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Country Background

Singapore has a population of 5,604,000 people (UNESCAP 2015), and UNESCAP report 2015 indicated that a total of 3.0%, there are an estimated minimum of 100,000 people with disabilities living in Singapore.

Singapore has made some effort to define its understanding of people with disabilities (PWD), and to evolve that definition over time. In 2004, for example, then Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS, now known as Ministry of Social and Family Development, or MSF) added the category of developmental disabilities to the 1988 definition written by the Advisory Council for the Disabled (ACD).


Following this, the definition of PWDs in Singapore became, and remains, “those whose prospects of securing, retaining places and advancing in education and training institutions, employment and recreation as equal members of the community are substantially reduced as a result of physical, sensory, intellectual and developmental impairments.” This definition, at its core, is based on a medical criterion, but also takes into account the socio-functional limitations in the environment and society. The latter part of the definition draws on the idea that society is in part responsible for the barriers facing PWDs, and that there is a great deal that society can and should do to reduce these.

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