KUCHING: Building designers and authorities who issue occupation permits (OPs) should put themselves in the shoes of persons with disabilities (OKU) when it comes to accessibility in terms of infrastructure and facilities.
“If the infrastructure and facilities do not cater to the needs of OKU, then they will lead a very different kind of life compared to a person without disabilities.
“They would become even further disabled because of the absence of facilities which would enable them to enjoy the basic daily activities that a normal person can enjoy,” said Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.
She said the Building Ordinance actually stated the need to include OKU-friendly components such as OKU toilets and ramps.
“However, if we look at it in terms of implementation, sometimes this is not complied with,” she said when officiating at the OKU Empowerment Workshop on ‘Accessibility for Physical Disabled Community’ here on Friday (Jan 21).
Fatimah said while some buildings now provided ramps for those using wheelchairs, others still lacked this facility.
Even for persons without disabilities, they would also slowly but surely lose some of their abilities like sight as they aged.
“We hope that it won’t have to reach this stage for people to realise the needs of the OKU community. Action needs to be taken from now on and we need everybody to champion this,” she said.
The minister hoped that through this OKU Empowerment Workshop, the voices, aspirations, and needs of the OKU would be heard, so that the necessary changes could be implemented.
She said the needs of the OKU community should be included in policies, such as those related to the building and hiring of employees.
“It should not just be on paper; what is important is that these must be implemented,” she stressed.
Fatimah said all the relevant parties – including OKU associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as government departments and agencies – would have to look further into various aspects to enhance support for the OKU community.
“For instance, we have parking facilities specifically for OKU. However, apart from this, OKU have expressed the need for such facilities to be provided for those that drive them, because some of them are relying on others.
“We need to look further into things like this – little things matter,” she said.
She said this was why she was urging everyone to begin this year with togetherness to progress towards a better outcome for the OKU community.
“We should all work in unison to create awareness and march forward to provide better accessibility not only in terms of infrastructure but all factors which are needed along the whole life of an OKU individual,” she added.
This was a big step towards achieving social inclusiveness for the wellbeing of all.
At the event, Fatimah also launched Wishesland president Chi Poh Yung’s book entitled ‘Be Rich with Purpose’.