Singapore: a food paradise? Only for some.

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In Singapore, food is king. Residents and visitors to this sunny island get to enjoy a mind-boggling array of food choices. So when we asked Be Inclusive app users to explore the inclusive side of Singapore, they naturally flocked to cafes, hawker centres and other places where locals love to eat.

With the Be Inclusive app, people with disabilities, single mothers, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people (LGBT) and other diverse groups have a unique opportunity to rate food and beverage places based on how well one’s needs were served.

 Food and beverage places were the most rated by Be Inclusive app users. But how do these places fare in terms of inclusiveness?

Food and beverage places were the most rated by Be Inclusive app users. But how do these places fare in terms of inclusiveness?

Since Bugis, Chinatown and Tiong Bahru are hailed as top-notch food meccas in Singapore’s central area we asked our users to focus their exploration in these precincts.

What they found was that Singapore’s famed food paradises are not always inclusive.

How inclusive is Chinatown?

Amanda was one of our app users who volunteered to explore Singapore. Joined by her friend Judy, Amanda ventured to Chinatown on her wheelchair. “This [area] is considered an adventurous spot for me. I would never ever travel out of my way to these parts of Singapore just to have a meal,” she said.

Judy agreed. “If we know [a place is] not accessible, we won’t even bother to try. Because it’s a waste of time.”

 Our app user Amanda goes around Chinatown for the first time in her life.

Our app user Amanda goes around Chinatown for the first time in her life.

Amanda and Judy’s adventure revealed some of the reasons why local wheelchair users avoid areas like Chinatown. Some of the entrances were simply inaccessible, due to the lack of ramps. Toilets were also often too narrow for their wheelchairs. Even the best of intentions to improve wheelchair accessibility seemed to backfire. For instance, an accessible table at Maxwell Centre had no seats around, making it hard for diners to share a table with their abled-bodied friends.

Find out more about Judy and Amanda’s adventure in Chinatown by watching the video below.

How can we do better?

In 2016, the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and the Tote Board launched a campaign seeking to change mindsets. But as former Social and Family Development Minister, Tan Chuan-Jin said in his opening remarks, creating an inclusive society could not be solved just by building accessible facilities.

Quoted in this article by Channel News Asia, Mr Tan said, "Having accessible facilities is just one aspect of fostering an inclusive and caring society. Beyond the physical hardware and infrastructure, what is even more important is to raise awareness within the wider community on disability issues, and to nurture the right attitudes when interacting with persons with disabilities amongst us."

The value and importance of inclusion strikes at the heart of why the Be Inclusive app was built. Our team believes that inclusive societies result in more prosperity, innovation and happiness where all citizens can thrive.

 The Be Inclusive team joined our app users Amanda and Judy in their adventure in Chinatown.

The Be Inclusive team joined our app users Amanda and Judy in their adventure in Chinatown.

This inspired us to launch our campaign entitled "Explore the Inclusive Side of Singapore" in November 2017. The campaign’s purpose was to learn how inclusive Singapore is by providing a platform for minority communities and diverse groups to share their knowledge.

Amanda, Judy and other app users rated places and gave feedback in a bid to help business owners improve. In their challenging adventure into Chinatown, Amanda and Judy encountered business owners who went out of their way to demonstrate their commitment to inclusion.

One of them was restaurant owner Mr Wee who, along with his staff, did their best to make Amanda and Judy feel welcome despite the obstacles.

 Restaurant owner Mr Wee shares how he and his staff take action to make his diverse customers feel welcome in his coffee shop at Chinatown.

Restaurant owner Mr Wee shares how he and his staff take action to make his diverse customers feel welcome in his coffee shop at Chinatown.

We challenge you to heed Mr Wee’s advice and be inclusive in your everyday life.

Download the Be Inclusive app now and learn what makes a place accessible for wheelchair users. Check out our growing list of wheelchair-accessible places and much more. Use the app to help us build a more inclusive Singapore.

Editor