Monday, March 09, 2015

Good Move For The Disabled By MBSA

Fine tuning disabled transport

Anthony SB Thanasayan

Anthony SB Thanasayan is a wheelchair user who is powered by his service dogs who help him stay on top of life. He is president of Malaysia's first and only animal-assisted therapy society called Petpositive.

It was sweet music to the ears of residents with disabilities in Shah Alam, Selangor, when a local daily last week reported that the City Council (MBSA) is now providing free transport services for handicapped people.
No one jumped for joy at the news more than persons with physical and walking disabilities, whom this facility is all about.
The services, provided by two vehicles, is now said to be running on weekdays from 8am until 5pm.

It is given free of charge, enabling and ensuring most disabled people can have unimpeded access to them – whether or not they are employed or can afford it. 
This is certainly money put to good use. The MBSA deserves high praise for such a move.
By doing so, it successfully places itself among the ranks of being the second local council in the state and nation (next to the Petaling Jaya City Council or MBPJ) – to provide such a facility in the city.
This unique service will effectively reach out further, and deeper into the disabled community to serve those who desperately require it.
I'm referring to profoundly disabled persons who are virtually stuck to their beds and can't get out of their homes.
They find it more difficult to do physical transfers, and thus are unable to use conventional transport like cars and taxis to get around.
The van which MBSA provides is an excellent alternative.
It is able to take them in, complete with them sitting in their wheelchairs. They get in on a special built-in lift from the back of the vehicle. No need for abandoning their wheelchairs and shifting their bodies onto the van's seats are required.
Having said all this though, in order to make their services top class to its handicapped users, MBSA needs to look into the following.
  • Prevent abuse and promote education: Ensure that the van service is being used by the poor and not the rich. Domination by the rich who often have alternative means of transport defeats the purpose of a van service to help the needy.
    MBSA should conduct publicity of the van's services in all the poor areas of Shah Alam. Leaflets in a variety of languages should be distributed to the various communities and NGOs helping them. Even passing them on to mosques, churches, temples, hospitals and clinics is a good idea in making sure the message is spread out to as many people as possible.
    The best approach is to be able to speak to the disabled directly. However, this is not easy as many of them seldom come out, thinking that "their lot in life" is to "stay away" from the public eye. Some disabled people I know simply refuse to use the facility thinking that they should leave it for other "more deserving cases" who need them. These people need to be educated that using the van is their right.
  • Education for van drivers: Be sure to select the right drivers; and not anyone for the job. They must be gentle and kind and with heaps of patience. They must also be sensitive to the needs of the disabled.
    Turning up on time at the disabled person's homes and venues is a must. Waiting and extra five minutes or so, is divine on the driver's part.
    Drivers need a basic course on what disabilities are. Put them in a wheelchair or on crutches and drive them around for a week in order to let them know what the experience feels like. Invite wheelchair users who are qualified to do the training.
    Be sure to recognise the work that these special van drivers do – and never forget to reward them from time to time.
    Having said that, there must be a confidential number for disabled people to call and complain – if they are mistreated. Complaints must be taken seriously.
  • Safety a top priority: Wheelchairs must be strapped at all times with the provided four safety belts for each wheel. They must be fastened securely at all times, even though a trip may sometimes last a few minutes. In addition to wheelchair belts, a safety belt for the disabled person must also be fastened. (A friend of mine died in an accident when she was thrown out of her wheelchair because the driver had not put on the safety belt to secure her in her electric wheelchair.)
    Disabled vans should never speed on the road when there are disabled people in them. Great care on balance of the disabled person should be taken when taking a corner or riding over bumps. Prompt action should be taken against drivers that violate this. Appropriate grab bars should be placed in strategic points for passengers with disabilities to hold onto for safety. Old ones should be promptly replaced.
To find out more about MBSA's van service, please call: 03-5522 2735. – March 9, 2015.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
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