Dialogue in the Dark Singapore won the Public Sector Transformation Award

Spotlight on the Blind, an online program developed by Dialogue in the Dark Singapore, has been recognized with the Public Sector Transformation Award.

Screenshot of the Singapore Foreign Office page introducing Ngee Ann Polytechnic's programm "Spotlight on the Blind", represented at the awards ceremony by Sim Kah Yong, as the winner of the "Public Sector Transformation Awards" in the "Dare to Do" category. Mah Wee Beng, vice rector and registrar, is quoted as saying: "So proud of the team! They went out of their comfort zone, pivoting to an online programme. Feedback has been positive, and we've continued to gainfully employ our bling staff!"

The Public Sector Transformation Award is a Whole-of-Government pinnacle platform to recognise and reward public officers and public agencies for excellence in their work and organisational practices.

With Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions, Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) – as all DiD partners around the world - had to put its Dialogue in the Dark programmes on hold temporarily.

This situation threatened the livelihoods of the blind employees. Therefore, there was an urgent need to pivot to an online format, at the same time ensuring that clients would still have an immersive, pedagogically effective experience.

The challenge was a big one, given that the programmes in total darkness are highly experiential and transformational. In addition, the blind staff at DiDSG did not have any experience hosting online sessions.

In May 2020, the design phase for a new programme, Spotlight on the Blind (SOTB) was started. All hands were on deck including a few of the academic staff from NP. The full-time visually impaired staffs were roped in to identify suitable activities and flesh out the key learning points for the programme. Tasks were then split up, including working out the design, developing resources such as interactive videos to support the programme, scripting, and conducting interviews with educators from primary and secondary schools (the key clients) to glean insights into how best implement the programme.

The blind facilitators were trained to conduct a brand-new programme on an unfamiliar platform like zoom and equip them to independently do so from their homes. To conduct a structured online programme in the light meant getting out of their comfort zone for most of the guides.

SOTB was launched in November 2020 and all the hard work started to pay off with participants giving positive feedback on their experience with the programme. Clients who had previously attended programmes in the dark also commented that DiDSg had done a good job in pivoting to an online format. As importantly, it provided the opportunity for the guides to become more technologically savvy and better equipped for a digital world.

SOBT initiative was crowned with the Public Sector Transformation Awards 2021 – Dare to Do Category. Kah Yong attended the ceremony as one of the representatives from the blind team. And part of the Ngee Ann's Deputy Principal, Mah Wee Beng speech was: "So proud of the team! They went out of their comfort zone, pivoting to an online programme. Feedback has been positive, and we have continued to gainfully employ our blind staff!"

We thank Ngee Ann Polytechnic for providing us with the story behind Spotlight on the Blind and we congratulate the whole team for the award. But maybe more important, we acknowledge their big commitment to navigate the uncertain period of the pandemic together with the blind team members, increasing their abilities and transforming their way to impact to take good care of our mission: fostering the inclusion of people with disabilities, at any time.

Find more information on DiDSg’s facebook page.