KLANG: Not all among the disabled community will get the full benefit of next year’s allocations for them. Damai Disabled Persons Association president V. Murugeswaran, who is also a wheelchair user, says the RM10mil for ehailing services travel vouchers is a fantastic move but accessibility is a problem.
“Sadly, none of the ehailing services in this country is accessible to disabled people on wheelchairs.
“Hopefully, the government can split the allocation to encourage ehailing service providers in the country to bring in accessible taxis just like those in Europe and other countries,’’ he said.
As for the allocation to build wheelchair ramps in seven airports in Sabah and Sarawak, Murugeswaran said he hoped the allocation would be used to build ramps in low-cost airports in the country.
“At the moment, wheelchair users cannot take flights from most small airports as there are no facilities or help to carry passengers with reduced mobility onboard aircraft,’’ he added.
Besides the travel vouchers, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz announced that RM20mil to improve the facilities, equipment and teaching aids in special needs schools as well as special incentives to increase the number of preschools (taska) for special children from the current 13 to 50.
Other incentives for disabled Malaysians included the setting up of disabled-friendly call centres with video call and sign language facilities as well as an RM1.2bil allocation to help members of the community to enhance their potential to help them earn a living.
Universiti Putra Malaysia lecturer Dr Mastura Mahamed, who is living with cerebral palsy, said she hoped the RM20mil would kickstart better implementation of different components in special education.
“There is also a need to ensure that facilities such as toilets for the special education class students are in the same building as the mainstream students. This is crucial to make integral parts of the school accessible and disable-friendly,’’ she said.
Dr Mastura, who is also the vice-president of Gabungan Anak-Anak Palsi Serebrum, said she was happy with the allocation to increase the number of preschools as this would enable parents of disabled children to work and contribute equally towards the family’s financial well-being.
Malaysia Independent Living Association For Disabled president Sia Siew Chin said to integrate into mainstream society, disabled people must be able to live independently and this required some sort of a support system to be put in place such as independent living training centres.
She added that there were only seven independent living centres throughout Malaysia and hoped more would be set up.
“People with disabilities need independent living programmes to help them become emotionally strong while acquiring independent living skills.
“These centres also offere peer counselling, so they will have people who understand their situation to speak with, and personal assistance service to help them with their daily routines.
“These services are all provided by the Independent Living Centre Project promoted by the government in 2019,’’ said Sia, who uses a wheelchair.