The disabled could do with more aid from Budget 2012.
THE recent Budget 2012 continues to be a hot topic among many people with disabilities in the country.
Last week, Yam Tong Woo, who became blind three years ago, was eagerly watching the telly for goodies in the budget. Yam, 57, was disheartened to note that there was just a brief mention of a monthly allowance of between RM150 and RM300 which the Social Welfare Department would be dishing out.
“It must be pointed out that not all people with disabilities are eligible for this allowance,” said Yam. “I was looking forward to seeing other forms of assistance for the disabled to help them cope with the rising cost of living.”
Yam said the blind and other people with disabilities should be entitled to free rides on buses, trains and the LRT in view of their limited earning capacity. “This would be a magnanimous way for the Government to let the handicapped community know that they understand that the latter had inadvertently been left behind by the lack of userfriendly facilities.”
The disabled have to pay a hugh chunk for assistive devices such as wheelchairs and white canes, and software programmes such as Braille readers.
“If the authorities are not able to give a monthly allowance to the disabled, at least a special handout should be given to them from time to time,” said Yam.
He pointed out that assistive technology such as screen reader softwares and adaptive devices do not come cheap and are often out of reach for the blind.
“Mobility aids such as the white cane which the blind use to find their way around should be provided free to every blind individual,” Yam added.
On another note, I would like thank Daphne Ling of Vancouver, Canada, who wrote in to highlight the fact that not all disabilities are visible to the naked eye.
In When Nature Calls ... ( Star2 on Sunday, Oct 16), Daphne referred to my article, Harrowing Experience ( Wheel Power, Sept 8). Daphne was concerned that the able-bodied person that I confronted in a disabled-friendly washroom, might have had an invisible disability such as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis or pulmonary fibrosis, to name a few.
Your point is well taken, Daphne. However, the individual that I was referring to was clearly an able-bodied person (judging from his footprints on the toilet seat), while another one that I encountered was a staff of the hypermarket. These were all confirmed later.
However, I have to disagree with you when you suggested that “sometimes it could just be a bladder/gastro/bowel emergency, and that was the only cubicle available.”
Your comment reminded me of an incident when I had just finished using the loo in San Francisco years ago. A middleaged man rushed in, and was badly in need of the toilet. He was literally holding his stomach and jumping on his feet.
When I suggested that he use the disabled-friendly toilet which was empty, I got a ticking off from him. “What? Use the toilet? What if a person in a wheelchair comes in right now and is in the same position?”
He held on for a few minutes before rushing into the next regular toilet that was available. I learnt a valuable lesson from this.
Lame excuses should not be used as a licence to abuse all sorts of facilities for the disabled.