Cerebral palsy and hearing difficulties have not stopped Ambika from following her dreams. Based on her interest, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS) School linked her up with a café, where she is whipping up lattes and more with confidence. She is also on social media, teaching followers how to sign.
Ambika exemplifies the goals of the Vocational Education Teaching and Learning Syllabus, which was launched on 27 July 2022. With this, Special Education (SPED) will place greater emphasis on teaching soft skills for the workplace. The community around these graduates is also encouraged to actively support them in their place of work.
Here, Ambika shares her journey to independence and finding meaningful work.
Ambika graduated from CPAS School in 2017. As a student, she learnt skills such as stocking up and cashiering in the school’s minimart. She also participated in a work attachment programme at Personalised Love, a social enterprise where she learned to make leather keychains.
Based on Ambika’s interests and preferences, CPAS School connected her with a work opportunity at Foreword upon her graduation. She started working at its National University of Singapore outlet in 2018. Ambika (first from right) is seen here with her colleagues at the Temasek Shophouse outlet, where she is now based.
With consistent practice and guidance from her work supervisor and colleagues – from how to froth the milk to using the right amount of coffee powder -- Ambika is able to prepare coffee independently and confidently. Whether it’s a latte or white coffee with sandwich, she’s ready to whip it up!
Over the years, Ambika’s job scope has expanded to include taking orders from customers, a frontline role which she had previously shied away from due to her hearing difficulty. To clarify customers’ orders, she either requests that they point at the menu, or provides pen and paper for them to write their order.
Ambika appreciates the faith that Lim Wei Jie (right), co-founder of Foreword, has in her. He was previously her work supervisor, and used sign language to onboard her as well as train her on the job. “We go the extra mile for persons with disabilities as we want them to have equal opportunities and feel welcome in our lives and workplaces. It is rewarding to see Ambika gain confidence and enjoy interacting with her co-workers and customers,” he says.
Brewing coffee is not the only way that Ambika contributes meaningfully. In her free time, she makes use of the social media app, TikTok, to teach her followers how to sign with individuals who have hearing loss.
Through her work at Foreword and her efforts on TikTok to help individuals with hearing loss to communicate, Ambika is living out some of the goals of Special Education, which is for every student to lead the life they want, to live independently, learn continuously, and work meaningfully.