Disability rights groups advocate barrier-free housing in Taipei

Asia-Pacific, August 9 2011

Taipei, Taiwan: Affordable housing units should be built with barrier-free facilities to meet the need of physically disabled people, several disability rights organizations urged yesterday in Taipei.

During a press conference held yesterday in the Legislative Yuan, opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying said the government has recently concluded the bidding process for builders to construct affordable housing in Linkou District. The construction is expected to officially begin at the year-end.

However, according to the current government’s proposal, only 10 percent of all such house units are designed with barrier-free concepts to benefit physically disabled people, Huang said.

“It is hard for others to understand who difficult it is for wheelchair users like us to live in a house without designs to help disabled people,” said Tang Feng-chen, chairman of Foundation of Universal Design Education (FUDE) yesterday in the same press conference.

Government should have thought to make affordable housing suitable for disabled residents since the policy was first raised to help underprivileged households in protect their residency right, Tang noted.

Tang said that government’s carelessness has already inconvenienced disabled residents in the permanent housing units at central Taiwan’s Nantou County that were built for victims of Typhoon Morakot.

A wheelchair user elderly woman who lived in the unit was unable to move freely in her own house simply because it was built without barrier-free design, he said.

It is not difficult or costly to create an accessible environment for physically disabled people, he said. For instance, building a restroom with a sliding door can fix one problem easily, he said.

Introducing so-called “universal design” to buildings will offer a user-friendly environment to everyone.

Therefore, Huang and Tang both urged the government-proposed housing should be built with such design.

In response to the suggestions, Chen Shu-chuan, a deputy section chief of the Construction and Planning Agency under the Ministry of Interior, said the opinion raised by physically disabled people groups will be highly valued and will be forward to construction companies.

Source: http://www.chinapost.com.tw

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