Humanistic Cities for People with Disabilities Needed



For people with disabilities (PWDs) to be able to participate in social activities and access public spaces, a system of signs and signposts must be included in city designs. Parking lots for cars and motorbikes must include parking spaces exclusively for PWDs at convenient locations…

On August 6, an online talk on "People with Disabilities Accessible Cities: Built Environment and Transport" took place. This was one of the activities of the Australian Alumni of the Disability Inclusion Professional Group, organised and coordinated by the Australia-Vietnam Human Resources Development Program (Aus4Skills).

The purpose of the talk was to share the perspectives of PWDs about the accessibility of the city where they live and work, thereby voicing their wish to the community and policy makers, for the improved accessibility of cities.

Mr Michael Sadlon during his opening speech
Mr. Michael Sadlon - Director of Aus4Skills –giving a speech

Mr. Michael Sadlon - Director of Aus4Skills - emphasised that supporting PWDs was one of the priorities of the Australian Government. According to him, PWs face accessibility challenges every day in cities. It is necessary to hear about physical barriers in the urban environment that exclude PWDs from accessing education, employment, health care services, from contributing to and participating in society. And this gives rise to both social and economic costs. It is necessary to raise awareness and advocate for change and promote the spirit of "Cities for Everyone" as these issues also impact the elderly and parents with young children.

According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, PWDs account for 7% of the population of Vietnam, including 3.5 million women with disabilities.

Mrs Duong Thi Van Chairwoman of Hanoi Association of People with Disabilities
Mrs. Duong Thi Van - Chairwoman of Hanoi Association of People with Disabilities

Mrs. Duong Thi Van - Chairwoman of the Hanoi Association of People with Disabilities (DP Hanoi), Vice President of the Vietnam Federation on Disability (VFD) s about accessible transport from the perspective of the DP Hanoi. According to Mrs. Van, the commitment to implementing accessible transport in Vietnam has been fully stipulated in legal documents. The Ministry of Transport issue a set of transport standards for everyone’s access (or traffic for all) for the transport system. And according to the regulations of the Ministry of Construction, buildings such as schools, offices, shopping centers, markets, food centers, public works... must have separate paths for PWDs. There must be a system of signs and signposts in urban areas. The paths with stairs must have ramps, according to standards. Parking lots must be arranged exclusively for PWDs at the most convenient locations…

In reality, positive changes have been seen: More people with disabilities go to street to join traffic than before. They go to school, to work, to hospitals, participate in sports, cultural and amusement activities, contributing to the socio-economic development of the country, the province, the city and the locality.

Participating in the talk show
Participating in the talk show

A humanistic city must be PWDs friendly. Roads and sidewalks have been renovated to be accessible to PWDs in many cities. However, there are still many shortcomings. There are paths with directional slabs (paving) that do not have warning slabs (paving) for changing directions. There are places where the paving guide down the roadway or tree stumps... without any warning paving. Besides, for most sidewalks, people and agencies must create their own paths using cement panels, bricks, iron plates... for vehicles (motorcycles, tricycles...) to get on and off the sidewalk. Therefore, there is a great need for practical road and pavement construction standards and innovative solutions. Let's all act together, accompany the people with disabilities, make cities friendly for every citizen.

Dr. Vo Thi Hoang Yen - Founder and Director of the Disability Research & Capacity Development (DRD) - emphasised that promoting a city of hope requires full implementation of accessibility standards and rights of PWDs. It is necessary to raise awareness to change the way of thinking of policy makers, constructors and project developers... However, policy advocacy for implementation still faces many challenges. This is a very long process and requires every PWD to fight for themself to represent each type of disability, and then cooperate with PWDs’ organisations.

According to Dr. Joanne Webber - Director of the Disability Inclusion Company, Independent Consultant in Disability Inclusive Development, it is necessary to advocate for policies to promote an accessible environment, through which people with disabilities are given the opportunity to participate in society. It is necessary to find a solution for PWDs to go shopping and go to work independently, and for children with disabilities to go to school by themselves. Then, there will be less economic costs on their care.

Source: Ngu Binh -

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