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Tactile Guidance System Installed on Multi Rapid Transit to Help The Visually Handicapped

Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from Channel News Asia, Singapore, February 26, 2006.

It is more convenient for the blind to travel on Multi-Rapid Transit now.

39 stations around the island have been retrofitted with a tactile guidance system to help the visually handicapped get around more independently.

The S$7.4 million project is part of the government's long-term plan to improve the land transport system to make it more accessible and user-friendly.

The system will enable the visually handicapped to walk safely to the ticket counter, up the lift and eventually the train platform.

It also helps the blind to find the toilet easily.

Ng Swee Kuen, Association of the Visually Handicapped, said: "Actually for us, we are not afraid of going out, if there is something that can guide us, it's really useful to be independent. Let's say if we can't get anyone to help us, this tactile system is very helpful to us."

Six remaining stations, which will be part of the Circle Line, will be retrofitted by the middle of this year.

New public buses will also be wheelchair-friendly.

Some 150 buses with manually operated ramps will be on the roads as early as April this year.

But will these improved facilities for the disabled come at an inconvenience for others?

"I don't think it will be very much inconvenient unless for people in a rush, then maybe it could be a little frustrating for them," said one commuter.

"Probably they need to stop longer at certain bus stops to allow these people to get up, but on the whole I think it's a very human thing to include these people as part of our daily lives," said another.

"I think the slight inconvenience--we should bear with it to help these people to travel easier. In fact, if youave traveled overseas before, you'll find that the bus drivers will get out of their seat and help the elderly and even the people with babies and all that, help them with prams to help them in their vehicle,

I don't see the big deal."

The LTA is also spending $60 million to upgrade its road facilities over the next three to four years to cater to the elderly, wheelchair users and those with young children in prams.--CNA/ch