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Being Differently-abled in Malaysia

Although seldom discussed in this context, having a disability in Malaysia makes you a part of one of the most vulnerable minority groups in the country.

The differently-abled are at a higher risk of being marginalized, confronting stigma, discrimination and societal barriers throughout their daily lives.

In Malay, the colloquial word for someone with a disability is cacat which means ‘blemish’, ‘defect’ or ‘flaw’. These negative connotations give only an inkling to the social perception of people from the community.

One source of this stems from a misunderstanding about disability in general. A survey conducted by UNICEF about disability found that:


Said they had inadequate knowledge about disabilities in general


Blamed disability on the parents of the child, divine will or supernatural intervention.

One major concern for the differently-abled is finding employment and gaining financial independence. There is no established pathway for the differently-abled after they finish schooling. Young adults in transit between school and jobs are often largely overlooked. Only 8% of people with a disability are in the workforce in Malaysia.

For every 25 people living with a disability, only two are in the are able to find employment.

(Source: Narayanan, 'A study on challenges faced by disabled people in the workplace')




TAPAi is a part of Community Rehabilitation Program for differently-abled people where prevention, rehabilitation and development initiatives are implemented. It relies on an active involvement of families and communities in order to ensure equal opportunity and promote integration of disabled people into society.

Located in Wakaf Tapai, Terengganu, a total of 33 trainees were educated at the centre, and seven of them were actively involved in making the products, with the guidance of three teachers. Their main goal is to train and develop the skills of the differently-abled to empower them to be financially independent.

Get up-close and personal with the makers by exploring our blog posts above. Learn more about how they fostered their talents for sewing, what they like to do in their spare time and their dreams for the future.

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