KUCHING: Disabilities issues advocate Peter Tan will begin writing a weekly column for The Borneo Post from today.
Titled ‘Breaking Barriers’, Tan will share his experiences of having sustained a spinal cord injury at the age of 18 and life since.
He will also use the column to educate readers on disability issues as well as advocating for the rights of the disabled.
Tan has a blog called ‘The Digital Awakening’ at www.petertan.com and facilitates as a senior disability equality training (DET) trainer through public seminars and workshops.
The training seeks to transform society’s entrenched attitudes and misconceptions about people with disabilities (PWDs) towards a more inclusive community for all.
This includes promoting disability as an equal opportunity issue, examining the barriers faced by disabled people in society, questioning stereotypes, myths and misconceptions about disability, promoting effective communication between disabled people and non-disabled people and promoting positive change both in policy and practice.
During a seminar in Kuching last year, Tan told participants from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), private sector and government agencies that PWDs are created when people with impairments experience disabling factors in society or the environment they live in.
While recognising the importance of rehabilitation for PWDs, Tan believes that it is ultimately more beneficial for society as a whole to remove physical, mental, attitudinal and environmental barriers and empower PWDs to participate fully as active, productive and equal members of society.
Born in Penang, Tan has travelled around Malaysia and to Japan and Thailand for training as a peer counsellor for the Independent Living Programme for People with Disabilities.
This project is supported by the Welfare Department and Japan International Cooperation Agency to empower severely disabled persons to live independently in the community through self-respect, self-determination and social reformation.
In 2007, he was a speaker at the 7th World Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International and Global Summit on Independent Living in Seoul, South Korea.
Tan currently resides in Kuala Lumpur with his loving wife and their pampered cats.
He is also a passionate amateur photographer and food aficionado.
Read the first ‘Breaking Barriers’ column on Page 9.