National Development Minister, Lawrence Wong has said that the government will issue new mandatory requirements on barrier-free accessibility upgrades to existing buildings, starting next year, in order to accommodate wheelchair users and others with disabilities. This was said on Tuesday (July 26) at the launch of the Singapore Universal Design Week 2016.
Mr Wong said that when undergo addition and alteration (A&A) works, public buildings, such as schools, offices, universities, community clubs, shopping centers, markets and food centers, must abide by new rules, which will regulate the buildings to have barrier-free entrance, either with ramp, stair-lift or platform lift, and they should have at least on accessible toilet.
Newer buildings, which was made after the year of 1990, have applied this arrangement. The design of these buildings meets the needs of all users. But those of which was made before this year have not met the standards.
Mr Wong stated that at this moment, one in four buildings here are still not accessible for people with disabilities and this is particularly so for private sector buildings where there is scope for improvements.
“We need to accelerate the progress of our accessibility improvements for existing infrastructure and for existing buildings,” he said.
The Buildings and Construction Authority (BCA) will expand $40 million Accessibility Fund for the next five years. The scope of this fund will be extended, such as braille signages for those with visual impair and it will allow two applications for each buildings’ development.
BCA CEO, Jon Keung, said, “With these improvements to the Accessibility Fund, our objective is to encourage owners to plan gradual improvements to the buildings’ accessibility that are in line with their maintenance and A&A cycles. We hope that the fund and the additional requirements will put us one step closer to fulfilling our goal of having 70 per cent commercial and industrial buildings in Singapore barrier-free by 2030.”
“These requirements will compel us — including the industry — to plan ahead on how our living environment can meet all the needs of all Singaporeans,” he added. “This is not just about improving the accessibility of our buildings but also concerns the employability, social mobility and convenience of everyone,” he added.