An Inclusive Visit
“Is this really a Government office?” Minister Tan Chuan-Jin quipped as he stepped into GovTech’s Hive office, home to the Government Digital Services (GDS) team.
Mr Tan, Minister for Social and Family Development, dropped by Hive for the first time on 24 November 2016, to meet two members of the GDS team.
It was his second stop that morning; the first being National University Hospital (NUH), where he met two admin assistants from SG Enable’s School-to-Work programme.
Minister Tan was keen to learn how NUH and GovTech accommodated the needs of persons with disabilities, and especially how they could adapt and thrive in their workplaces.
Accompanied by Government Chief Information Officer and GovTech Deputy Chief Executive, Mr Chan Cheow Hoe, Minister Tan first met 25-year-old Mr Lim Zui Young, an engineer who is part of the GDS DevOps (or Development Operations) team.
Hailing from the pioneer batch of interns at GDS, Zui Young came on board full-time after graduating from SMU with a Masters of Applied Information Systems.
Zui Young can only see with his right eye, and it is tough for him to look at computer screens due to blurred vision and glare.
But despite his high astigmatism, Zui Young has no major issues at work, thanks to some clever design hacks and workplace arrangements (such as using bolder fonts on larger computer monitors).
Other useful tweaks which Zui Young demonstrated to the Minister included switching to inverted colours cuts off screen glare and improves onscreen contrast, helping him to see better.
Zui Young also showed how he used the on-screen magnifier and text-to-speech engines to help him read long passages of information.
As a DevOps engineer, Zui Young has contributed greatly to projects like the Business Grants Portal, a one-stop portal that lets businesses apply for multiple Government grants through a simplified online form system.
Current intern William Tay, who is a Year 3 Infocomm Security Management student at Singapore Polytechnic, also had the opportunity to chat with the Minister.
William’s hearing disability was no hurdle for him to enjoy a conversation with the Minister — both parties were able to chat using separate laptops.
William shared with the Minister his thoughts about working in Hive.
He said: “The office lets me interact with different people regardless of their position. Our culture is really like a start-up. I use an app that allows both parties to type big text on my mobile phone to manage one-on-one communications. I am excited that I am now working with my colleague Johnson to develop the speech to text app for those with similar disabilities.”
William revealed that one of his colleagues even picked up sign language in order to communicate better with him, adding: “I felt that was amazing!”
At the end of the visit, Minister Tan, through the experiences of both Zui Young and William, saw for himself how both of them managed to thrive at Hive.
He also had enough time to test drive the autonomous wheelchair prototype and check out the new drones currently being tested by GDS’ Emerging Tech team, and also chat with several GovTechies.
Thank you for the visit, Minister!
Keen to find out more? There’s a story on the Enabling Village webpage featuring five tips from Zui Young.
You can also check out Minister Tan Chuan-Jin’s Facebook video of his visit on his Facebook page!
Main Photo: (From left) Mr Chan Cheow Hoe, GovTech Deputy Chief Executive; Mr William Tay, GDS Intern; Mr Lim Zui Young, DevOps Engineer at GDS; Minister Tan Chuan-Jin; Mr Parimal Aswani, Director, Technology at GDS.
Main Photo courtesy of Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).