There is another type of Orientation in NUS. A kind, gentle, compassionate one. Those who organise it call themselves the NUS Enablers.
There is a need for a special Orientation for student with special needs (SSNs) for various reasons. I bet few of us students have considered that some SSNs cannot participate fully in the general Orientation activities. For example, students with limited mobility will find the hilly NUS campus inaccessible on wheelchair, or cannot join in the running or contact games. Students with visual or hearing impairment may lack peer support and guidance in camps. Students with autism may be unaccustomed to the intense socialising that freshmen camps require. Yet at the end of the day they are still students like you and me. They might even have undergone greater challenges to matriculate into NUS, and are really worthy of respect and awe. These SSNs are freshmen deserving of a proper orientation and senior guidance.
Their goal is simple – that all, including the freshmen who are disabled, have a chance to enjoy orientation, to make friends before they start school; and importantly and practically, during the Orientation to learn how to navigate around campus, e.g., which routes are more accessible if you were wheelchair-bound; where they could get both physical assistance e.g, van support to move between faculties; or how to borrow special equipment like voice recorders; and social support.
Founded since 2011, the NUS Enablers run many programmes throughout the year, with a two-fold aim: to assist those with special needs; as well as to raise awareness among the rest of the students on how to better integrate such students into our midst.
Lim Tze Wei, going on to second year BBA (Hons), says when he first heard of the group, it ticked all the right boxes for him – to participate in campus activities in a way that would also give back. Last year, he took on the role of Vice President, Projects.
Throughout the year, the Enablers organised a series of activities such as:
– Orientation to help SSNs become familiar with the campus and especially to show them the best accessible routes;
– Wheelathon where non-disabled peers are challenged to find their way around campus on wheelchairs, so they can experience the daily difficulties faced by their wheelchair-bound course mates;
– Para-Sports Carnival to raise awareness and to salute the “Olympian” resolve of those with SSN through games;
– Discussion groups to hear about issues SSNs may have on campus; and events like the Wheelchair Handling Workshops to equip volunteers with tips on how to handle a wheelchair;
– A Buddy system for those that may need help getting from place to another.
We are so proud of you, NUS Enablers!
Scroll down to find out more about the NUS Enablers via their activity posters. Or read more about them on their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NUS.Enablers/
NUS Enablers work closely with the Disability Support Office (DSO) (within the Office of Student Affairs) which provide support to SSNs in many aspects:
– Recommend landscape or infrastructural changes to Office of Estate and Development to better serve the needs of such students, e.g. identify areas where ramps are needed;
– Provide on-campus accommodation or cross-campus transport services;
– Provide medical and counselling referral services;
– Provide guided orientation;
– Advise on special arrangements, such as extra time, assistive technologies or special requirements for examinations;
– Assist in providing peer note takers, sign language interpreters or voice recorders;
– Linking up to internship opportunities;
– Administer scholarships or financial support schemes (third party for SSNs; and
– Assist in disseminating employment opportunities for graduating students
Find out more here: http://www.nus.edu.sg/osa/dso/studsupport
Here is the poster-journey of some of the activities organised by the NUS Enablers:
Interested in becoming an Enabler? Find out more here – https://www.facebook.com/NUS.Enablers/