Accessibility in the Built Environment
Accessibility in the built environment is increasingly relevant to Singapore as we expect the number of people with mobility difficulties to increase over the years.
To prepare for the ageing population, the government is working towards a successful "ageing in place" lifestyle and accessibility is identified as one of the key enablers. An accessible built environment allows our elders to maintain essential links to family, friends and the wider community. It enables them to maintain their independence and is an important driver for a more inclusive society. Hence, a key thrust of MND and BCA is to champion a promotion programme for enhancing the level of accessibility in Singapore.
The Accessibility Fund
BCA noticed that accessibility in buildings had improved considerably since the implementation of the Code on Barrier-Free Accessibility in Buildings 1990. However, there remains a large stock of pre-1990 buildings that are still “inaccessible”. A 10-year Barrier-Free Accessibility (BFA) Upgrading Programme (2007-2016) has been put in place to support the upgrading of existing buildings.
To encourage private sector participation, a $40-million Accessibility Fund is set aside to upgrade buildings built before 1990 which are not BFA compliant. The Fund is also used to upgrade all key areas and essential facilities in Singapore to provide at least basic accessibility by 2020.
List of Accessible Buildings
For accessible buildings which are frequented by the public, BCA has published a list of such buildings to help users with accessibility difficulties. Persons with disabilities are able to access and move freely within these buildings. This list which also contains information on the BFA features like: lift, carparking lots, accessible toilets will be continually updated with more accessible buildings been audited by BCA.
Besides being a useful reference for users, the list will also serve as an encouragement to building owners to improve their buildings voluntarily to make them more accessible for all users.
Universal Design for Built Environment
Universal Design (UD), in the broadest term, is “design for all people”. It seeks to create an environment addressing the needs for all age groups and people of different abilities including temporary disability. The move towards universal design has developed due to the expanding population of people with varying degree of abilities and advancing years, their demands for recognition and desire for independent living.
To address these needs, BCA introduced a Universal Design Guide in October 2007 that provides a complete set of guidelines for adoption in all building designs. A Universal Design Guide for Public Places was published in 2016 to update and provide good practices guidelineson the designs of the built environment to make it safe and accessible to everyone - the young, the old and persons with different disabilities.
The annual Universal Design Mark Award launched in early 2012 serves to give recognition to good practices and special efforts taken by building owners and consultants in implementing UD features, over and beyond the mandatory requirements as specified in the Code on Barrier-Free Accessibility. Nominations for the annual Award would be in October of the year.
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