Friday, July 17, 2009

MADD reviews for Jalan Gasing pavement - malaysiakini

Disable friendly PJ pavement gets positively 'Madd' reviews
Emily Chow
Jul 16, 09
Efforts by the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to turn the pavement along Jalan Gasing disabled friendly was lauded by a coalition of NGOs calling themselves Malaysians Against the Discrimination of the Disabled (Madd) today.

Madd has been advocating the rights and the needs of disabled people in Malaysia since 2007.

Present at today's gathering organised by Madd were a group of activists from several NGOs including the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (PETPOSITIVE), Independent Living and Training Centre, Pewira K9 and the Malaysian Association for the Blind.

"The purpose of this (gathering) is to show the public that we are here, as most people are still in denial about disabled people," said Anthony Thanasayan (left), PETPOSITIVE president.

"We also 'stand' together to support the MBPJ for what they have done (in rebuilding the pavement). We applaud them." he said.

Anthony was also a former MBPJ councillor.

"I raised the issue of making the pavement (along Jalan Gasing) more disabled friendly back then, and the construction of a 'universal design pavement' by MBPJ began a year ago." Anthony said.

The pavement stretches for about 500 meters from the row of shops along Jalan Gasing to the nearby Thai temple.

The pavement is still undergoing construction but is estimated to be completed iwithin two months.

Universal design pavement

Anthony later explained to reporters the characteristics of a 'universal design pavement' used by the MBPJ:

  • has guiding blocks for the blind so they can walk about independently

  • made for people in wheelchairs with the slightest of gradients as possible

  • void of obstacles, including lamp posts and post boxes
"It is a pavement that is for everyone to use, not just the disabled. Everybody includes the able- bodied, the disabled, mothers with prams, pregnant women, children and the elderly," he said.

Anthony also brought up the issue of criticism levelled at the pavement project which was said to be too costly and estimated at RM180,000.

"They (the public) asked 'Where are the blind? How many blind use this?' The public is still going through a process of denial as they are afraid to admit these disabilities exist.

"It's time for the public and our government to stop giving excuses and start addressing this issue. We demand today that they (MBPJ and all the other local councils) start making disabled friendly pavements instead of feeling sorry for us," said Anthony.

"It doesn't help us at all, it just destroys us. Stop this attitude of charity. Treat us like equal people, for we also want to have a right to go out." he added.

Finally, a start

After speaking to reporters, the group of activists then 'wheeled' their way down the disabled friendly pavement.

Gurdip Kaur Rina, a former Selayang district councillor and activist Antony Leopold from PETPOSITIVE praised the project as it is said to be the first such sidewalk in the country with this universal design.

"It's a good start that we are all here, and we hope that the other councils will take this as an example. We do this to highlight to the government that they have to include this type of facility for the disabled." said Rina.

"The city should be accessible to everyone so this should apply to every area in PJ to make it barrier free (for everyone)," added Antony.

Although this pavement may seem like a small measure in recognising the needs of the disabled, Anthony is confident the future looks good.

"Finally, we are moving in the right direction where we can finally address the real problems of the disabled. (With disabled friendly facilities,) we can take part in normal life," he said.PET+BLOGSPOT is the official online blog of the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (Petpositive).

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