Thursday, March 29, 2012

Accessibility Code for new buildings under review

SINGAPORE : New buildings in Singapore will soon be required to go beyond creating a barrier-free environment, and be fitted with more universal design features.

This is aimed at making buildings accessible and user-friendly for visitors of all ages.

Such features could include nursing rooms and smaller sized toilet facilities for children.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is currently reviewing the Accessibility Code, which applies to new buildings and those undergoing major renovation works.

The review is expected to be completed at the end of this year.

Accessibility in buildings has improved over the years, following a concerted effort by the government to push for a barrier-free environment.

Currently, almost all public buildings have achieved basic accessibility.

This includes having an accessible entrance, ease at navigating the first floor, and toilets for the handicapped.

Nearly nine in 10 buildings along Singapore's premier shopping belt, Orchard Road, have also achieved basic accessibility - twice that in 2006.

However, BCA faces challenges in getting existing private building owners to come on board, said its CEO, John Keung.

He said: "Cost is one concern, and of course, there could be disruption when you are doing your upgrading work. But we are talking to the industry, talking to building owners that while these are real concerns - cost and impact on operation - we also need to look from a longer-term perspective. If you make a building more accessible, it can also widen your catch of customers."

BCA launched a S$40 million Accessibility Fund in 2007 to encourage private building owners to upgrade.

To date, only S$6 million has been disbursed, with another S$2.5 million worth of grants being processed.

BCA said it has extended the fund for another five years till 2016, to encourage more private buildings owners to come onboard.

View the original article here

Source From Channel News Asia

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