Card-access facilities not user-friendly

Using the Contactless e-Purse Application (Cepas) cards to activate facilities for seniors and people with disabilities (PWPs) has good intentions ("Tap-in to use toilet for the disabled / Malls 'will study card system access'"; last Friday).

Facilities such as traffic crossings covered by the Green Man Plus Scheme, which are activated by Cepas cards, require users - including visually impaired individuals - to own Cepas cards, have the cards with them, and retrieve, tap and return the cards to the users' pockets or handbags.

Usually, more than one tap is required to activate the sensor.

If a user has poor grip and drops the card, then he will need extra time and effort to search for and retrieve the card.

PWPs and seniors with reduced mobility usually need more time and effort than able-bodied people in performing identical tasks.

Thus, requiring them to take additional steps to use a specially designed service imposes a burden on them.

Using technology or relying on an authorising party to control entry to toilets runs the risk of blocked access due to system glitches or the absence of the authorising party.

Seniors with severely reduced mobility and who use walking aids are likely to prefer accessible toilets.

Certain users of disability toilets experience difficulty in controlling their urges and waiting for their turn ("Maximise, not curb, use of toilets for the disabled" by Mr Wong Boon Hong , and "Curbing toilet use not best solution" by Mr Chua Cheok Kwang; Forum Online, both published yesterday).

Faced with an ageing population, the authorities may wish to consider guidelines of at least two disability toilets for a floor level that attracts medium to heavy footfall or is popular with PWPs or seniors.

Activating PWP- and senior-friendly facilities with Cepas cards will deny our community the opportunity to learn to think for others and practise consideration.

Even with proper infrastructure to shape appropriate social behaviour, changing mindsets will take time.

One exception, however, could be to configure our public bus system's software to recognise Cepas cards for fare payment by vulnerable commuters and alert bus drivers to extend boarding and alighting times for them.

Tan Lay Hoon (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2015, with the headline 'Card-access facilities not user-friendly'. Print Edition | Subscribe