Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 25 November 2020

Disabled need more support

The New wheelchair acessible path at the kite beach in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
The New wheelchair acessible path at the kite beach in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National

Accessibility is an important feature of an advanced city. People with limited mobility should be able to navigate through any part of the city easily without facing any obstacles. While there have been efforts in the UAE to increase accessibility, we are still far from achieving this goal.

The new Dubai code, which will come into effect by the end of the year, is a step in the right direction. As The National reported yesterday, it makes it compulsory for developers of new buildings in Dubai to ensure accessibility for wheelchair users. Old buildings will also have to abide by the same rules during the maintenance period. By 2020, Dubai is planning to become one of the world’s most disabled-friendly cities as part of the Dubai Universal Accessibility Strategy and Action Plans.

Abu Dhabi Municipality introduced a building code a few years ago requiring new shopping malls and apartment buildings to have provisions for disabled people to ensure universal accessibility. These include ramps and pavements, sufficient spaces for wheelchairs and special bathrooms and parking spaces.

But the challenging part will be in enforcing these rules in older buildings, which for the most part will require a great deal of refurbishment to keep up with policy and regulation.

And then there is also the importance of having a partnership between the Government and all community members. As Isphana Al Khatib, director of Al Noor Training Centre for People with Disabilities in Dubai, told The National, everyone should be on board in order for these efforts to succeed – not only developers. For example, Wings of Angelz, the advocacy group that has helped to make sure that 551 ramps have been built in Dubai for people in wheelchairs. This is a very positive example of community engagement.

It’s also important to increase efforts to make our streets more accessible too, for wheelchair users, for the elderly and parents with strollers, and for everyone. Let’s work together to make our cities navigable and usable for all residents.

Updated: November 6, 2016 04:00 AM