living
65.Singapore strongly encourages community-based living for persons with disabilities, and provides government-funded living options like Community Group Homes and Adult Disability Hostels. There are also various subsidies available for transport and assistive technology that support the independence of persons with disabilities, and support for caregivers. Persons with disabilities may voluntarily be admitted to Adult Disability Homes (ADHs) as a last resort. They may also be admitted by their caregivers, if assessed to lack mental capacity, or under a court order for committal to a place of temporary care and protection under the Vulnerable Adults Act (VAA). Since 2019, over 800 clients have voluntarily entered the ADHs, with only 2 court-ordered admissions under the VAA.
66.Singapore has been ramping up community mental health services and strengthening post-discharge care for patients with mental health conditions under the Community Mental Health Masterplan. Mental health services have been set up in more than half of the national polyclinics, while allied health-led community intervention teams have been established to provide psycho-social therapeutic intervention, counselling and psycho-education services to the community. In addition, MOH has provided additional resources to IMH to widen their case management support, so that more IMH patients would be supported post-discharge and transit well back home. These efforts resulted in a reduction of institutionalisation of persons with mental health conditions.
Reply to question 13 of the list of issues
67.Officers of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) are trained to work with vulnerable populations, including persons with disabilities. SPS also provides rehabilitation opportunities for offenders with intellectual disabilities where possible, especially in the area of life skills to enhance day-to-day functioning. All prison inmates are housed in units with ready access to medical personnel. Where necessary, prison doctors will admit inmates into medical wards for closer monitoring. Where possible, prison inmates with physical disabilities are housed at lower landings to avoid stairs. Suitable cellmates may also be selected as helpers to assist inmates with disabilities in their daily activities.
68.Prison inmates are not in the vast majority of cases subjected to involuntary treatment. If a prison inmate is assessed to be a danger to their own safety due to psychiatric reasons, they will be referred to the prison psychiatrist for further assessment so that they can receive the necessary mental health care.
Reply to question 14 of the list of issues
69.Singapore recently amended the Penal Code to ensure criminal laws take a robust approach to prevent and combat exploitation, violence and abuse of persons with disabilities. First, for certain offences committed against vulnerable persons, the court may sentence the offender to enhanced punishments of up to twice the maximum penalties. Second, Sections 304B and 304C criminalise causing the death of a vulnerable person by sustained abuse, and causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable person in the same household. Third, Section 376F criminalises the procurement of sexual activity with a person with mental disability.
70.Under the MHCTA, ill-treatment of patients in psychiatric institutions by medical practitioners, nurses, attendants or any other employee of a psychiatric institution, is a criminal offence. The Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), enacted in 2014, provides enhanced penalties for offences of harassment and unlawful stalking against vulnerable persons.
71.To ensure accessible and prompt assistance, care and recovery services for victims of family violence, the National Family Violence Networking System links government agencies, police, schools, hospitals and SSAs to provide multiple touchpoints for those affected. Singapore has also intensified public education on abuse and strengthened help channels for victims through the “Break the Silence | Against Family Violence” campaign.
72.Judges and judicial officers in the Supreme Court, State Courts and Family Justice Courts undergo training in judgecraft and bench skills conducted by the Singapore Judicial College (SJC). The SJC’s core curriculum features training on how to effectively engage litigants-in-person with personality disorders. The Supreme Court and State Courts also conduct regular training for Judicial Officers and Court Administrators, including legal developments and topics such as managing persons with mental health issues. The Family Justice Courts provide regular training for its Judicial Officers and staff in managing vulnerable court users including those with disabilities.
73.The Child Protective Service (CPS) uses a Structured Decision Making system to identify and take into account a child’s developmental and disability needs when developing a holistic intervention plan. CPS works with community service providers with expertise in supporting children with disabilities, and consults experts such as psychologists to ensure that CPS’ intervention is suited to the needs of the child.
74.Details on Singapore’s laws on the admission of patients into psychiatric institutions is described in paragraph 64 under Question 12.
Reply to question 15 of the list of issues
75.Singapore’s laws addressing the protection of both women and girls, and persons with disabilities, from violence, exploitation and abuse are sufficiently extensive to provide protection to women and girls with disabilities. Perpetrators of violence against women may be charged generally under the Penal Code and the Women’s Charter. The Women’s Charter was amended in February 2016 to enhance protection for victims of family violence and professionals engaged in protection work, as well as strengthen law enforcement against online vice. POHA was amended in 2019 to strengthen the range of self-help measures, civil remedies and criminal sanctions to better protect women from harassment and related anti-social behaviour. Women and girls who are vulnerable due to a physical or mental disability are further protected under the VAA, which was introduced in 2018.
Reply to question 16 of the list of issues
Vulnerable Adults Act
76.The VAA seeks to safeguard vulnerable adults (VA) from abuse, neglect or self-neglect. The VAA allows VAs themselves, their family members, or government social services, to apply for court orders for their protection, where they have experienced, are experiencing, or are at risk of abuse, neglect or self-neglect. These include orders restraining perpetrators of abuse from further abusing a VA, and orders prohibiting perpetrators from communicating with or visiting a VA.
77.The VAA sets out safeguards in the form of key principles that must be considered when an application is made for protective orders in relation to a VA who lacks mental capacity.
Adult Disability Homes and Hostels
78.The Government maintains oversight of service standards in Adult Disability Homes and Hostels. The Standards of Care for the Homes and Hostels sets out guidelines on residents’ well-being and their protection against abuse, including respect for residents’ privacy and dignity at all times, and robust procedures to prevent and recognise resident abuse, such as raising awareness among residents and staff on this topic and whistle-blower protection.
79.The Homes’ independent Board of Visitors (BOV) provides third-party oversight of residents by monitoring residents’ well-being and living conditions through visits, and being an additional avenue for residents to raise concerns. The BOV observes a Code of Conduct and includes members who are medically trained and/or of high professional standing.
80.MSF is providing additional support to the Homes and Hostels in light of COVID-19. This includes funding for additional manpower to implement safe management measures, swab tests for residents and staff, support to continue services during the “Circuit Breaker” period, and to provide limited services in community-based settings for clients with higher needs and for caregivers’ respite.
Reply to question 17 of the list of issues
81.Please refer to Question 12.
Reply to question 18 of the list of issues
82.When a person of foreign nationality seeks employment in Singapore, they are not required to declare any disability in their application for employment passes or permits. There are no legal or administrative hurdles preventing a person from entering or leaving Singapore solely on the basis of disability. All foreign and local employees working under a contract of service are covered by the Employment Act or the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). Foreign workers with disabilities have equal rights as others under the EFMA to obtain, possess and use identification documents, and to use immigration facilities to exercise their right to liberty of movement. These facilities comply with the Code on Accessibility, are barrier-free and have directions in Braille.
Reply to question 19 of the list of issues
83.Please refer to Question 12 paragraphs 65-66 (de-institutionalisation), Question 20 paragraphs 84-86 (support for independent living), Question 1 paragraph 11 (persons affected by leprosy), and Question 21 paragraphs 89-91 (access to information).
Reply to question 20 of the list of issues
84.There are subsidies, financial schemes and projects to facilitate the development and use of assistive technology. For those unable to afford assistive devices, the ATF subsidises up to 90% of the cost of such devices that support independent living. The specific device is not prescribed by the Fund but by the qualified medical professional assessing the individual’s accessibility needs. Singapore has doubled the amount of subsidies to each person over his lifetime from S$20,000 (US$14,535) to S$40,000 (US$28,571). The Senior Mobility and Enabling Fund provides up to 90% of means-tested subsidies for assistive technology, home healthcare items and transport, to help seniors above the age of 60 remain mobile and live independently.
85.MOE’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Fund also funds suitable computing devices, related services and digital resources in SPED schools. MOE provides assistive technology devices in mainstream schools, and funds purchases of education-related assistive technology devices and support services at the tertiary level. Singapore’s autonomous universities provide similar or higher levels of financial support for their students in this regard.
86.There are multiple touchpoints to allow persons to learn about assistive devices and relevant financial assistance. Tech Able, an MSF-funded facility providing information and resources on assistive devices and ICT to persons with disabilities, also provides consultation, assessment and training services.
87.In 2019, MSF announced the formation of a cross-sectoral EMP workgroup to study how to promote independent living through design and technology. The Workgroup is conducting consultations with stakeholders and aims to release its recommendations by early 2021.
88.Subsidiary regulations under the Environmental Public Health Act, the Rapid Transit Systems Act and the Road Traffic Act allow guide dogs that are trained to aid persons with visual impairment to be brought into food establishments and on public transport respectively. The Government is currently reviewing these provisions in consultation with the disability organisation, Guide Dog Singapore, to see how to better support persons with disabilities.
Reply to question 21 of the list of issues
89.Singapore adopts a multi-platform, multi-language and multi-format approach to ensure that government communications are effectively disseminated to different segments of society, including persons with disabilities. Official information is pushed out through multiple online and offline platforms, and presented in various formats and in different languages. Government agencies are also required to implement the Digital Service Standards for designing government digital services.
90.To support persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, Singapore adopts subtitling and captioning for non-live programmes, and live signing for key Government communications, including COVID-19 communications, on Free-to-Air television. The Government also publishes content on digital and social media platforms using infographics and auto-captioning functions.
91.Singapore is helping persons with disabilities acquire the skills to access the digital world, including through curriculum and courseware on basic digital skills for the elderly and students with disabilities, and the setting up of Infocomm and Assistive Technologies loan libraries and curated workshops. Going forward, students in mainstream schools and SPED schools will benefit from the National Digital Literacy Programme initiative, which will expose them to new technologies and provide lessons on cyber wellness.
Reply to question 22 of the list of issues
Consent to marriage
92.An individual who is unable to provide free and informed consent in matters related to marriage is protected under section 26 of the MCA, under which a proxy decision-maker is prevented from consenting to marriage on the individual’s behalf.
Separation of children from parents
93.Children are never removed from their parents on the basis of their disability or their parents’ disability alone. Children are only removed from their parents when they have been abused or neglected and it is no longer safe for them to remain with their parents, with the child’s welfare as the paramount consideration. As far as possible, we help all children remain with their families while providing them community support.
Support for parents
94.Singapore has a wide range of schemes to support families such that every child has a good start, regardless of whether the children or their parents have disabilities. This includes financial support for all new-born citizen children, statutory leave for parents, and support for flexible working arrangements. Additional support is available for low-income families through financial assistance in schools, and the KidSTART programme, which provides children from low-income families with early support for health, learning and development, and helps parents keep track of their children’s progress during their early years.
95.EI programmes provide additional support to parents of children with disabilities through parent and caregiver training, so that intervention strategies can continue in the child’s daily routines within the home.
96.MSF and SG Enable also launched the Caregivers Pod in 2018, a space where caregivers can find peer support, attend training sessions, organise sharing sessions, and access caregiving resources.
Reply to question 23 of the list of issues
97.Singapore is committed to providing an inclusive education for all children and youth, including those with disabilities and special needs. Singapore has extended the CEA to children with moderate to severe special needs, such that it is compulsory for all children with disabilities to receive at least a primary-level education, unless an exemption is granted.
98.Singapore’s inclusive education policy supports the education of children with disabilities and other developmental and learning needs (collectively referred to as SEN). Among school-going children, about 80% of students with SEN are enrolled in mainstream schools, and have access to the same provisions as their peers. Students with SEN who would benefit from more intensive and specialised assistance, and a customised curriculum, are enrolled in SPED schools. Parents are advised by medical and allied health professionals who have observed or worked with the child to consider the most educationally appropriate setting that best meets the educational needs of their child. To facilitate meaningful interaction opportunities between SPED and mainstream students, joint activities are organised through satellite partnerships between SPED schools and mainstream schools.
99.Students with SEN in mainstream schools benefit from specialised manpower, such as Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) (AE(LBS)) and Educational Psychologists, and intervention programmes and support services. Mainstream schools take a coordinated approach to support SEN with structures such as Case Management Teams, and schools are provided the Support for Special Needs Grant. Students in SPED schools benefit from specially trained teachers, a customised curriculum and pedagogy, and receive a wide range of support from allied professionals. SPED teachers attend a specialised pre-service training, the Diploma in Special Education, and can attend customised in-service courses by training institutions.
100.In higher education, every IHL has a SEN Support Office providing support and funding from pre-enrolment to graduation, in collaboration with the relevant academic department. IHLs also work with SSAs to run programmes that prepare students for the workforce.
101.In support of the inclusive education policy, Singapore ensures that school personnel are well-trained to support students with SEN. This includes training on SEN and support strategies for all mainstream teachers; on teaching students about inclusion and non-discrimination for all teachers; on managing bullying and youth sexuality for school counsellors; on building an inclusive campus culture for IHL staff and students; and additional training for AE(LBS) for deeper expertise in SEN support.
102.Singapore ensures that no child is denied access to education. Education in Singapore is heavily subsidised in mainstream schools and SPED schools. Children from low-income families, including those with disabilities, are supported via a broad range of financial schemes to ensure they can access quality education in an appropriate setting.
Reply to question 24 of the list of issues
Accessibility of medical services and information
103.All government healthcare facilities have service ambassadors or volunteer guides who are trained to proactively assist patients, such as in navigating facilities. Additional assistance a patient requires would be identified during registration and consultation, and documented in clinical notes to ensure they receive support at service touchpoints.
104.All polyclinics are barrier-free and designed with accessibility features like wheelchair ramps, spacious toilets, widened doorways, grab rails along staircases and lifts, Braille lift buttons, visual stickers, sufficient lighting, non-slippery flooring and tactile tiles for users of walking sticks, and priority seats for persons with additional needs. Dental services in polyclinics are also equipped with wheelchair “tilters”. Polyclinics may use pictorial aids and labels to explain medication instructions to patients and/or caregivers. Patient information leaflets and other educational material on health are given to patients, including those with disabilities as necessary.
Training for medical staff
105.Medical staff are sensitised to the rights of persons with disabilities. In hospitals, staff receive training to render assistance where possible and needed. Hospitals may also utilise services of sign language translators, or use writing or pictorial aids as needed when engaging the deaf and hard of hearing, or persons with speech impairment. Caregivers or spokespersons will be involved where possible.
106.MOH provides all General Practitioners (GPs) with a Disability Resource List so that they may refer patients with disabilities to suitable disability schemes and services. GPs are also provided referral protocols for children with developmental concerns. MOH is also working on a refresher course for GPs on Childhood Developmental Screening in 2020 to support case-finding of children at risk of developmental delays, and timely referral of the children for specialist assessment and early intervention. MOH has granted scholarships for Special Needs Dentistry to increase the number of trained professionals.
107.To deliver customised medical services to persons with intellectual disabilities, a disability organisation, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, received government funding to open the Developmental Disabilities Medical Clinic in 2017, offering free specialised primary care and preventative health services to persons with intellectual disabilities.
Reply to question 25 of the list of issues
108.Disability support mentioned in this document applies to persons with acquired disabilities as well as persons with congenital disabilities. Singapore has also instituted additional measures to promote the rehabilitation of persons with acquired disabilities, such as in the areas of health, employment, education and social services.
Reply to question 26 of the list of issues
Preventing workplace discrimination
109.Singapore takes a serious view of workplace discrimination. While there is no legislation in Singapore to specifically address workplace discrimination, the principle of equality is enshrined in the Constitution and is widely applied in the field of employment.
110.Singapore addresses workplace discrimination through a two-pronged strategy of education and enforcement. To guide employers, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) developed a set of Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP), supported by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation. The TGFEP sets out fair employment practices to prevent discrimination at the workplace, which covers areas such as recruitment, performance appraisal and promotion. TAFEP works closely with MOM to investigate workplace discrimination and ensures that employers who are found in breach of the TGFEP are duly penalised.
111.Penalties for unfair practices were enhanced in 2020 to include debarment of work pass renewals and applications by the errant employer for at least 12 months, and legal prosecution of employers and key personnel who make false declarations that they have considered all candidates fairly. MOM also proactively identifies employers with indications of discriminatory hiring practices and places them on a watchlist for closer scrutiny.
112.According to MOM’s Comprehensive Labour Force Survey in 2018, the resident employment rate was 28.6% among persons with disabilities in the working ages of 15 to 64. Another 4.2% of persons with disabilities in this age range were without a job and actively looking for one, translating to a resident unemployment rate of 12.9%. The resident employment rates for persons with disabilities were 27.6% for those aged 15 to 39; 37.8% for those aged between 40 to 49; 26.1% for those aged between 50 to 64; and 5.9% for those aged 65 and above. The sectors employing the most resident persons with disabilities were community, social and personal services, food services, administrative and support services and manufacturing, which together accounted for more than half of employment among persons with disabilities.
113.To encourage employers to hire and retain persons with disabilities, the Special Employment Credit (SEC) provides wage offsets to employers hiring persons with disabilities earning below S$4,000 (US$2,952) a month. In 2019, more than 5,900 employers hiring over 9,000 Singaporeans with disabilities benefited from the SEC. The Enabling Employment Credit (EEC) will replace the SEC in December 2020. Under the EEC, employers hiring persons with disabilities who have not been employed for at least 6 months will receive an additional wage offset of up to 10%, for a period of 6 months. The President’s Challenge 2020 was also recently launched with the theme of empowering persons with disabilities, with 110 employers, including the public service, pledging to build a more inclusive workforce.
114.Employers and persons with disabilities can tap on employment support services and programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative. This includes the Open Door Programme (ODP), the ODP Training Grant, and the ODP Job Redesign Grant. To address the concerns of employers and persons with disabilities about job fit and the suitability of the work environment, the Career Trial provides an opportunity for jobseekers and employers to mutually assess job fit through a trial, during which jobseekers receive a training allowance of up to $15 (US$10.90) per hour from the Government.
115.MOM and SG Enable launched the Job Redesign Guide for Inclusive Employers in 2019, which provides step-by-step information for companies on redesigning jobs to suit workers with disabilities. SG Enable runs disability management workshops and a biennial Inclusive Business Forum to equip employers with knowledge and skills on how to recruit persons with disabilities and integrate them into the workforce. SG Enable also helps persons with disabilities to look for employment through the Job Placement and Job Support Programme, and the Hospital-to-Work programme for persons with acquired disabilities.
116.Jobseekers with mental health conditions can receive specialised job support services from the Job Club under the IMH, provided by a multi-disciplinary team, or through community providers. To empower persons in recovery to share their experience and provide support to other persons with mental health conditions, the IMH and NCSS run a programme that trains and employs them as Peer Support Specialists.
117.Inclusive employment requires collaboration amongst the public, private and people sectors. In 2019, MSF announced the formation of a cross-sectoral workgroup to look at preparing persons with disabilities for the future economy by enhancing access to lifelong learning opportunities and employment pathways. The workgroup is conducting consultations and aims to release its recommendations by early 2021.
118.The Singapore Public Service facilitates the employment of persons with disabilities by working with SG Enable via the Public Service Career Placement programme. As of December 2019, approximately 350 persons with disabilities were employed in the Public Service, ranging from policy roles to operational and administrative positions. In addition to direct employment of persons with disabilities, public agencies also have contracts with disability organisations to engage persons with disabilities in work such as digitising documents, data entry, payroll and claims processing.
Reply to question 27 of the list of issues
Access to social protection and support services
119.An extensive range of financial support and subsidies is available to persons with disabilities across different life stages. Disability services are means-tested to ensure low-income families receive more subsidies. Depending on their financial circumstances, they may also qualify for national-level financial assistance schemes such as ComCare Long-Term Assistance, Short-to-Medium Term Assistance and Student Care Subsidies. SG Enable also administers several support schemes.
120.At the preschool stage, all government-funded centres offering EIPIC have schemes to help families subsidise EIPIC fees. Parents with children enrolled in selected private intervention centres can tap on assistance through the Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers scheme. Financial assistance is also available at the school level.
121.After graduation, persons with disabilities who are unable to work can enrol in government-funded services such as Day Activity Centres (DAC) and Sheltered Workshops. Caregivers can tap on the Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession and the Foreign Domestic Worker Grant for persons with disabilities to defray the cost of employing a foreign domestic worker to look after family members with disabilities. Working caregivers to persons with disabilities may also qualify for tax reliefs. Respite care services are provided by all ten ADHs and three Children Disability Homes, to support families of persons with disabilities who may need short-term care assistance.
122.Lower-wage Singaporean workers with disabilities automatically benefit from two Workfare schemes to increase their wages, improve retirement adequacy and enhance their skills. The Workfare Income Supplement scheme tops up the salaries and Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings of lower-wage workers, including those with disabilities. The Workfare Skills Support provides monetary awards, absentee payroll funding and training allowances to encourage lower-wage workers with disabilities to upgrade their skills. Lower-wage Singaporeans with disabilities can also tap on employment support services and programmes.
Access to public housing
123.Persons with disabilities have equal access to public housing programmes as individuals without disabilities. There are also programmes and schemes to support the independent living of persons with disabilities in the community.
Reply to question 28 of the list of issues
124.The well-being of migrant workers in Singapore is safeguarded by a comprehensive legal framework. Should a migrant worker acquire a disability in the course of his/her employment, the worker is entitled to compensation under the Work Injury Compensation Act. Singapore will not ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families at this time.
Reply to question 29 of the list of issues
Participation in the conduct of public affairs
125.Persons with disabilities have made significant contributions to parliamentary and political debates in Singapore. For example, the Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) scheme has encouraged the participation of persons with disabilities in the legislative arena, enabling them to represent the views of their community and make contributions to public policy. NMPs, who are appointed by the President for a term of two and a half years, may raise questions, suggest legislation and vote on most matters presented in Parliament, with certain exceptions. Between 2014 and 2020, two persons with disabilities served as NMPs. Persons with disabilities have the same rights as other citizens to form social organisations and join political parties, and have also been nominated to run for political office.
126.In Singapore, persons with disabilities are eligible to vote on an equal basis as persons without disabilities. Singapore adopts a number of measures to facilitate the voting process for voters with disabilities. There are accessible drop-off points at polling stations. Polling areas are barrier-free, and wheelchairs are provided for voters who need them. Within the polling area, priority is given to elderly voters and voters with disabilities. Voters who are visually impaired are provided stencils to mark the ballot paper without assistance, should they wish to do so. Alternatively, a person with a physical or visual disability can request an election official to mark his/her ballot paper in the manner directed by the voter. The election official is under oath to keep the vote secret.
127.New accessibility initiatives are regularly introduced, taking into account feedback from the public. Since 2015, ballot papers have contained photographs to assist with candidate recognition, and have been redesigned with better contrast for those with visual impairment. During the 2020 General Election, portable lap voting booths were provided to wheelchair users to enable them to mark their ballot papers independently in private. Funnels were installed on ballot boxes to make it easier to slot ballot papers into the boxes, and voting pens were replaced with stamp-pens which made it easier to mark ballot papers.
128.Election officials at polling stations are trained to provide assistance and to explain voting procedures to voters, including voters with disabilities. The Elections Department keeps voters with special needs informed about accessibility measures via various platforms.
Reply to question 30 of the list of issues
129.Singapore is committed to creating spaces and opportunities for persons with disabilities of all ages to participate in social and recreational activities, and to engage in meaningful interactions with other members of society from a young age. 17 inclusive playgrounds across Singapore, and initiatives like NCSS’ ‘Children In Action’ programme, facilitate inclusive play between children with and without disabilities. Over the past year, over 1,000 children took part in inclusive play activities, and 78% of surveyed participants without disabilities indicated increased awareness of persons with disabilities. Libraries and their programmes have also become increasingly inclusive.
130.In schools, Physical Education (PE) lessons are adapted as necessary so that students with disabilities can participate in PE with others. MOE will continue to train more PE teachers in Inclusive PE. SPED schools have PE teachers who are trained in Adapted PE. Inclusive sports events also promote awareness and inclusivity among students.
131.Under the Disability Sports Master Plan, launched in 2016, sports have become increasingly accessible across the nation, with once-a-week sports participation rates among persons with disabilities increasing from 28% in 2015 to 51% in 2018. Sports infrastructure is more inclusive, with the aim for all ActiveSG gyms in Singapore to be inclusive by 2026. Sport Singapore runs programmes to encourage the participation of persons with disabilities in sports, and there have been initiatives to build capabilities and enhance disability awareness amongst sports personnel, volunteers and caregivers to better support persons with disabilities in sports. Launched in 2017, the 2019 Inclusive Sports Festival had about 25,000 participants with and without disabilities, and 30 different activities and workshops. Since 2017, parasports have been introduced in the Singapore National Games. The 2019 Singapore National Games featured teams comprising individuals with and without disabilities.
132.In the arts and cultural arena, under the National Heritage Board (NHB)’s “Our SG Heritage Plan” goal for more inclusive and accessible museums, several national museums and heritage institutions now have large-print format guides, sensory maps and access-friendly entry points. Following extensive engagements with persons with disabilities and other stakeholders, the National Museum of Singapore launched initiatives to support persons with sensory sensitivities. Heritage institutions are engaging partners such as hospitals and the Geriatric Education & Research Institute to study the effects of museum-related reminiscing activity on seniors diagnosed with mild dementia. NHB also supported the formation of an Accessibility Community of Practice, launched in 2019, to promote the exchange of best practices on accessibility for museums. The National Arts Council co-organises a biennial Arts and Disability Forum with a disability organisation to facilitate knowledge-sharing and discussions on innovation in artistic practice, inclusive community engagement and multi-sectorial partnerships to advance inclusivity in the arts. Cultural institutions also have inclusive venues and programmes.
Reply to question 31 of the list of issues
133.MSF works with service providers and SG Enable to maintain a database of persons with disabilities who are users of MSF-funded disability services. The system captures data disaggregated by age, sex, disability, geographic location, and any other information relevant to the users’ participation in the disability service. The Public Service Governance Act 2018 permits MSF to exchange data with other public agencies to improve disability services and policy outcomes, with the necessary data protections in place.
134.The Government monitors the number and progress of children with developmental needs in EI programmes, and students with disabilities through their years in the education system. MSF is establishing a set of standardised guidelines to identify and monitor the progress of children of preschool ages with developmental needs across the various EI programmes. The Government has also developed a preliminary map of the employment pathways taken by SPED students after graduation, and is working on a more comprehensive picture of their post-schooling outcomes.
135.The Government has provided public data on the prevalence rate of persons with disabilities disaggregated by population group and type of disability. To better support persons with disabilities, MSF worked with the Department of Statistics to include questions related to disability in the Census 2020, based on the Washington Group’s Short Set of Questions on Disability. MSF is also developing a system to capture data concerning persons with disabilities, beyond users of MSF-funded disability services.
Reply to question 32 of the list of issues
136.Singapore supports the participation of persons with disabilities on the international stage. More than 130,000 government officials from over 170 countries have participated in the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), Singapore’s flagship technical assistance programme, including persons with disabilities or special needs, for which special arrangements were made to ensure their full participation in the programmes. We run an annual SCP course on “Empowering Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs” since 2018, and also include such information in other courses.
137.Singapore is active in promoting awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities at international platforms. Singapore serves as Vice-President of the 12th and 13th Conferences of States Parties (COSP) to the CRPD, and has organised and/or supported disability-related side events at the COSP as well as at the Human Rights Council (HRC). Singapore also regularly engages in HRC debates on issues related to the rights of persons with disabilities. In August 2020, Singapore co-hosted the virtual UN Global Forum on the COVID-19 crisis and persons with disabilities.
Reply to question 33 of the list of issues
138.In 2017, to drive Singapore’s efforts to fulfil the EMP3, three work streams on ‘maximising potential and opportunities’, ‘enhancing support for families’, and ‘inclusive homes and environment’ were identified by the Standing Committee on Disability (SCD). This resulted in the three cross-sectoral workgroups under the EMP3.
Reply to question 34 of the list of issues
139.Singapore welcomes independent feedback to improve support for persons with disabilities in Singapore, and regularly engages representatives of disability organisations and SSAs. We have various monitoring mechanisms in place, which have worked well. In addition to the SCD, and an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Human Rights, the IMC on the CRPD monitors and coordinates the implementation of cross-cutting disability policies, such as how to best address the needs of persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we will continue to review these mechanisms within the context of Singapore’s national circumstances, we do not see a need to establish the institution envisaged in the Paris Principles to be able to implement our obligations under the Convention.