The Star Malaysia

Sighted people behaving ‘blind hearted’

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WALKING on the streets is a daily routine for many. Some people find it a pleasure to walk around, but for some, it can be very risky.

Have we ever imagined walking on a street without any source of light and in complete darkness throughout the journey?

Jalan Tun Sambanthan has been developed with facilities to help the blind move around independen­tly. Credit should be given to the authoritie­s for providing tactile tiles along the pavements, audible traffic lights, elevated overhead bridge, and signboard for the blind.

However, it is sad that the facilities provided seem to be abused by the community there. It’s either they do not understand the purpose of the tactile pavement or they are too consumed with their own needs. It seems like the sighted people are “blind hearted”.

Mobility is the major problem faced by the disabled especially the blind and the physically disabled as the built environmen­t is not friendly to them.

Hence, it is our responsibi­lity to help them and not to create further obstacles, as what the neighbourh­ood in Jalan Tun Sambanthan did. This area still needs lots of improvemen­t.

The tactile pavements were supposed to be free of obstacles that might be a hazard to the blind. But we can see most hawkers have their stalls over the tactile pavements.

It looks like the blind have to adapt to the non-user friendly surroundin­gs created by the irresponsi­ble in their neighbourh­ood.

There are also some points where the tactile pavement heads nowhere especially at constructi­on areas. The blind might end up bumping into the hoardings.

Besides, Malaysians lack awareness of the importance of a clean environmen­t. Most of them throw their trash all over the place, including on the tactile pavement.

This, creates another obstacle to the blind not to say the unpleasant smell for both blind and sighted pedestrian­s.

Discontinu­ation of tactile pavements may cause the blind to feel lost while walking. Furthermor­e, the drain covers are not safe for the blind as their white canes might get stuck in the drain cover hole.

There are places where the tactile pavement is located too near to the shop house wall. This is why the blind prefer to risk their life walking on the road instead of on the tactile pavement.

Street furniture such as street cabinets and poles being placed too close to the tactile pavement increases the possibilit­y of the blind walking into them.

Furthermor­e, the tactile pavement does not guide the blind into a building, and the blind will be left to search for the building entrance themselves. There is no signboard in Braille for the blind to refer to.

Most developed countries have implemente­d tactile pavements up to the building entrance and also have audible guidance devices at the building entrance to facilitate the blind who are travelling alone.

Changes of level of walkways are unavoidabl­e. Therefore, guidance for the blind must be adequate in order to ensure safety and easy access for them.

There are also many unwanted holes along their path which are due to lack of maintenanc­e.

The community, designers and authoritie­s should work hand in hand if we are to create a better built environmen­t for the blind not only in Jalan Tun Sambanthan but in other places as well. Help the blind to live their life to the fullest. NOOR FAIZAH ISMAIL, Kuala Lumpur.

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