We thank Ms Germaine Lim for highlighting some of the accessibility challenges that persons with disabilities or mobility challenges face in public spaces due to the Covid-19 situation (Ensure lift lobbies near handicap parking spaces remain open despite Covid-19 measures, Jan 6).
To curb the spread of Covid-19, safe management measures have been implemented in public spaces to safeguard the health and well-being of Singaporeans. However, measures such as single or designated entry points, as Ms Lim pointed out, may have created barriers and frustration for persons with disabilities and the elderly with mobility challenges, as well as their caregivers.
While we laud the efforts of building owners and operators who comply with the safe management measures, more consideration could have been given to vulnerable groups during the planning and implementation of these measures.
For instance, keeping at least one entry point near handicap parking spaces or ramps installed for those with disabilities or the elderly with mobility difficulties, or putting up signs at these parking spaces to say there is no access to the lift or entry point would be sound options.
Additionally, those with developmental disabilities, visual impairments and autism spectrum disorder need time to adjust and navigate routes to these SafeEntry entrances and exits. When these considerations are factored into the planning phase, it reduces the need to change the entry points later, which would help persons with visual impairments or those on the autistic spectrum to navigate and access the routes safely and more easily.
Wheelchair users also often find themselves struggling to scan the SafeEntry QR codes or tap their SafeEntry tokens at scanners that are placed beyond their reach. For the same reason, some also struggle at unmanned self-check-in gantries.
As a caring and gracious society, we need not rely solely on the authorities to resolve all these issues.
Could safe distancing ambassadors or volunteers be deployed to assist those who need help getting to the designated entrances and exits? Members of the public can also do their part by stopping to help someone in need of assistance.
Singapore is now two years into the pandemic. We hope that with the lessons learnt in the past two years, the authorities, building owners and business operators will commit to creating better solutions and factor in more considerations for the different disability groups.
As we work together to keep the nation safe in this pandemic, we need to look out for and help all, including those with disabilities, to resume some form of normalcy through participation in community activities.
Chief Executive Officer