New Straits Times Press Letters 2007/12/10
Disabled people: Little done to help them access facilities, transport.
By Captain Abdul Karim Stuart Russell For Access and Inclusion for the Disabled, Kuala Lumpur. (Pix by aNt)
THE International Day of Disabled Persons on Dec 3 was yet another wonderful opportunity to promote understanding and increase public awareness of disability issues, and to promulgate the importance of integration and the well-being of people with disabilities.
However, here in Malaysia, one year after Access and Inclusion for the Disabled (AID) wrote a letter regarding the 2006 International Day of Disabled Persons, nothing of any substance has changed. Consider, for example, the issue of disabled-friendly public transport facilities and buildings.
Accessibility to the majority of facilities, such as buildings, public transport, footpaths and road crossings, even some of those that were recently set up, is not possible since they have not been properly designed to make them usable by everyone.
Universal access to buildings is still a novelty and is by no means universally available. Some buildings built in the past 12 months are totally inaccessible to people in wheelchairs.
RapidKL even introduced so-called disabled-accessible buses, but these vehicles have been designed incorrectly, so that the area designed to accommodate two persons using wheelchairs occupies almost half of the available floor space, and there are only two seats in this half of the bus.
In Penang, the situation is worse because the new RapidPenang buses are universally inaccessible.
Over the past 18 months, AID has been meeting regularly to discuss the routing and accessibility options for the Penang monorail with Melewar Integrated Engineering and we are confident that they have addressed the requirements of the disabled within their monorail design.
We sincerely hope that whichever company constructs the Penang Monorail will ensure that the monorail system is accessible to all, and that the routing and stops will serve all the people who live along its route.
Most pavements are still not accessible to persons using wheelchairs, the blind, and the elderly. There are sometimes ramps of sorts, but more often than not, they are too steep or the kerbs are too high, there are obstructions on pavements, such as lamp posts, sign posts, non-flush manholes, etc.
Tactile markings for the blind are sometimes installed, though some of these do not follow required specifications. We observed recently, in Kuala Lumpur, a new pavement 1.2m wide where the tactile markings turned 90 degrees left to within few centimetres of a wall, then 90 degrees right, 90 degrees right again and finally 90 degrees left. All this go around a grating 60 sq cm.
Click HERE for Karim's letter in Malaysiakini.
PET+BLOGSPOT NOTE: Captain Karim is Adviser to PETPOSITIVE and also Secretary for the Support Group Society for the Blind of Malaysia or Supporteam. Both societies are based in Kuala Lumpur.