Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Revised code to make buildings more accessible

The Straits Times  |  APRIL 02, 2013
They will be more family-friendly and convenient for the disabled and elderly

Mothers with babies may be given space to breastfeed in all large malls and sports complexes under proposed changes to the building code that aim to make them more family-friendly.

The dedicated nursing rooms - which would be compulsory - are among a slew of planned revisions designed to make public places more accessible and inclusive.

Others include increasing the number of toilets for the disabled and installing special sound systems for the hard of hearing.

The changes will apply to new large buildings that are accessible to the public, and existing ones undergoing major renovations. They aim to cater for an ageing population and support Singapore's pro-family policies, said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said most buildings already have some level of accessibility but there is always room for improvement. "We would like to incorporate more universal design features in the built environment to make it more convenient for people of all ages and with different needs to move around," he wrote on his blog.

At the moment, buildings such as malls, sports complexes, transport interchanges and community clubs are not required by law to have family-friendly facilities.

If the revisions go through, they will need to include a nursing room, at least one family parking space and a diaper-changing station per floor.

One in every five toilet cubicles will need to have grab bars for the elderly and disabled, while new buildings such as residential developments, hotels and offices will need 1.5m-wide footpaths, up from 1.2m now. Corridors at universities, hawker centres, restaurants and nursing homes will have to be at least 1.8m wide.

Hotels will also need to make sure one in every 100 rooms has wider spaces for the disabled, up from one in every 200 now.

Other measures include making sound systems for the hearing-impaired compulsory in buildings with function rooms, halls and auditoriums, and Braille and other tactile information in toilet signs and at staircases and ramps.

The revisions, made after consultation with voluntary welfare groups and industry players, are expected to be implemented at the start of next year.

Members of the public have until the end of the month to give their feedback on the changes to the code, which was last reviewed in 2007.

Mr Edmund Wan of the Handicaps Welfare Association said the revisions would cater to the needs of a changing populace.

"Motorised wheelchair users, for example, will benefit from wider walkways," he said. "They are more common as they are getting cheaper, yet some users still have difficulty getting around."

Housewife Irene Poh, who has one three-year-old son and another aged four months, said more nursing rooms would be helpful.

"It's a constant struggle when we go out to find somewhere private," said the 34-year-old. "Making such rooms compulsory means I won't have to worry as much when we are out."
More details can be found at www.bca.gov.sg

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C

Senior Sales Director
DTZ Property Network Pte Ltd (L3007960A)
Email: marshe_inc@yahoo.com.sg

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