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Sensory Disability

The two main types of sensory disability are visual impairment and deafness/hard of hearing. People with such disabilities have either partial or complete loss of sight or hearing.

Key points

  • Persons with sensory disabilities – partial or full loss of hearing or vision – can benefit from therapy and intervention.
  • It is important for those with sensory disabilities to hone compensatory skills such as sign language, Braille and other sensory efficiency skill.
  • Those who require child or adult care services may consider inclusive preschools, special student care centres, or centre-based, residential, and home care services.
  • Children with sensory disabilities can enrol in either SPED schools or mainstream schools, depending on their individual needs.
  • Adults with sensory disabilities can participate in programmes to prepare them for working life.
  • There are training and skills-upgrading programmes to help those with disabilities to secure jobs.

Here you will find information on the social support available for persons with sensory disabilities, resources and stories of people going through the same journey.

 

Therapy and Intervention

Actions to take

  • Explore Singapore Sign Language as a mode of communication for the deaf.
  • Those with residual hearing can explore Natural Auditory Oral and Auditory Verbal Therapy.
  • Those with visual impairment can refer to the “Expanded Core Curriculum” for more information regarding necessary knowledge and skills needed for learning and independent living.


Rehabilitation and therapy can help persons with sensory disabilities manage their conditions with confidence. Treatment goals vary between individuals.


Deafness/Hard of Hearing

Just as typical individuals use spoken language to communicate their ideas, feelings and thoughts, deaf people use sign language for the same purposes.

Sign language is a visual-manual mode of communication with its own grammar and linguistic structure. Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) is Singapore’s native sign language.

Not all persons with hearing loss use sign language to communicate. Some also use speech and listening. Others who have residual hearing use other communication approaches such as Natural Auditory Oral (NAO) and Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT). For more information, click on the link below:


Vision loss/blindness

Individuals with visual impairment require multi-faceted care. This includes specialist medical care, special education programmes and specific support services. For children with visual impairment, support programmes should be geared towards both education and rehabilitation, while those for adults can be geared mainly towards rehabilitation.

To maximise their learning potential, it is recommended that children with visual impairment develop compensatory skills in addition to their normal developmental skills. The term “expanded core curriculum” was developed to describe a set of knowledge and skills needed by students with visual impairments that would enhance their academic learning as well as their independence later in life.

These skills include:

  • Compensatory academic skills, including the use of Braille
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Social interaction skills
  • Recreation and leisure skills
  • Visual/sensory efficiency skills

For more information:

Services and programmes

Actions to take

  • Look into early intervention programmes and therapy offered by schools or private centres to support your child’s development.


Early Intervention Programme For Infants and Children (EIPIC) is likely the most known programme for children with special needs. Activities at EIPIC centres aim to maximise the child’s developmental growth potential, while minimising the development of secondary disabilities. Click here for a list of EIPIC centres catering to children with sensory disabilities.

If your child is not in a programme or school where therapy is already provided, he can still attend ad-hoc therapy sessions offered by other SSAs or private intervention centres. Adults with acquired disabilities can also consider therapy services to overcome challenges they face in independent living, working and socialising. More information is available here.


Other useful information:

 

Child and adult care

Actions to take

  • If you need child or adult care services, consider day care, residential, or home-based care options which can cater to your caregiving needs.


Day care, residential programmes and other care services are available to support persons with sensory disabilities. The type of service needed depends on the person’s needs and the level of support that the caregiver can provide.

Services and programmes

Caregivers looking for childcare and before- or after-school care may consider services such as the Integrated Child Care Programme (ICCP) for pre-schoolers aged two to six, or Special Student Care Centres (SSCCs) for students aged seven to 18. ICCP providers can accomodate children with sensory disabilities, but only those with prescribed hearing aids or corrective lenses.

More information can be found here.

For adults, getting a job is a step towards financial security and participation in society. Other options include Day Activity Centres (DACs).

Other useful information:

 

Education

Actions to take

  • Consider enrolling your preschooler into an inclusive or integrated preschool.
  • Find out more information and consider the different factors before enrolling your child into either SPED school or mainstream school.
  • Explore SPED schools for those with specifically for sensory disabilities – Canossian School (for those with deafness/ hard of hearing); Lighthouse School (for those with deafness/ hard of hearing and visual impairment).


Children and youths with special needs have various choices of education pathways, depending on their individual needs and abilities.

Apart from early intervention programmes, pre-schoolers may enrol in inclusive or integrated pre-schools. Education is compulsory up to age fifthteen in Singapore, so children from age seven will need to enrol in either Special Education (SPED) schools or mainstream primary schools.

Currently, there are two SPED schools dedicated to children with sensory disabilities. They are Canossian School (for those with hearing loss) and Lighthouse School (for those with deafness/hard of hearing and visual impairment). Both prepare students for mainstream examinations. Some SPED schools support students with multiple disabilities, and these can support those with sensory disabilities too.

In the mainstream education system, there are a few designated schools supporting students with sensory disabilities. These have specialised support, such as resource teachers who are trained to teach children with moderate to profound hearing loss or visual impairment. Students with sensory disabilties may also choose to attend non-designated schools.

Parents can consult medical professionals, social workers or teachers to seek professional advice on whether their child should attend a SPED school or mainstream school. The links below also provide useful information.

Service providers:
Other useful information:

 

Employment

Actions to take

  • For students in Institutes of Higher Learning contact your school’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support Office or look into internship or mentorship programmes.
  • If you have an acquired sensory disability, enrol in SG Enable’s Hospital-to-Work programme.
  • Explore skills upgrading and job placement opportunities.
  • Explore assistive technology (AT), as well as AT subsidies, to help with workplace modifications to facilitate work.
  • Find out more information here: Training and employment.


Work training and skills upgrading

There are various initiatives for students with special needs leaving the school system to help prepare them working life. These include internships and vocational training.

People who acquired a sensory disability due to accidents or illness, may find it difficult to return to their old jobs or prepare for a new career. They may consider SG Enable's Hospital-to-Work programme, which offers services including rehabilitation, skills training and employment assistance.

There are also many training courses offered at subsidised rates, and which are customised for persons with disabilities to upgrade their skills and enhance their employability. There are also grants and subsidies available to help defray training costs.

Finding employment

Job seekers with sensory disabilities may not require specialised employment assistance, but they can still use other services designed to help them secure and hold down a job, such as CV clinics and job matching services.

Assistive technology devices and software can help reduce or even remove challenges which people with sensory disabilities face at work. Employees can ask their employers to consider the Open Door Programme's Job Redesign Grant, which subsidises the cost of making accommodations for the employee, and covers the purchase of equipment, workplace modifications and redesigning of jobs or processes. Alternatively, they may choose to invest in subsidised Assistive Therapy (AT) devices with the help of Assistive Technology Fund.

Other useful information:

Resources and Support

   For more organisations, refer to this list

   For more organisations, refer to this list

Other forms of disability support

An overview of disability support available can be found on our Introduction page.

Money Matters

Information on financial assistance schemes, subsidies and grants.

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Transport

Information on accessibility features of public transport, concession cards.

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Assistive Technology

Hearing aids, Braille devices, magnifiers and other assistive technology to help you live and work more independently.

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Leisure & Recreation

Arts and sports venues, and other places of interest with barrier-free accessibility.

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