Thursday, September 28, 2006

Our Disabled finally getting their fair share!

1. BCA looking at steps to make all buildings in S'pore barrier-free

By Noor Mohd Aziz, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 25 September 2006 1642 hrs

Good news for those who find going up and down steps a challenge.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is looking at measures to make all buildings in Singapore barrier-free.

For a start, it is setting its sights on buildings in Orchard Road, Bras Basah and Shenton Way (Read on...)

2. All public buses to be wheelchair-friendly by 2023

By Valarie Tan, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 15 February 2006 2049 hrs

SINGAPORE : Singapore has rolled out its first wheelchair-friendly bus.

This follows a recent report by the Committee on Aging Issues calling for a more elder-friendly public transport system.

The government is funding the $21 million required to make sure all public buses are wheelchair-accessible by 2023.

It is part of some $172 million it will be spending over the long-term to make Singapore's land transport infrastructure and system more accessible and user-friendly. (Read on...)

3. MediaCorp rolls out real-time subtitling for news bulletins

By Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 27 September 2006 1717 hrs

SINGAPORE : Local TV news will be making history next Monday when MediaCorp introduces real-time subtitling for its news bulletins. (Read on...)


Dear friends,

I am quietly pleased that finally, the disabled and disadvantaged are getting the attention that they deserve. It seemed not too long ago ( I think in parliament) when some government minister was defending the policy of why it was not feasible to make all MRT stations handicap-friendly!

I am not going to deliver a harangue to the authorities about why it took such a looong time for our disabled to be able to share basic amenities that most of us have always taken for granted. I am just glad that our friends in wheelchairs or crutches will now be able to board a bus and then proceed into a building without any fuss. The hearing-impaired will of course benefit from subtitling of more TV programmes.

How our society treats its most disadvantaged and helpless, is a reflection of how much Singapore treasures its citizens. It should care for all of us, not just because we add value to the nation’s GDP. It is the duty of the government. Period.

I cannot resist a jibe at the government here. All citizens, no matter who they vote for should be accorded equal rights and benefits. For this, I continue to object to discriminatory policies like the “upgrading for votes” policy.

Ironically, sometimes it seems easier to convince the government to cater for the needs of our disadvantaged than to get Singaporeans to treat the disabled with empathy and patience. I was particularly disgusted by comments in the forum pages about how much inconvenience the wheel-chair loading buses have caused other commuters. Some of them were even late for work!

How uncaring can we be?

Let us continue to look out for blind-spots (no pun intended) where government policies can be improved upon and if need be, let us be the thorn in the flesh or a pain in the ass, till all members of our nation get equitable treatment.

Who knows, the people in power, who are pulling all the strings may be masochists who actually enjoy getting ranted at or having polemics and tirades thrown at them!

Cheers

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

yes, it had been a long long time...in coming....
Real time subtitles for news broadcast...right immediately after PM lee said that media corp will look into it and see how it can implemented...is it really that complicated...to provide real time subititles in the first place... is it so technologically -challenged..and cost so much money to implement it in the first place..?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi
Our battle is not with politicians alone but also with bureaucrats.
Unfortunately, many bureaucrats of the old school appear to respond only to their political masters ( the truth and no insult intended). My impression is that public policy is becoming increasingly more enlightened and more responsive to societal needs, but usually they still need some "arm-twisting."
Dr.H

Anonymous said...

Dr. H: My impression is that public policy is becoming increasingly more enlightened and more responsive to societal needs...

Call me cynical but I really doubt it. How long does it take for gahmen to decide to spend S$135 million on a 2 week event for foreigners? How long did it take for gahmen to finally decide to spend S$172 million (not to forget it shall be spread over many years until 2023) for the disabled/elderly?

Pure speculation here: One wonder if perhaps some of those foreigners enjoying the S$135 million this month, being older and enjoyed disable/elderly friendly environs back-home, remarked how unfriendly Singapore is to disabled/elderly. Then it finally occured to gahmen that "yes, if we make our transport etc more friendly to disabled/elderly tourists, we can reap more tourist $$$". That locals get to benefit is only a side effect, just see the selection of priority sites... all tourists/foreigners areas. HDB heartlanders who have trouble even getting out of their estate will have to wait years for their turn, even if they voted for the PAPpies. Our gahmen has habit of bowing only to perceived financial payoffs from foreign interests.

Anonymous said...

Finally, our voices are heard! As you have said, we should continue to work towards a truely inclusive nation.

Jerry Siah

nofearSingapore said...

Hi
anon: 12.38pm
It is good to be skeptical and ( a little) cynical. So long as the gahmen return something back to the folks ( esply the disabled), I don't really care what is their motivation. Even if it is on the advice of ang-moh's it is ok by me!

Jerry: Keep up your good work with the physically challenged ( which I think is a more political-correct term nowadays! Congrats on your recent project!

Dr.H

Gerald said...

Doc,

I agree it's about time. But let's not think that this is the be all and end all of making our country completely accessible to all people with disabilities. There's lots more we can do, not just in terms of physically accessiblity, but in education, employment, etc.

I recall attending one of those "dialogue" sessions with top govt leaders just a few years back. One disabled participant asked the govt leader (I'm not going to say who!) why buses can't be made wheelchair accessible. The response from the leader was that it is very expensive to implement that, and if disabled people want to get around, they can always take a taxi!

Anonymous said...

Money is always their main concern. Sign language in news broadcast was done by Malaysia years ago,while it was not as rich as Singapore.

Blueheeler - the dog that sniffs out fishy news said...

I have actually though about this a lot. Even if the wheelchair-bound can get around in buildings/ onto buses/MRT, they will STILL be faced with obstacles when they try to wheel themselves onto a pedestrain walkway. Just look out the window to see how unevenly paved our pedestrian walkways are! LTA should make sure that such walkways are wheelchair/pram friendly

nofearSingapore said...

Hi blueheeler,
..but it is a good start.
We can get them to sort out the other barriers later.
The first barrier ( mental ) is the most difficult one. The others are not insurmountable.
Cheers

Dr.H

Media Movers said...

Its good initiative by the Singapore government.
Most Scandivian countries prefer subtitling over dubbing but now it is most preferred also for Deaf community.Same language subtitling(SLS) is one of essential way to educate people.
Lawrence Vishnu
CEO
Media Movers, Inc.

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