Lack of disability facilities reflects on public policy

Ramlan (not his full name) who is ?physically challenged lamented that he often cannot get into banks or?restaurants as they do not provide the basic amenities for disabled people.

“Whenever I need to perform transactions at the bank counters or decide to?dine with my family in restaurants, I would be faced with difficulties as these?establishments do not have facilities like wheel ramps, lifts or proper hand?rails for the disabled people,” said Ramlan.

Ramlan also said he had difficulties in withdrawing cash from the Automated?Teller Machines (ATMs).

“Most of the ATMs are located in buildings and petrol stations. It is?difficult to get into these buildings as they are not disabled-friendly”, said?Ramlan who is a polio victim and wheelchair-bound.

This is the case for many disabled people in the country. Many banks and?restaurants are not disabled-friendly.

K.Muthu, whose right leg was amputated because of a road crash, said he is?reluctant to go for a vacation at tourist destinations in the country as most?hotels do not have facilities for the physically challenged.

“A few may have facilities like alleys for those on wheelchair but what?about the shower room.

“I find it difficult to use the toilet (in hotels), hence I refrain from?going for vacations and prefer to stay home”, he said.

Muthu said despite the presence of the Persons With Disabilities Act, many?banks and restaurants as well as hotels do not provide the basic amenities like?ramps, ramps with entrance, proper signage and lifts as well as toilets for the?disabled.

“Some of the hotels at renowned tourist destinations in the country even do?not have elevators. So how can people like me go for holidays”,he said.

The Persons With Disabilities Act (PWD Act) was passed in Parliament on Dec?24 in 2007 and was gazetted on Jan 24, 2008. The Act came into force on July 7?in 2008.

According to lawyers, many disabled people have been complaining that the?PWD Act 2008 is purely an administrative Act and toothless as there are no?punitive measures for non-compliance or acts of discrimination.

A restaurant owner in Rawang, Ismail Kassim said: “I am not aware of the law?on that and anyhow my restaurant is located in an old building so it is?impossible to make the necessary renovations for it to be friendly for the?disabled.

He said many of the buildings that have restaurants and banks as well as?hotels were built more than 10 years ago when the PWD Act had yet to be gazetted?and came into force.

Another restaurant owner, in Kota Damansara, who wished to be known as?Vijay, said his restaurant has a ground floor seating arrangements for the?disabled and when any handicapped person visits the restaurant, his workers?would render assistance to the person.

“However we only occassionally receive disabled customers but when they come?we will provide assistance. We try to help them as much as we can,” he said,?adding that the absence of facilities for the handicapped may have deterred them?from visiting his restaurant.

There is no clear regulations which spelled out that buildings should have?facilities for the handicapped and it is for this reason that many public and?private buildings do not have amenities for the physically challenged.

– Bernama