Wider corridors not ‘waste of space’

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.

Nicholas Aw
President
Disabled People’s Association

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3 comments

  1. “Nothing about us without us – Nihil de nobis, sine nobis.” The designing and planning of facilities and support programmes etc to help people with disabilities should be done in consultation with the very people who will be using these facilities and programmes. Textbook understanding is at best second hand knowledge, and most often than not, ignorance and simple lack of empathy takes over. I support DPA’s efforts to educate and advocate for the rights of the disabled community to be heard and taken seriously. As for wider corridors, how would wider corridors (or spaces) be detrimental to anyone using them, regardless of disability? It is essential that wider corridors are in place, for better access and even in cases of emergencies. Our population is also aging. Nobody knows when or if they may someday need to use a wheelchair, and the larger electric ones offer a measure of independence that many of us would appreciate if and when the time comes.

    1. Fully agreed.

      It’s simply short-sighted and a sign of short-term-ism to only think about costs now. In the long run, it will be more costly to retrofit or make adjustments.

      Our initially wheelchair inaccessible MRT system is a case in point. If it had gone fully accessible from the beginning, the extra costs, time and inconvenience in retrofitting all the stations would have been avoided.

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