1950 - 1969


Mr Peng Tsu Ying set up the Singapore Chinese Sign School for the Deaf and became the first deaf principal in Singapore.


The Singapore Association for the Deaf was founded. It was then known as Singapore Deaf and Dumb Association.

How did it come to be established? In the early 1950s, the Singapore Red Cross Society began conducting classes for deaf children and provided counseling services for their parents. As the demand for classes increased, the Singapore Red Cross Society and the officials of the Social Welfare Department founded the Association.

The inauguration ceremony was held in Raffles Institution on 15 September. On 30 September, the first Executive Council meeting was at the Social Work Department at Havelock Road.


The Association mooted the idea of setting up a school for the deaf at the Executive Council meeting on 10 February.


The proposal to change the name of the Association to “The Singapore Association for the Deaf” was approved at the Annual General Meeting on 2 April.


The Singapore School for the Deaf was established via the merger of the Singapore Chinese Sign School for the Deaf and the Oral School for the Deaf. It aimed to provide a proper educational curriculum to ensure equal opportunities in education for deaf children.


SADeaf co-founded the Children’s Charities Association. It still exists today and the annual CCA Christmas Fair at Orchard Road is now an established tradition.

1970 - 1989


Minister for Social Affairs, Encik Othman Wok, laid the foundation stone for the Vocational School for the Handicapped (then known as the Vocational Institute for the Handicapped).


The Youth Group for the Deaf, which organised social and recreational activities, was formed. In the same year, the Association’s volunteers started the first pre-school group.


In the late 1960s, as Singapore was developing its industries, the Association saw opportunities for economic independence for deaf youths. With help from the Vocational Industrial Training Board (now known as the Institute of Technical Education), the Association drafted plans to train skilled workers.

The Vocational School for the Handicapped (then known as the Vocational Institute for the Handicapped) was established with funds raised by SADeaf.


The Total Communication (TC) philosophy was adopted. The TC approach make use of signs, speech, gestures, speech reading, amplification, finger spelling, and/or other modes of communication to provide linguistic input to deaf children.


The Youth Group for the Deaf was renamed the Social Group for the Deaf, reflecting the wider range of activities conducted for various age groups.

The Vocational Institute for the Handicapped was registered with the Ministry of Education as the Vocational School for the Handicapped.


The Social Work Section was established at the Secretariat.

The Signing Exact English (SEE) system was adopted as the mode of communication and instruction in SADeaf’s affiliated schools.

The Vocational School for the Handicapped saw its first graduating batch of trainees.


Mr Poh Yew Tiong initiated the Microcomputing Club for Hearing-Impaired Persons in Singapore (known aptly as Micro-CHIPS). This club was later renamed Cyberlab before its closure.


SADeaf joined the Community Chest of Singapore on 29 September.

The first International Day of the Deaf was commemorated.


SADeaf joined the World Federation of the Deaf.


The Singapore School for the Deaf opened a nursery section.

A group of Deaf persons set up the Hi! Theatre – Singapore’s Theatre of the Deaf.


The Singapore School for the Deaf was converted into a single-session school and moved from Mountbatten Road to Prince Charles Square.


The Centre for the Hearing-Impaired and the Audiological Services Clinic were set up.


The Ministry of Education started to provide full funding support for the Singapore School for the Deaf.

Hi! Theatre staged “Sign for Singapore” in primary schools to introduce sign language to about 30,000 students.

The National Pledge was first signed at the 1989 National Parade by Mr Wilson Ong Woon Sin.

1990 - 2014


The Deaf Access Committee was established. Its goal was to create awareness on the needs of the Deaf community.

A Speech Therapy Section was established at the Singapore School for the Deaf.

SADeaf celebrated its 35th Anniversary; a sign language book titled “Sign for Singapore” was launched.


The Ministry of Education commenced full funding support for the Vocational School for the Handicapped. A one-year Certificate of Competency course on Woodwork Machining Operation was introduced.

The first public forum, Breaking Barriers, was organised – Deaf Culture, methods of effective communication and sign communication were among the topics discussed.


The Singapore Association for the Deaf and Singapore School for the Deaf ventured online for the first time via internet connections.


SADeaf celebrated its 40th Anniversary. Its first website was set up.


The Social Group for the Deaf became the Sports and Recreation Committee of the Deaf (now popularly known as SCRD).

A new programme, Certificate of Vocational Training (now known as ITE Skills Certificate), was offered at the Vocational School for the Handicapped.


The Hearing Care Centre was officially opened on 6 May. The Singapore School for the Deaf officially opened its Multi-Sensory Sound Laboratory on 12 July.

SADeaf celebrated its 45th Anniversary, the occasion of which was graced by Mrs S R Nathan – the then first lady also became our Patron in the same year. (Mrs Nathan was once a teacher at the Singapore School for the Deaf.)


The first deaf-operated outlet was opened by Kentucky Fried Chicken Management Pte Ltd at Toa Payoh on 14 March, graced by Mrs S R Nathan.


The Itinerant Support Service was set up to provide learning and emotional support for deaf students in mainstream schools. It was a pilot project supported by the then Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and the National Council of Social Service.

SADeaf launched the Ambassador for the Deaf Programme in 2004 – Kentucky Fried Chicken Management Pte Ltd and Siemens Medical Instruments Pte Ltd became our first Ambassadors.


The Association broke the world record of having over 2,300 participants doing song signing simultaneously. (The previous record was held by a school in UK with 1,927 participants.)

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd became our Ambassador for the Deaf.


MediaCorp, with the support of the Media Development Authority, started subtitling its Channel 5 English news bulletin in October 2006, and also on its Channel 8 Chinese and Suria channel Malay news bulletins in December 2006.

Fraser and Neave Ltd became our Ambassador for the Deaf.


A new logo for SADeaf was launched in 2007.

AV-Science Marketing Pte Ltd joined as Ambassador for the Deaf.


In 2008, first lady Mrs S R Nathan launched a project to consolidate all services for the Deaf under one roof. Under this co-location project, the two affiliate schools and SADeaf would shared premises. This enables us to offer improved facilities and services to a wider range of deaf and multiple-disability clients.


SADeaf launched a free interpretation service for members (capped at 20 sessions annually).

A few more firsts were recorded – mostly notably, the first time the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally Speech was interpreted ‘live’ via webcast, as well as the appointment of the first resource interpreter in an Institute of Technical Education, the first course related to Deaf education, Deaf ‘’Culture and Sign Language’’, conducted by NTU in collaboration with SADeaf.

The Association also submitted its Mini Enabling Masterplan to the government, as Singapore signed the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability.


Ms Ho Ching, Chief Executive Officer of Temasek Holdings, became the patron of SADeaf.

Mr Kenny Tiang, a Deaf designer, had his design selected for a stamp issue in a Stamp Design Competition organised by Singapore Post in collaboration with SADeaf.


SADeaf won the right to host the World Federation of the Deaf Regional Secretariat in Asia (WFD RSA) Meeting in 2016. This marks the first time Singapore would be hosting the WFD RSA Meeting.