Universal Design~

To many of us, perhaps accessibility is something that we do not fully appreciate or understand. But for the physically handicapped, the elderly or parents with infants, accessibility is something really important as it affects the way they move around in public spaces! Things like climbing the stairs may be an easy task for us but the same flight of stairs could feel like Mount Everest to the elderly!!

Though we may not appreciate accessibility or Universal Design, what we can do is to try to understand it, educate ourselves and other people of its importance and most importantly, raise awareness so that more people would be aware of its importance!!!

In case you're still wondering about why it is important to have accessibility functions in public spaces, watch my video below and you'll understand more!

As I mentioned in the video, I received an emergency call from my family the other day, asking me to rush down to the hospital because my grandfather slipped and fell. Slipping and falling doesn't seem like a serious matter for young people like us but it can potentially be life-threatening to the elderly.

Thankfully, my grandfather’s fall was not too serious, though he did injure his legs and was told that he would have to be on the wheelchair for a while.

When we visited him at his home, I realized how difficult it is for him to actually navigate and move about, not just at home but also in public places.

Let’s just talk about restaurants. The other day, we brought him out for dinner but it completely slipped our minds to check if the restaurant was wheelchair-accessible. When we got there, we were faced with a flight of stairs with no ramps or elevators in sight.

We had to support him and at the same time, carry his wheelchair up that flight of stairs. The process was troublesome but it still was not that bad, until a couple of young people behind us started getting impatient and made ‘tsk tsk tsk’ sounds.

My grandfather is lucky because he can turn to us for help whenever he needs it, but what about those who cannot get help readily? Handicap facilities like ramps and elevators are not features that we physically-able people think about but when you have difficulties walking, a small flight of stairs may seem insurmountable without a ramp.

Frankly, it is only when something unfortunate happens to you or your loved ones that you will see how much we are lacking when it comes to accessible facilities.

I think some youths these days lack empathy but the rest of us can help to create greater awareness for more accessible facilities. It may not be easy, but as the years go by, I think we can actually create greater demand for such facilities.

Being a graduate student of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at Singapore Polytechnic, I learnt the importance of safety features and accessibility in design. Sometimes, a simple feature such as a handrail can make a difference in someone's daily life! So after learning about Universal Design, I'm all for promoting it!!!

In case you're wondering what are some of the Universal Design features that can be found in our daily life, just look at the pictures below!!

It is important to better educate ourselves and also to learn more about how we're able to improve the lives of others. Now, there is a great opportunity for us to do this and we can finally start doing our part for our society!!!

The Building and Construction Authority understand the importance of Universal Design and has come up with this short film competition to drive awareness for UD. If you are between 16 and 25 years old and are studying in an educational institution in Singapore, please participate as it is for a good cause!

All you have to do is to create a short film about Universal Design, and you stand a chance to win $5,000 IN CASH PRIZES!!!! You can visit http://ahomeforeveryone.sg/ for more information. You may submit your videos anytime from 15th August to 30 September 2014, so start scripting now!!!!

Show support for the cause by liking them on Facebook!!!

And if you're interested to learn more about Universal Design, you can also check out BCA's Friendly Portal!  www.bca.gov.sg/friendlybuilding/Contents/Contents2.aspx?ContId=1

Let’s spare a thought for the less fortunate and do our part in making our living environment a safer and better place.

Good luck!

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