Many of us are expected to enter the workforce at a certain point in our lives and it is a necessity as much as it is the norm. Besides earning a living wage, entering the workforce allows for socialising and building connections with people, as well as sharpening our skills and knowledge. Hence, declining those with disabilities a chance at employment impedes their quality of life. With greater awareness and support, individuals with disabilities can be active members of the workforce.
At Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore) (MDAS), we believe in the importance of empowering people with muscular dystrophy to find employment. Our programme, B-Hive, aims to nurture our Muscular Dystrophy (MD) members and equip them with the necessary skills to gain employment. This can range from open employment to centre-based or even home-based. In B-Hive, members can work together and motivate each other by sharing their experiences. This allows more opportunities for them to be engaged in gainful employment and secure a form of financial independence.
Shin Ming, a member of MDAS with MD, underwent our B-Hive programme (then called Bizpower) and eventually found employment in 2015. Shin Ming’s boss was seeking to use his business to help those that are underprivileged. This vision allowed for honest conversations within the company. “By having honest conversations, you will discover what tasks are suitable for people with muscular dystrophy and what tasks are not,” Shin Ming said. According to Shin Ming, there are times that people with muscular dystrophy struggle to achieve assigned tasks and hence the opportunity for such conversations are valued and crucial.
“Employers can check whether the employee is coping well in their job and suggest ways for them to improve or even adapt their job scope to something more suitable,” Shin Ming shared based on his own experience in the workforce. There are many ways that employers can show their concern and make the workplace conducive for people with muscular dystrophy. Acts such as dropping in to check whether the person is coping with their job and adapting to the needs of an employee with disabilities is a wonderful way to show care.
We hope that more companies will open their doors to people with muscular dystrophy and encourage a workplace culture that is both caring and inclusive.