Wednesday, July 28

ENABLING the disabled

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Enhancing the mobility of ‘special needs’ people by providing the necessary facilities to help them move around hassle-free

THERE is still a lot to be desired when it comes to caring for the disabled.

For the service providers, much remains to be done to help ‘special needs’ people lead a normal life.

Whether from the public or private sector, the service providers should be sensitive to the plight of the disabled, the handicapped and the disadvantaged, and adopt a holistic approach to help them assimilate into society.

thesundaypost recently spoke to the secretary of the Sarawak Society for the Disabled Francis Johen Adam who shared information on problems faced by the disabled.

According to him, the main issue is mobility or the availability of the mode of transport to help people with special needs move around in a convenient and safe manner.

“This is very true, especially of people who fall under the category of physical disability or ‘cacat anggota’. For this group, mobility has become an important priority,” he said.

“Like normal people without transport, they cannot leave their homes, go to their workplaces, shops or government offices for welfare assistance or even schools.

“That was why in the past, many of them did not go out and people got the wrong idea that there were not many disabled people around – which, in itself, has become one of the issues.”

However, Francis pointed out that even if the disabled were “very mobile” these days, they still faced problems since public transport in Malaysia, particularly Sarawak, is virtually inaccessible, especially to those using wheelchairs and crutches.

INCONSIDERATE: A concrete ramp with metal railings enables the disabled to get into a commercial building but in this case, access is blocked by a car.

So for the disabled to have greater mobility, they needed a modified motorcycle or car, he noted.

According to him, despite their disabilities, some could afford their own vehicles (with some modifications).

“These days, more physically disabled people are independent and employed or having small businesses and some can also afford their own transport – like modified cars or motorcycles.”

As such, he hoped proper parking bays could be reserved for them, especially at public places, saying this was the responsibility of the service providers from the local councils or authorities.

“We are happy to note that Kuching North City Commission (DBKU), Kuching City South Council (MBKS), Miri City Council and Sibu Municipal Council do reserve parking lots for the disabled.”

Even so, he pointed out, some able-bodied motorists would still park their cars at parking bays meant for the disabled on the pretext that they did not see the signates.

To avoid this, Francis proposed putting up more prominent signages to indicate the parking bays reserved for the disabled instead of merely painting wheelchair symbols on the parking bays like what is being done now.

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