Straits Times Forum, 27 March 2014 (print edition)
THE Disabled People’s Association strongly supports the Building and Construction Authority’s new accessibility code (“Do wider corridors make sense for private projects?”; last Saturday).
Some developers have opined that wider corridors would benefit HDB dwellers and retirement-style residences more, but could be “a waste of space” in private condominiums, where heavy wheelchair traffic is “unlikely”.
Such reasoning does not stand up to scrutiny.
Generally, there is no heavy wheelchair traffic in HDB estates, hotels, malls and other public places. Yet, we rightly have mandatory guidelines on having ramps, accessible toilets and parking spaces, and wide corridors at these buildings and venues.
Such a move explicitly recognises the right of people with physical disabilities and wheelchair users to full and equal access to these places, in line with Singapore’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The fact that they are a minority group does not in any way mean they are entitled to less.
Wheelchair users, who are not only or always older people, are potential buyers of private condominium units as well. To argue that wider corridors are unnecessary discriminates against them as well as visitors who are wheelchair users.
Lastly, let us also think of other groups and situations where wider corridors would be a practical boon, such as older people with walking frames who may need caregivers alongside them, families which use strollers that accommodate two infants, and during emergencies such as fires and medical evacuations.
Disabled People’s Association