From 1 October 2019, commuters with invisible medical conditions that prevent them from standing for long periods of time may get a special sticker to alert fellow commuters on trains and buses that they require a seat. Such medical conditions include chronic pain, heart disease, those referring from strokes or physical injuries or those undergoing cancer treatment.

Commuters with such conditions may make their requests at MRT stations or bus interchanges with the support of a doctor’s note or medical certificate. LTA has announced that this new visual identifier project has been launched to bridge the gap between commuters with invisible medical conditions and other commuters who now do not need to second-guess the needs of these commuters.  

Read the full article on Channel News Asia: May I have a seat please? LTA rolls out stickers to help commuters with invisible medical conditions

Analysis:

Have you ever wondered whether a fellow commuter was in her early stages of pregnancy and then subsequently considered whether you should give up your seat? Or do you worry that you might offend your fellow passenger in the event that she is not pregnant? Having a special sticker to signal that you require a seat on public transport would indeed help take the guesswork out of such situations and help passengers who need to sit down obtain seats.

Would such stickers work or would they go unnoticed when commuters are so occupied with their mobile phones? It is not uncommon to see trains filled with people who are glued to their phones, catching up on their social media feed or watching some television dramas. In such a scenario, commuters may fail to realise that someone is wearing a sticker indicating that he or she requires a seat.

Perhaps, the question to be asked is why commuters with special conditions do not feel empowered to ask others for their seats?  What prevents someone with an invisible medical condition to request that someone gives up their seat? Do we put up with the medical complications or symptoms instead of imposing our needs on others? If we created a culture where individuals with invisible medical conditions could ask for a seat and not suffer a backlash, then this may prove to be more effective than a special sticker.

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. If you suffer from an invisible medical condition, would you consider obtaining this special LTA sticker? Would you be comfortable asking a fellow commuter for a seat? Why or why not?
  2. Should LTA require medical documentation to prove that one is eligible for this special sticker? Should commuters with invisible medical conditions be required to provide medical documentation to the transport authorities? Why or why not?

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘prosthetic’: relating to an artificial device to replace or augment a missing or impaired part of the body; a prosthetic limb
  2. ‘progressively’: advancing; moving forward or onward

 

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