Creating awareness for hidden disabilities on public transport with a lanyard and card
The “May I Have A Seat Please” Lanyard is co-created by the Movement of Inclusivity and the Land Transport Authority.
If you are seated in a crowded train and come across someone carrying a lanyard and card with the words “May I Have A Seat Please” written on it, don’t worry, it’s not a prank being played on you.
The lanyard and card was rolled out in April in joint collaboration with the Movement of Inclusivity (MOI), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Caring Commuters Committee SG (CCC).
It’s a permanent expansion to the “May I Have A Seat Please” stickers pilot launched in October 2019 to help those with invisible disabilities or medical conditions, such as chronic pain or fatigue, dizziness, heart disease, arthritis, following positive feedback from the public. The initiative also helps commuters who have physical injuries, recovering from stroke, undergoing stroke, as well as users of prosthetic limbs and early-stage expectant mothers.
The lanyard helps members of the public to identify those in need, even if they may not appear so, and let individuals offer their seats to those with the lanyard.
“This lanyard and card serves as a reminder to the general public to be more aware of how each one of us has the responsibility to make public transport a more inclusive place and also allows the community to be able to enjoy the public transport facilities just like any one of us do,” said Charmaine Foo, director and co-founder of MOI.
Even the design of the lanyard was done with that awareness in mind. MOI and CCC organised an art competition, themed “Who am I”, inviting individuals with various disabilities to share how they see themselves through independently created artworks.
The competition was held as the organisers believes that the journey towards making Singapore a more inclusive society involves many stakeholders, including the community with disabilities and medical conditions themselves.
Charmaine said: “As far as MOI is aware of, this is the first few, if not the first, art competition organised from the ground-up that is held exclusively for those with such disabilities.
“It allows individuals to represent their communities in expressing their take on ‘Who am I’, in our Singapore society. ”
With the lanyard and card – which can be obtained for free at any Passenger Service Centres and Offices as well as selected TransitLink Offices by those who think they need it – MOI hopes to promote inclusion between those with invisible long-term medical conditions and the general public.
“Since rolling it out, some of the comments gathered reflected caregivers’ appreciativeness towards this lanyard and others were shared from the community themselves, talking about how this lanyard can allow them to ask for a seat without feeling ashamed simply because they ‘looked young and normal’,” Charmaine shared
While the lanyard and card doesn’t necessarily solve all the problems faced by those with invisible disabilities and conditions, it’s a start.
MOI intends to continue working with relevant authorities to further improve the lanyard to assist people in the community better and tackle other issues, such as individuals with special needs suffering a breakdown on public transport.
Charmaine said: “We believe that the lanyard holds many possibilities and are excited to ensure it meets its full potential.”
These are all part of the moves to help MOI achieve its aim of making Singapore a more inclusive country. MOI, which was formed as a student-led project in Ngee Ann Polytechnic and later became part of the Youth Action Challenge last year, believes that recognising the strengths and autonomy of the community is an important mindset to have in order to become more inclusive.
Charmaine explained that another step towards being more inclusive is to remind ourselves that disabilities and medical conditions do not determine someone and that having a disability or condition is not all to an individual.
Being inclusive is important, as inclusion is all about looking at how a certain space or service can cater to people from different abilities and different backgrounds.
“If one such setting is currently not as easily accessed to a community than another, then we have got to do something about it,” said Charmaine.
This is where the lanyard and card come in – to serve as a reminder to the general public to be more aware of how each and every one of us has the responsibility to make public transport a more inclusive place.
It also allows the community – regardless of who you are – to be able to enjoy the public transport facilities equally.
Charmaine said: “As Singapore continues improving ourselves in many aspects, it is important for us to stop and think. Is the ideal Singapore that we are building, also the Singapore that is ideal for all the different communities?”
To find out more about the movement, visit the Caring SG Commuters portal here. To be part of the movement, you can join as a Caring Commuter Champion, an initiative aiming to educate volunteers about challenges faced by commuters with mobility needs.