Review programme to make things easier for the disabled

I am a wheelchair-bound polio victim and was hospitalised in late July for a month after a stroke ("Helping seniors get around with Ease"; Dec 25).

During my recovery at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, the occupational therapist applied for grab bars for my toilets under the Housing Board's Enhancement for Active Seniors (Ease) programme, and made a specific request for flip-up horizontal U bars to be fitted.

To my surprise, the HDB does not provide these bars. Instead, it provides only fixed mounted horizontal U bars, which are not practical in an HDB toilet, as they impede movement.

The space constraints and these fixed bars make it practically impossible for a person in a wheelchair to access the toilet from the side.

A flip-up horizontal U bar would be better, as it can be lifted up when not in use or when manoeuvring a wheelchair in the toilet.

The Building and Construction Authority has stipulated that a flip-up grab bar should be installed in toilets for the disabled. A search of companies dealing with mobility aids also did not turn up any fixed mounted horizontal U bars; only flip-up bars were on sale.

Continuing to provide fixed mounted horizontal bars is a waste of funds. It is a lesson in futility to provide equipment that cannot enhance the independence, safety and well-being of those in wheelchairs.

With a fast-ageing population in Singapore, I hope the HDB can review the Ease programme to provide barrier-free access to those who need it.

Yeo Beng Hua