Inclusion in the Built Environment: Malaysia

From The Star, Malaysia:

Life isn't easy, especially when you're confined to a wheelchair, or have difficulty getting around because of poor eyesight.

Imagine not being able to enter a building or even work because of these handicaps.

That's why buildings must have the proper facilities be as accessible as possible to help those with disabilities get around easier.

Organised by the Department of Standards Malaysia, KAED Universal Design Unit of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and Kuching North City Hall (DBKU), the "Access Audit in the Built Environment Seminar" aims to do just that.

Held over a two-day period at the Sarawak Tourism Complex, the seminar attracted prominent developers and architects from around the state who, together with the KAED unit, are working together to make buildings around Malaysia more accessible to the handicapped and people with disabilities (PWDs).

"PWDs can be divided into four categories: those confined to a wheelchair, the vision impaired, the hearing impaired and those who require a walking aid to move around," said KAED Deputy Dean Professor Asiah Abdul Rahim, who presided over the seminar.

"It is crucial that these people, who deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect and care just like you and me get the proper facilities and attention when it comes to accessibility.

"The objective of this seminar is to raise awareness of builders, developers and architects when it comes to designing and drawing up plans and tailoring them to help meet the needs of PWDs," she explained.

Out of 16 case studies carried out by the university, only 25% of the buildings involved were found to have proper accessibility facilities for PWDs.

"I believe that to achieve Vision 2020, we need to make sure the connectivity of buildings and architecture around the country meets the international standards.

"To do that, more PWD friendly design plans must be approved before being finalised and built. Thankfully, the response from our participants has been really supportive and many are looking into ways to implement better accessibility and connectivity into their construction designs," she added.

"Not only that, but also receptionists, general workers and security guards must be properly trained and instructed on how to deal with PWDs."

Over 80 participants, including many of those who are disabled took part in the seminar from Dec 19 to 20.

"From here, we will hopefully carry out many more seminars like this to raise awareness around the country."

Prof. Asiah will be travelling to the United States soon to meet many like-minded researchers and architects to discuss and develop better ways to make buildings more accessible to those with disabilities.


Source:

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/12/22/sarawak/10141226&sec=sarawak


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