Code for accessibility includes family-friendly features too (TODAY Voices)

Friday, 28 September 2012

We thank Mr. Ivan Phua Cheen Hau for his letter "Code for more family-oriented spaces" (21 September).

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) champions a built environment that is friendly for all - the old and young, people with different abilities, and families - through barrier-free accessibility and Universal Design features.

Singapore's built environment today has become more accessible since the Code on Barrier-free Accessibility in Buildings was legislated in 1990. The Code was introduced to ensure that buildings in Singapore are accessible to people with disabilities. In 2007, it was expanded to cover our entire built environment and a wider spectrum of our needs. The provisions in the revised Code improved accessibility for the wheelchair-bound and the ambulant disabled, our senior citizens, and families with young children in strollers.

BCA is committed to making our built environment friendlier for families with young children and babies. We have emphasised the importance of barrier-free accessibility and the inclusion of family-friendly facilities to businesses and professionals whom we work closely with. We have also introduced a set of Design Guidelines for family-friendly facilities, which serves as a good-practice guide for developers, architects and other professionals on how they can provide such facilities in their buildings and projects.

Due to BCA's active promotion of Universal Design to the industry, there are more frequently used public places and shopping complexes today with family-friendly facilities such as nursing room for mothers, diaper-changing stations, washrooms that come with child-friendly fittings and larger car park spaces. This year, 14 developments were award winners at our annual BCA Universal Design Awards. Changi City Point, a Silver Award winner is a shopping complex that has successfully incorporated both Universal Design and barrier-free accessibility features such as a sheltered bus-stop, taxi stand, passenger drop-off/pick up points and walkway, as well as family-friendly amenities from a nursing room for children to first-aid rooms for the elderly.

BCA also has a website (www.friendlybuildings.sg) that has a "Find a Friendly Building" search function for visitors to find out whether a particular building has accessible or family-friendly facilities.

As part of our efforts to improve accessibility and make buildings friendlier, BCA is currently reviewing the Code. One of the considerations in the review is the provision of family-friendly facilities for places where families frequently access (e.g. large-scale shopping complexes and transport interchanges). We will conduct a public consultation on the revised Code early next year. Together, we can make Singapore a barrier-free and all-inclusive society.

Chin Chi Leong 
Group Director, Building Plan and Management 
Building and Construction Authority

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