Hearing impairment worsens many of the challenges of everyday life, including for the deaf in Singapore. There are currently around 500,000 hearing impaired and deaf people within Singapore. This accounts for about 8.4% of the total population of 5.95 million people as of September 13, 2022.
The Singapore Association for the Deaf is a nonprofit that provides essential services to the hearing impaired. This nonprofit’s vision is “to be the leading (organization) in advocating equal opportunity, in all aspects, for the Deaf and Hard of hearing and supporting them to reach their full potential.” This organization originated in 1955 and provides support in many different forms. This support ultimately allows the deaf in Singapore to reach a comfortable level of success.
The Mayflower Primary School provides general education to hearing-impaired children. Two separate teachers who create lesson plans specially tailored to the deaf (one teacher is provided by the Singapore Association for the Deaf) lead each classroom. The lessons include the use of Singapore Sign Language to properly teach core subjects to the hearing impaired.
Upon graduation from Mayflower, students can transfer to Beatty Secondary School. This school provides similar services to Mayflower in terms of teaching the hearing impaired. Additionally, this school provides emotional support as well as aid with assistive devices to their students. Trained staff are provided to this school through the Singapore Association for the Deaf.
The Mountbatten Vocational School provides specific professional training to the deaf in Singapore. This school allows its students to obtain ITE certification (Institute for Technical Education) through a comprehensive two-year program. The program includes “electrical wiring,” “plumbing,” “residential air conditioning” and other forms of training.
Support Services for Students
Deaf students in Singapore are aided with adjustment into public schools through the Itinerant Support Service. Both the students and their families have involvement in this process to best accommodate the needs of the hearing impaired.
Social workers help the deaf and their families address issues such as “information and referral, case management, counseling, financial assistance and also make school visits.” Educational support is also provided to enhance skills related to core topics and in turn aid integration into public schools. Another form of support that aids with integration into public schools is speech therapy, where deaf students develop “listening and articulation skills.”
Services for the Deaf
The Singapore Association for the Deaf provides a variety of services to the hearing impaired in Singapore. The services are on the organization’s website.
- “Information services” – information for clients as a guide for how to use community resources.
- “Counseling”- emotional support for the deaf in Singapore.
- “Financial Assistance”- aid with applications to national financial assistance programs. These include the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) and the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF).
- “Employment”- aiding the hearing impaired with finding deaf-friendly employers.
- “Volunteer Activities”- the organization cooperates with Voluntary Welfare organizations to provide the necessary support to the deaf in Singapore and “empower” them through various activities. This includes the “Social Group of the Deaf” which encourages physical exercise and healthy lifestyle choices for the hearing impaired.
Sign Language Coursework
Singapore Sign Language is a hybrid form of sign language that combines aspects of Shanghainese Sign Language, American Sign Language and other lesser-known forms of sign language. The Singapore Association for the Deaf provides coursework that occurs online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hearing care center provides health care services related to hearing and the devices used to aid the hearing impaired. Every registered client at the Singapore Association for the Deaf has entitlement to one free hearing test per year. The organization also offers ear impressions/molds to provide clients with the proper assistive devices for their bodies.
The organization also provides free hearing aids to members of the organization. Additionally, the organization sells batteries and additional accessories for hearing aids. All of the aforementioned services are essential for the hearing impaired to live with relative normality among their peers.
Other Medical Assistance
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prominence of telehealth services rose significantly. This was especially true in Singapore as the government distributed Ministry of Health phone numbers to access assistance and information about COVID-19. This proved unsatisfactory for the deaf in Singapore due to them being unable to talk over the telephone.
After some complaints, the Ministry of Health announced a partnership with the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Singapore Association for the Deaf to create a more convenient solution. The organizations proceeded to create an SMS and email service as well as services for sign language interpretation. The programs allow the deaf in Singapore to receive accurate information about COVID-19 and respond accordingly.
The Singapore Association for the Deaf provides necessary aid and subsequently enables the hearing impaired through their various programs. This organization sets a strong precedent for other hearing-impaired organizations to follow.
– Max Cole
Photo: Wikipedia Commons