Gainful employment of two young adults with mild intellectual disability: A narrative study

Ms Wan Ting Tay1

1Singapore University of Social Sciences, Singapore

Employment promotes independence and empowerment. However, only one in 10 persons with disabilities (PWD) in Singapore is employed in open employment (OE). While the community stakeholders continue to support inclusive hiring, hearing from the minority of PWD in OE and their support network, would provide us with greater insights into the problem.

This qualitative study examines the lived experiences and insights into the world of work from the perspectives of two young adults with mild intellectual disability, their families and work supervisors.

Both participants had de-emphasised the significance of their disabilities and instead, presented themselves in terms of their family and social roles. The findings from the interview transcripts, journal entries and photographs showed that their ecosystem of support have contributed to their vocational competence and their abilities to navigate the complexities of adulthood.

The findings have exemplified the importance of using an ecological framework in providing support for persons with disabilities across their developmental milestones. Specifically, it has demonstrated that in addition to the external support structures, having strong family and work-place support is equally critical in nurturing self-determination and in navigating life transitions. Both participants are gainfully employed, much to the credit of their families, vocational training, formalized school-to-work transition program and supportive mentors, who are accommodative to their needs. However, although they are coping and adapting well, intermittent support should still be made available for them as their needs may change and evolve along the way.


The presenter has 18 years of working experiences as a school teacher in mainstream and special education schools, as well as supporting students with special educational needs in tertiary institutions. She has a strong passion to work alongside persons with intellectual disability as well as with their caregivers.