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New initiatives for passengers with dementia, other invisible disabilities launched at Changi Airport

/ 04:43 PM February 03, 2022
New initiatives for passengers with dementia or other invisible disabilities launched at Changi Airport

Passengers with invisible disabilities can travel more comfortably using a customisable step-by-step airport guide. PHOTO: CHANGI AIRPORT GROUP via The Straits Times/Asia News Network

SINGAPORE – Passengers with invisible disabilities, such as dementia and autism spectrum disorder, will now be able to get additional help when travelling through Changi Airport.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) said on Wednesday (Feb 2) that it has worked with special needs schools and organizations to launch three new initiatives for such passengers.

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The initiatives comprise a customisable step-by-step airport guide, identification of lanyards for those with invisible disabilities and specialised training for staff.

Mr Damon Wong, vice-president of passenger experience, ground operations and customer service at CAG, said: “Navigating unfamiliar places and procedures while catching a flight can be stressful, especially for passengers whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent.

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“The initiatives aim to improve the overall travel experience for passengers with invisible disabilities and we hope it makes the airport a more comfortable and accessible place for them.”

The airport guide is structured as a social story. A social story refers to a medium with pictures and descriptions that helps people with invisible disabilities familiarise themselves with various processes.

CAG said the Changi Airport Social Story will outline the entire airport journey from check-in to boarding, so as to help passengers and caregivers with their pre-flight preparation.

The social story, which is downloadable from Changi Airport’s website, also lets each passenger customise the guide to suit their own journeys. It can also be printed for physical use.

It was jointly developed with educators from Rainbow Centre Training and Consultancy.

Rainbow Centre is a non-profit organisation that seeks to empower people with disabilities to thrive in an inclusive community.

On the recognition of lanyards, CAG said it has trained airport staff to identify two types of lanyards that may be worn by people with invisible disabilities.

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These are the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard and the Land Transport Authority’s May I Have a Seat Please lanyard.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard (left) and the Land Transport Authority's May I Have a Seat Please lanyard

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard (left) and the Land Transport Authority’s May I Have a Seat Please lanyard. PHOTOS: THE HIDDEN DISABILITIES SUNFLOWER, LAND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY via The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Airport staff who spot this lanyard will offer passengers more help, such as by giving them more time to complete a particular procedure.

On specialised staff training to help passengers with invisible disabilities, CAG said more than 300 front-line staff have undergone such training so far.

These staff, who are referred to as Changi Care Ambassadors, were trained by Rainbow Centre Training and Consultancy.

Front-line staff, identified by their gold pins, are trained to support passengers with invisible disabilities on their airport journey

Front-line staff, identified by their gold pins, are trained to support passengers with invisible disabilities on their airport journey. PHOTO: CHANGI AIRPORT GROUP via The Straits Times/Asia News Network

They are identified by a gold pin, and have the skills to effectively help passengers with special needs.

More staff will undergo the training this year, CAG said.

Mr Arthur Elfin Chiang, assistant director of Rainbow Center Training and Consultancy, said the centre is heartened by CAG’s moves to become a more inclusive airport.

“With the adoption of inclusive practices by CAG to interact with and support persons with disabilities at the various airport touchpoints, we are confident that their user experience at the airport will be uplifted,” he added.

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