As Singapore enters a new phase of its Covid-19 era, and as the Singapore government is putting together its “After-Action Review” of lessons learned during the previous phases of the pandemic, the Disabled People’s Association (DPA) Singapore would like to make the following statement.
It is essential to recap issues that the disability community faced during the various phases of the pandemic in Singapore and heed the lessons about how Singapore can do better moving forward.
Firstly, the pandemic has highlighted the need for improvement in current and future times of emergency response protocols to be inclusive of the realities of persons with disabilities. Initial designs and layouts of safe entry checkpoints were not designed with accessibility in mind, and initial reports showed that disability sensitivity during important measures such as at testing facilities could have been improved. While the opening and closing of entrances to public facilities were important, the implementation of and communications about such measures were not always inclusive of accessibility concerns – posing additional accessibility barriers for persons with disabilities. Such takeaways need not have to wait for the next public health emergency to begin standardisation across Singapore, but may be enhanced for other periods of disruption such as during construction projects or fire-drill evacuation procedures.
Additionally, over the last few years, accessibility accommodations long advocated by disabled people and have been mainstreamed. As we have previously commented, flexible work arrangements (FWAs), digital and in-person hybrid options for events and meetings and other such adaptations in the workplace not only benefit persons with disabilities but other demographics as well, and must not fade as Singapore recovers from the pandemic.
Moreover, the various phases of the pandemic have led to Singapore needing to chart new ways forward on a macro perspective in terms of Singapore’s economy and infrastructure, and such opportunities presents untapped opportunities for disability inclusion.
As many persons with disabilities also tend to be in higher-risk and medically vulnerable categories, it is our hope that such lessons and others noted in DPA’s 2022 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Parallel Report 2022, along with a continued vigilance in light of potential new variants or outbreaks, will be taken to heart and included in the After-Action Review as Singapore rolls back various measures.
As we have done, DPA will continue to work with existing partners, while also welcoming any new collaborations with individuals and groups from the public and private sectors towards such outcomes and objectives as Singapore returns to DORSCON Green.