Group photo of guest-of-honour, Mr Eric Chua, with management and partners from Guide Dogs Singapore.

Group photo of guest-of-honour, Mr Eric Chua, with management and partners from Guide Dogs Singapore.

SINGAPORE (27 October 2023) — October is Blindness Awareness Month, which serves as an important opportunity to raise awareness and foster a deeper understanding of the challenges and experiences of the vision impaired community. On 15 October, International White Cane Day stands as a tribute to the achievements, challenges, and aspirations of individuals with vision impairment (VI). It is a day devoted to honouring the white cane, a symbol of independence and resilience, and celebrating the journey of the VI community from dependency to full participation in society.

Guide Dogs Singapore (GDS) marked this significant occasion by bringing the community together with an event at Parkway Parade on 8 October 2023. Under the theme “Inspiring Lives Without Sight”, the event encapsulated GDS’s mission to empower those with VI, transforming limitations into possibilities and highlighting the strength of the VI community.

The event’s launch was graced by Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth and the Ministry of Social and Family Development. His presence emphasised the positive impact of vision rehabilitation, witnessed through interactions with VI clients served by GDS.

“I am grateful for partners such as Guide Dogs Singapore, who work alongside us in our efforts to raise public awareness on disability. Today’s event signals a step forward in promoting greater awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with visual impairment. It also highlights the importance of accessibility and inclusion in our society, and that we all have a role to play in creating a more inclusive community for all.” 

Mr Eric Chua , Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth and the Ministry of Social and Family Development
Guest-of-honour, Mr Eric Chua, treads an obstacle course while blindfolded with sighted assistance from Guide Dogs Singapore’s Orientation & Mobility Specialist, Ms Simone Oh.

Guest-of-honour, Mr Eric Chua, treads an obstacle course while blindfolded with sighted assistance from Guide Dogs Singapore’s Orientation & Mobility Specialist, Ms Simone Oh.

In attendance were longstanding partners of GDS, including TechnipFMC, SBS Transit, SMRT Corporation, SG Enable. Mr. Roger Tan, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations at TechnipFMC Asia, expressed their enduring commitment:

“TechnipFMC is honoured to stand alongside Guide Dogs Singapore (GDS) as a steadfast partner for the past 16 years. As an organisation deeply committed to community development, our core values – ‘Realising possibilities, Achieving together, and Building trust’ – harmonise seamlessly with GDS’s vital work for the vision impaired community. Our foundational beliefs echo GDS’s mission, emphasising sustainable outcomes, empowering vision impaired individuals to attain self-sufficiency, and restoring their dignity and respect. We commend GDS for their quality training programmes that prioritise safety and enable a future of independence.”

Mr Roger Tan, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations at TechnipFMC Asia

Beyond rehabilitation services, GDS focuses on advocacy and education, fostering knowledge and literacy on vision health for a more empathetic society. Event highlights included a launch ceremony, immersive experiences to understand the VI community, complimentary eye screenings in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic, and booths operated by individuals with VI, celebrating diverse abilities.

A core objective for GDS is holistic collaboration with community partners. This event showcased collaborations with iC2 PrepHouse and Singapore Repertory Theatre, highlighting a comprehensive approach to empowerment. Such collaborations enable pooling and distributing resources effectively, working together to promote inclusivity.

GDS’s journey towards disability inclusion aligns perfectly with Singapore’s Enabling Masterplan 2030, a national initiative aimed at creating a more inclusive and equitable society. Their mission goes beyond just providing guide dogs; they are dedicated to transforming lives through holistic rehabilitative training and services, empowering the vision impaired community to lead fulfilling and independent lives. The community event represents progress in promoting greater awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with VI.

There are an estimated 40,000 blind and vision impaired persons in Singapore, which will only increase with the rapid ageing population, longer life spans and congenital eye defects. Their work is not just about helping VI people navigate the physical world; it’s about ensuring an improved quality of life, equal access to opportunities, and active engagement within communities. The growing number of individuals facing vision impairment reinforces the urgency of their mission, making their work even more vital today.

As a self-funded charity, GDS is actively raising funds to provide rehabilitation programmes to empower more individuals with vision impairment. Till 31 October 2023, all donations to GDS are matched dollar-for-dollar by the Tote Board*, doubling their impact. Contributions can be made at giving.sg/gds/aug23.

*Matching capped at $250,000 per charity per financial year

Key Event Highlights:

  • Launch Ceremony: Officiated by Mr Eric Chua and Dr Wong Hon Tym, Chairperson of GDS, featured a symbolic gesture that underscored the significance of undergoing Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training. Both dignitaries donned blindfolds and were tasked with attaching a white cane and guide dog harness, guided solely by verbal instructions from an event attendee and an O&M Specialist. This demonstration emphasises the importance of encouraging people with VI to seek rehabilitative services, equipping them with the skills to live life with confidence and self-sufficiency.
  • Educating the Community through Immersive Experiences: The event featured experiential activities that provided educational insights into the world of the VI community. Attendees had the opportunity to step into the shoes of someone navigating their surroundings without sight, engage with assistive tools, and learn how to help people with vision loss in public through a quiz and trivia quest. These activities transcended generational and demographic boundaries, fostering inclusivity and understanding for all.
  • Promoting Eye Health and Preventive Measures: In partnership with Singapore Polytechnic, Diploma in Optometry, complimentary eye screenings were offered to the public. This initiative furthered GDS’s commitment to promoting good eye health, ensuring that the community has access to vital health information.
  • Showcasing Diverse Abilities within the Vision Impaired Community: Several event booths were operated by individuals with VI, providing opportunities for direct interaction between sighted and non-sighted individuals. This celebrates the diverse talents within the VI community, and also showcases the organisation’s dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion.
GDS is a non-profit voluntary welfare organisation, and has been accorded Charity status by the Commissioner of Charities. We are registered with the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) as an associate member and holds an Institute of Public Character status.
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