By Munnawara Gharib Saleh and Zhao Rubing
GOMBAK, 12 May 2021: As the world is moving forward, people with learning disabilities are not seen in the race, hence, to carry on with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 08) on Decent Work and Economic Growth, the government must take step to incorporate people with learning disabilities in the employment policy.
Mrs. Patricia Toh, an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya, who is also the Director of Advocacy in Dignity and Services, said this in a webinar conducted by Professional Speech Communication class recently.
She said that if the government wants to change employment policies to include people with learning disabilities then it has to change the education policy and people should be made aware of the issues concerning those with learning disabilities.
“Unless our education policies recognise these issues and also the public are made aware of these issues and the fact that the government sector is actually able to give these adults employment,” she affirmed.
She further added, “Because they have the support and they know that with the support of people who work with these children or these persons with such learning disabilities, then adults with such learning disabilities will definitely have difficulties in being employed in the public sector.”
As a mother of a 28-year old man with learning disabilities, she expressed the challenges that come with having an Autistic child in public area such as supermarket, “It is can be very embarrassing for us parents.”
Considering the public view people with learning disabilities as people suffering from mental health, she said.
Mrs. Toh focused her discussion on the webinar on her voluntary work at Dignity and Services and how this establishment provides support to people with learning disabilities.
She expressed: “It is a voluntary position. And I volunteer my time simply because I believe that children who are Autistic have a right really not only to live life as a fullest but as a decent as any normal human being would want.”
She described how the organisation is keeping up with SDG 08, Decent Work and Economic Growth, by coming up with creative projects such as Supported Living and Baked with Dignity (BWD) which are means of creating employment to them.
Supported Living brings the disabled together away from home and teaches them how to be independent. The pre-COVID-19 activities included cooking and cleaning, additionally outings to parks by using public transport. These activities are currently halted and some of which are created and held virtually.
As a social enterprise, BWD has helped people with learning disabilities to build confidence and to make them more independent; enabled them to have specific skills and improve their overall and fine motor skills; not only that, BWD improved their self-esteem, and enabled them to live a prosperous life and give back to society.
The webinar was moderated by Syarifah Athirah and Shi Peipei.***