Disability Network

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A strong, self-mobilised and collaborative disability community that appreciates the needs and take collective action to improve the lives of people with disabilities.


A coherent network of disability organisations, VWOs and other relevant community assets that truly and authentically represent the interests of the disability community

This network will also democratise knowledge production (as knowledge is power, it puts power back in the hands of those close to the ground) and strengthens civil society (by allowing collective action without the need to rely on government resources).


1. Create robust & comprehensive knowledge of disability sector by consolidating insights and sharing new information

2. Advise and advocate to the government on existing or emerging issues

3. Monitor the implementation of government policy, e.g. Enabling Masterplan

4. Peer exchange, learning and collaboration among members

This Network aspires to achieve the same functions that a Council might, but without the overheads or the centralised decision-making and bureaucratic structure.

Disability Council Disability Community Network
Hierarchical - Chain of Command Network - Affiliated but Autonomous Organisations
Legitimacy of official positions Persuasion of peers
Centralised decision-making Decentralised decision-making
Constitution, Terms of Reference, Bylaws Objectives, Guiding Principles & Rules
Need Board to redefine Constantly refined by members
Representative Democracy Direct Democracy

Products of the Network and Its Uses

1-Knowledge Work: Take stock of information and updating the knowledge base through Wiki Pages

-collective understanding of the sector is more comprehensive and robust than individual vantage points by themselves

-information on needs, community resources and gaps allows strategic planning for members' own organisations, in response to and coordination with other organisations

-members will get user ids that allow them to directly edit the wiki pages if they want to. This allows the wiki pages to be constantly updated with new information members think will be pertinent to share with one another.

2-Policy Advocacy: Deliberate on issues & write Position Papers representing the views of members

-members will get Landscape Reports of the issue to be discussed before every Roundtable to establish an overview of basic information. This will allow the facts to be quickly established and corrected before moving on to the deliberation of key issues.

-instead of Enabling Masterplan led by MSF that consults the sector every 5 years, an Annual Needs & Gaps Report based on research and deliberation with other members can be sent to MSF

-such analyses is more likely to be taken seriously by government if they represent the collective wisdom of disability organisations and groups, and especially if they arrive at consensus on certain positions

3-Collaboration Among Members:

-members have access to one another's contact information, possibly start a LISTSERV or other modes of communication among members.

-members can share resources and collaborate on projects without the need to rely on a central authority

-eg joint research projects, collective fund-raising, sharing venues or pooling manpower etc.

How Will the Network be Run

-Members will submit agenda items, and Facilitators will help structure each meeting based on the agenda. Core Members, Associate Members and Individual Contributors can submit agenda items.

-Issues selected for discussion at main Roundtables should be relevant for the majority of members (e.g. broad themes like Employment or Education). These will be spread out over 4 main Roundtables (one per quarter).

-Members with an interest in niche issues (e.g Deaf culture, Disability Arts etc) can host subsidiary meetings pulling together those with common interests. Their findings and proposals will then be shared with the main network.

-There will be a Planning Meeting after each Roundtable to discuss the content and structure of subsequent Roundtables. Only Core Members will attend these meetings unless exceptions help the planning process.

General Guiding Principles

Play-testable; not need to get it all right in the beginning: These principles and rules should be work in progress and seen as such. There is no need to be overly concerned with getting them right if they will continuously be reworked and refined. More important to focus on the work itself, and getting to a set of principles that allow the work and objectives to be done. We expect these principles and rules to be more functional after a year of experimentation.

All-can-contribute: it doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you are interested and have something to contribute, we aspire to find a place and role for you to play that you feel comfortable with

Collaboration across community assets: empowering individuals and organisations to mobilise others operating in their sector, overcoming artificial boundaries (VWO, NGO, social enterprise, self-help groups, cooperatives, faith-based organisations etc) and competition as the only viable operating principle.

Persuasion instead of politics: No need for politics or power plays if there is no need to have one view and everyone move towards it; we can capture the diversity of views

Network Issues to Discuss and Resolve

the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and the Disabled People’s Association (DPA) convened a forum to discuss the design and formation of a network for and with the disability community, so that voluntary organisations and community groups interested in disability issues are able to understand the needs of their sector, define their own agenda and take collective action.

See Forum on Disability Network and Summary of the Forum

-Can social enterprises join the network?

-Do we need a formal process to certify or legitimise members or facilitators?

-Should we devise a system to reward members who contribute to sector knowledge?


Membership Criteria and Rules


Facilitator: [High commitment]

1) Visit NGOs or other organisations part of a particular sector to get them on board;

2) Custodian and curators of knowledge base, translates knowledge of member organisations onto the wiki page;

3) Convene meetings with members to talk though the knowledge base;

4) Liaison with backbone teams that are part of the collaborative to secure support for your social cause (eg meeting rooms, funds for wikithons, communications campaign etc).

Facilitators are 'custodians and curators' of a knowledge base, always on the look-out for ways to expand knowledge into areas that will help practice or policy

Members: [Medium commitment]

Organisation or group that plays a role or has core interest in the disability sector (VWO, NGO, Social Enterprise, Support group etc). Members will share information, show up for meetings, provide inputs and deliberate on issues.

Members are at the core of the Network, and the Network exists to serve them.

Associates & Contributors: [Low commitment]

Associates: Programmes or departments of government agencies can be an associate member (e.g. MSF Disability Division, SGE, NVPC Disability CoLabs).

Contributors: Interested individuals who are able to provide useful inputs to the knowledge base (Researchers, students, caregivers or clients etc.).

These are partners and friends.

List of Members


Institute of Policy Studies - Justin Lee (email: justin.lee@nus.edu.sg)

Disabled People’s Association - Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills

We welcome other disability organisations or groups who would like to co-facilitate the Network

Facilitators of Niche Networks

Hearing Impairment: ExtraOrdinary Horizons - Lily Goh

Arts & Disability: Very Special Arts - Maureen Goh

[Add link to facilitators' contact information (only accessible to members)]


Link to member's contact information (to make accessible only to members)

Associates and Contributors

Victor Zhuang - PhD Candidate at Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago

Roshini Prakash - NVPC's Disability Colabs

Network Agenda for 2018

Main meetings should be based on broad themes of general relevance to most of our members. For example: Early intervention, education, employment, caregiving, community inclusion etc. Specific or niche issues can also be studied by sub-groups of the network and brought to the Network for incorporation to the annual Disability Needs & Gaps Report.


Date - 11 May 2018

Time - 1.30 pm - 5.45 pm

Venue - Seminar Room 2-2, Level 2, Manasseh Meyer Building, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (Bukit Timah Campus)

Confirm Attendance for Network - 04 May 2018

We welcome organisations to table an agenda item for discussion related to this theme, and will allocate time once we get all the submissions. The deadline for submitting agenda items & papers is 04 May 2018. Please send in your submissions with the following details, together with any collaterals such as slides or documents:

  Presenter & Organisation:
  Collaterals and supporting materials:

Event Report here.


1 - Update on Network Objectives & Membership

2 - Facilitated Dialogue to Consolidate a Collective Understanding of the Employment Landscape

3 - Individual Agenda Items on Employment Submitted by Members
Materials & Presentations : https://drive.google.com/open?id=1MV43hH4ThwykSJWMe69drhl78xNhS79l

  • Hope for the Journey (parent support group) - Special needs individuals and employment issues
  • MINDS - Exploring characteristics of successful open employment from the perspectives of person, caregiver and employer
  • APSN Centre for Adults - Case study of Delta Senior School's new employment training model
  • SPD - Assistive Technology @ Work: How job accommodation including AT devices can enable PWDs to be productive at workplace
  • IPS - Proposal to write a position paper recommending quota system of hiring (See research study Beyond the Business Case: Different Models of Including People with Disabilities at Work)
  • DPA - Request for feedback on the findings of DPA's Discrimination in the Workplace study & Discussion about writing a position paper on anti-discrimination legislation in employment.

Follow-up Actions

1- [done] Update Employment Needs & Gaps Report - Visit organisations for 1-on-1 feedback

2- [done] Convene working group to study feasibility of employment quota system for PWDs





Date - 21 August 2018

Time - 1.30pm - 6.00pm

Venue - Swensen Room (Blk E Level 2 Room 2), APSN Delta Senior School, 3 Choa Chu Kang Grove, Singapore 688237

Confirm Attendance for Network - 10 August 2018

Proposed Agenda

Materials & Presentations : https://drive.google.com/open?id=1vsRlBrrMkqeq7MqjhXMgdoWdSOMcN9vP

  • Update on Needs & Gaps Reports - Employment and Education
  • Society Staples - Digital Literacy
  • Metta School - Virtual Reality in Metta School

We welcome organisations to table an agenda item for discussion related to this theme.

  • Should time not permit, priority will be given to agenda items that offer something to the community, and which contain a strong request for inputs or support in turn. This might mean calling for respondents to participate in and give inputs to a study or paper, partners to collaborate on a new programme, etc
  • Items that seek only to update or inform can be circulated among the DCN in the form of summarised factsheets or infographics

The deadline for submitting agenda items & papers is 10 August 2018. Please send in your submissions with the following details, together with any collaterals such as slides or documents:

  Presenter & Organisation:
  Collaterals and supporting materials:

Follow-up Actions







Date - Oct'18 (tentative)

Venue - TBC(Meeting Rm to be confirmed)

Facilitator Engagement with Members and Possible Guest Contributors - TBC

Deadline for submitting agenda items & papers - TBC

Confirm Attendance for Network - TBC

Proposed Agenda (TBC)

1-Take Stock of Caregiving Needs (IPS)

2-Transitions: home to school to work; and as caregivers age (Caregiver support groups)

3-[To invite] Caregiver support policies (MSF Disability Policy Division)



-Discuss Network Structure & Refine Rules

Papers (TBC)

1-Issue Brief: Caregiver Services for People with Disabilities in Singapore

2-Issue brief: Caregiver Experiences through various transitions

3-MSF slides: Policy overview of caregiver services



Follow-up Actions





Date - Nov'18

Venue - TBC (Meeting Rm to be confirmed)

Facilitator Engagement with Members and Possible Guest Contributors - TBC

Deadline for submitting agenda items & papers - TBC

Confirm Attendance for Network - TBC

Proposed Agenda (TBC)

1-Take stock of Community Inclusion; facilitated dialogue based on issue brief (IPS)

2-Present findings on 'What Counts as Inclusion?' from a study commissioned by SGE (IPS & SGE)

3-Complete Collective Stock Take of Needs & Gaps (IPS)

4-[To invite] BCA Accessibility Code


-Discuss Network Structure & Refine Rules

Papers (TBC)

1-Issue Brief: Disability public education, engagement and advocacy strategies in Singapore

2-Position paper: Evaluating inclusion and implications for determining what counts as success for disability programmes

3-Draft of Needs & Gaps Report 2018



Follow-up Actions



3-Members to provide inputs to Needs and Gaps by 15 Dec 2018

Regular Facilitator Planning & Social Meetings

The facilitators of the Disability Network as well as the larger Open Collab initiative will regularly meet to make plans, discuss issues faced, share ideas on how best to run the networks. This will be a relatively informal session where we also get to know one another.

However, for those who are new and just want to find out more about the Disability Network or the Open Collab, feel free to drop by and we'll be happy to explain. You are welcome too!

Contact: Justin Lee (email: justin.lee@nus.edu.sg)

Dates - Last Friday of Every Month, 4-5.30pm (except Good Friday)

23 Feb 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

29 Mar 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

27 Apr 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

25 May 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

29 Jun 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

27 Jul 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

31 Aug 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

28 Sep 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

26 Oct 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

30 Nov 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

28 Dec 2018 - IPS Meeting Rm

Venue - IPS Meeting Rm is at 1C Cluny Road, House 5, Singapore (259599)

Meeting Structure and Rules


-Aspire to have quarterly meetings per year: members set agenda and simple polling can be done to prioritise

-All members will automatically be invited to attend. Associates will be invited based on the issue at hand and members can deliberate who they want to invite. e.g. VWOs may not want their funders or regulators present as it may impede forthcoming dialogue or sharing.

-Members will also discuss and source for speakers where their presence is required to shed light on kowledge gaps of interest.

-Between the quarterly meetings, members are free to have separate meetings, commission studies or seek partnerships to investigate or discuss issues not on the main agenda, but will be integrated into the annual needs and gaps report.

-All reports will be sent to members for their inputs and final approval before it becomes 'official' and published online.

-Where a member is not able to make a meeting, they should aspire to send a deputy. Reports will be sent to all members so that they get a chance to provide inputs even if they were unable to attend. (In order not to hold back publication dates, reports will reflect which members who were unable to provide inputs in time, and these rpeorts be amended once they are able to).

-Where members disagree on the content or position taken by the paper there are various options:

1) If there is a majority view, the paper can be written to reflect that, but capturing the organisations who dissent and their reasons.

2) Not publish a position paper if the opinions are relatively split.

3) Publish a paper that reflects the diversity of views and their rationale, so that there is a documentation of the report.

Meeting Structure


1-Take Stock of Needs and Gaps

2-Convene to Prioritize Knowledge Gaps

3-Set Meeting Agenda for the Year


1-An issue brief will be sent out to members before convening

2-Take stock of knowledge gaps and prioritise them

3-At the meeting, members will deliberate on proposed policy recommendations or advocacy positions: policy or position paper will be written based on deliberations

4-Decide on how to present position if there is no consensus

5-Coordination and division of labour: Follow-up items; who will investigate what?

6-At the end of each session, there will be an opportunity for members to reflect on and suggest amendments to all the various the guiding principles and rules of the Disability Network (Purpose, Membership or Meetings)


1-Consolidate all findings for Annual Needs and Gaps Report

2-Facilitator will write up and send to all members

3-Once approved by members, report will be published online

Deliverables and Products

1-Issues briefs prior to each session

2-Position papers or policy briefs as a result of each session. There can also be feasibility studies, programme proposals, collective impact plans depending on the interests of the members.

3-A needs and gaps report to be written at the end of the year

Needs and Gaps Reports

2018 Disability Needs & Gaps Report

[Insert link to Google Docs]

2019 Disability Needs & Gaps Report

2020 Disability Needs & Gaps Report

Useful References

On building networks


On how to facilitate good conversations

Some principles of facilitating group dialogue https://www.icasc.ca/resources/holding-space

Disability Councils and what they do


On referendums and democratic decision-making

Switzerland's unique form of direct democracy allows groups of citizens to call for national referendums on specific policies if validated signatures of 100,000 Swiss citizens are collected in support of a proposal. Possible to consider a similar mechanism for networks here.

Justifications for running networks like this

From Steven Johnson (2001) Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software: complex systems exhibit emergence because they “solve problems by drawing upon masses of relatively (simple) elements, rather than a single, intelligent “executive branch.” They are bottom-up systems, not top-down. They get their smarts from below. In more technical language, they are complex adaptive systems that display emergent behavior. In these systems, agents residing on one scale start producing behavior that lies one scale above them: ants create colonies; urbanites create neighborhoods; simple pattern-recognition software learns how to recommend new books. The movement from low-level rules to higher-level sophistication is what we call emergence” (Johnson 2001: 18)

Tips for giving good feedback at Networks

-be honest

-be specific (explain what you disagree with or don't understand)

-be constructive (suggest how to improve)

-comment on the most important things first