‘KL authorities are blind to our needs’

ARMED with a GoPro camera, Hafiyyan Lali documents the numerous obstacles he faces as he steps out of his workplace in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Despite a short 1km walk from his Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) office on Jalan Tebing to Kuala Lumpur Sentral, the journey is fraught with difficulties as many things prevent the visually impaired 34-year-old from comfortably navigating paths inlaid with tactile tiles.

For the visually impaired, tactile paving is crucial for navigating the city.

“It has guiding patterns, bumps and stripes that tell me when stairs are coming up or when I may be approaching a cycle lane.

“I never venture into areas without tactile paving; it is simply too dangerous,” says Hafiyyan, who was accompanied on his journey by his colleague, 48-year-old Abian Jambot.

Together, they encountered obstructions such as tables and chairs placed by roadside traders operating on public walkways.

At one point, their progress was impeded by customers queuing on the tactile paving to buy pisang goreng from a trader who had set up stall on a walkway, with a gas tank dangerously close by.

Over 30% of the tactile paving meant to aide the visually impaired community in Brickfields is falling apart or broken.Over 30% of the tactile paving meant to aide the visually impaired community in Brickfields is falling apart or broken.

In some areas, the tactile paving was obstructed by motorcycles and cars, and in other places, the tiles ended abruptly in front of a pillar.

Along the way, at least 30% of the tactile tiles were damaged or broken, further complicating their journey.

Hafiyyan’s experience highlights the daily challenges faced by the visually impaired in navigating city streets, underscoring an urgent need for improved infrastructure and enforcement to ensure their safety.

“All we want is inclusive and accessible infrastructure – better pavements and walkways, working lifts, escalators and traffic lights, as well as high-quality tactile paving,” Hafiyyan said.

Abian said the city’s maintenance culture was sorely lacking. “We need enforcement officers to monitor and maintain these facilities at least every three months.”

Both Hafiyyan and Abian stressed that authorities needed to implement the MS1184 code of practice.

Abian says a maintenance culture is lacking in Kuala Lumpur.Abian says a maintenance culture is lacking in Kuala Lumpur.

“We want people to see us and respect us, and the only way that’s going to happen is by giving more teeth to Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (Act 685),” Hafiyyan stated.

“We need a legal document that can empower us.

“Right now, our rights are being violated,” Abian said, referring to vehicles and stalls blocking tactile paths.

“It’s not just physical infrastructure we are concerned about. Digital infrastructure is also an issue.

“Digital platforms such as websites, banking systems and online shopping should be accessible so we can manage our own finances just like everyone else.

“We can’t see the authorities, but I think it’s time the authorities see us,” said Hafiyyan. — By BAVANI M

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