New fittings to ease way for SAVH members

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong (centre, white shirt) and BCA chief executive John Keung (third from right, in red) checking out the newly installed tactile ground panels at the SAVH compound yesterday.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong (centre, white shirt) and BCA chief executive John Keung (third from right, in red) checking out the newly installed tactile ground panels at the SAVH compound yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) is installing new fittings to help its members and staff move about its Toa Payoh Rise compound more easily.

They include Braille signs on railings and tactile panels - textured surfaces on the ground - to help with navigation.

The improvement works, which include drain and toilet repairs and building of ramps, are part of corporate social responsibility efforts by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Singapore Contractors Association (Scal).

The collaboration between BCA and Scal began in 2013.

It has seen $80,800 in repair works, paid by Scal member firms and sponsors, carried out at SAVH to date.

Five construction firms and close to 100 contractors and BCA volunteers are taking part this year.

BCA chief executive officer John Keung said: "You cannot have an inclusive society without an inclusive built environment that everybody can enjoy."

Blind SAVH staff member Edwin Khoo, 39, who helped to transcribe the Braille signs, said: "They allow me to get from one point to another with more confidence.

"That way I know where I am, and I won't get lost."

Scal president Kenneth Loo added that such a social cause comes naturally to those in his industry.

"We are in the construction business, so we have the network and the resources to contribute," said Mr Loo, who is director of Straits Construction. "We know that universal design would really help SAVH, so why not?"

Yesterday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong joined BCA and Scal volunteers in installing tactile ground panels and Braille signs on railings around the SAVH compound.

Mr Wong said these works are timely in view of Singapore hosting next week's Asean Para Games: "This is part of what we want to be in Singapore - a more inclusive society for Singaporeans of all abilities."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2015, with the headline 'New fittings to ease way for SAVH members'. Print Edition | Subscribe