Singapore Association for the deaf (SADeaf)

The cause

Loss of hearing can have many reasons, it can be a condition already present at birth (that’s why there is a universal newborn hearing screening in Singapore!), it can be age-related hearing loss, which is becoming very common (Singapore is the second fastest ageing nation in Asia and about 50% of those 80 years and above are expected to have significant hearing loss).

For deaf people, barriers to access are rarely about physical obstacles. The most common challenge faced by the deaf is the lack of access to information. Many important messages are conveyed through verbal or auditory methods, like the siren of a fire alarm, the lecturer at university or the news on television. Particularly, during education, children who are hard-of-hearing or deaf need suitable ways of communication with their teachers to be able to develop their full potential.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing should have the right to information in accessible formats – such as through sign language interpreters, subtitles and captions – across all forms of media and particularly during childhood education.


The plan

Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) not just provides services for the deaf community, but – being run by deaf as well as some hearing – serve as an important voice for the deaf community advocating for equal opportunity in all aspects of life.

So, there are regular services offered, like the hearing centre and the community services, where from individual counselling to collaboration with companies and gov’t agencies, SADeaf works to better support the deaf and hard of hearing community in general. For students, there is the Itinerant Support Service to cater to the particular needs during higher education, like learning support or speech therapy.

Most important for the equal access efforts is the “Deaf Access Service” and their work on Singapore Sign Language and sign language resources (instruction, translation). It also offers translation services for sign language and professional note-taking. This is important support when communicating with your doctor, making inquiries with service agencies or when in need for the support of a lawyer. These are features of equal access as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Singapore has ratified and which mentions sign language as means of access several times.

SADeaf runs two schools. Singapore School for the Deaf is under MoE and open for primary and secondary school children. At ITE approved Mountbatten Vocational School admission has been opened up to youth with multiple handicaps or learning disabilities, as there was a clear need in the community for these kind of training opportunity.

Several groups are working alongside SADeaf’s mission, like its volunteer group “Youthbeat”, SDYS (Singapore Deaf Youth Section) for young entrepreneurs or “Signifique”, an artistic group sharing the joy of music for deaf and hearing alike.


To assist the deaf to achieve a better quality of life and to enable them to integrate and contribute to society






Society with the Commissioner of Charities

IPC (institution of public character) status until 2017

Member of National Council for Social Service (NCSS)



Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) -- Ministry of Education (MOE)

World Federation of the Deaf (WFD)

Children Charities’ Association (CCA)