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BCA's Accessibility Code to be reviewed for more accessible and friendlier buildings in Singapore

Monday, 1 April 2013

- Fourth review of the Accessibility Code now open for public consultation on BCA's website 
- Proposed Code specifies building design requirements that allow better accessibility for the handicapped, the elderly and now, families with infants

Singapore, 1 April 2013 - The Accessibility Code Review Committee convened by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has drafted a revised version of the Code on Accessibility for the Built Environment (4.9MB .pdf) ("the Code").

The draft Code, which is in its fourth review, will be opened for public consultation from 1 April 2013 to 30 April 2013, in BCA's website (www.bca.gov.sg). BCA will also consult other bodies such as other government agencies, voluntary welfare organisations, industry players and groups with interests in accessibility and Universal Design.

Comprising representatives from government agencies, industry associations and many voluntary welfare organisations, the tripartite Accessibility Code Review Committee began the review at the end of 2010. In reviewing the Code, the Committee's proposals placed greater emphasis on Universal Design concepts and requirements that will benefit more Singaporeans. The needs of the young and parents with infants were also considered so that our buildings and public spaces meet a minimum standard of accessibility.

The Committee's proposals for the key changes to the Code include:
- Mandatory family-friendly features such as child-friendly toilets and lactation room for nursing mothers in buildings frequented by public. 
- More elderly-friendly features such as higher ratio of toilet compartments and urinals that are suitable for ambulant disabled users in selected buildings including office buildings. 
- Provision of hearing enhancement system that enables audio signals to be transmitted to persons with hearing disabilities.
- Additional supportive measures for visually impaired such as Braille and tactile information for public toilet signs, staircases and ramps to indicate storey level.
- Wider accessible routes, corridors or paths in buildings frequented by the public.

BCA's Chief Executive Officer Dr John Keung said, "Buildings and public spaces are shared among all Singaporeans. Through the Code on Accessibility, we want to make them more accessible and friendlier for all. All of us have family, relatives and friends who may be elderly, parents with infants or the disabled. We share a stake in our built environment. So, we are inviting Singaporeans from all walks of life to give us your comments and build an inclusive Singapore together."

Handicaps Welfare Association's Mr. Edmund Wan said, "The new proposed changes to the Accessibility Code will move Singapore closer to fulfilling our objective of building an inclusive society and ensure that the Code remains relevant today. BCA is one step ahead in the requirement after Singapore signed the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Person with Disabilities in late 2012. The Handicaps Welfare Association HWA is grateful for the opportunity to be involved in drafting the revised Code and be able do more for our broad segment of our society, including the disabled, families and the elderly."

Singapore Institute of Architects's Mr. Thomas Ho added, "As representatives of professional groups in this Code Review Committee, we play our part for an inclusive society by striving to achieve a delicate balance between fulfilling the diverse mobility needs of our society and ensuring that the designs for accessibility are practical to be implemented. Through this Accessibility Code review, we can appreciate how changes - no matter how small - in the way we design and construct buildings or public spaces can mean a lot to groups of Singaporeans with different needs. It has been a very meaningful experience for us as professionals in this review."

After the close of the public consultation on 30 April 2013, the tripartite Committee will evaluate all comments, views and feedback that were received. Where applicable, they will be included in the final amendments of the draft Code.

The new Code is expected to be ready for implementation in the first quarter of 2014 after giving a grace period of at least six months to the industry. This is to allow the industry to have enough time to consider the new requirements while planning for new building projects.

In the last review in 2007, the scope of the Code on Accessibility was expanded to cover the whole built environment including public spaces beyond the confine of the buildings to facilitate barrier-free inter-connectivity between buildings and infrastructures. The Code specifies requirements in buildings and public spaces in Singapore so that they are more user-friendly for people with movement difficulties and the elderly, among others. It is one of the avenues BCA uses to build a more inclusive, accessible and friendlier built environment in Singapore.

 

Footnotes

Annex A Key changes in the proposed draft the Code (97KB .pdf)
Annex B Code Review Committee (48KB .pdf
Code on Accessibility for the Built Environment (Draft) (4.9MB .pdf)

Portable document format version of the media release is also available (109KB .pdf).

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