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No HK public toilets for disabled people pass muster
(China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2005-01-25 09:45

A recent study inspected 99 public toilets in HK for people with disabilities, and all of them failed to meet government design and safety standards.

The survey, which tested lavatory facilities for disabled people in restaurants, shopping arcades and government facilities, found more than 70 per cent of washing basins were too high or too low, making them difficult for the disabled citizens to use.

Over 65 per cent of the toilets were unsuitable for disabled people, with many serious design problems, according to the Rehabilitation Alliance Hong Kong.

"The situation has worsened since our last survey in 1997, when we found at least one public toilet facility for disabled persons that met all government design requirements," said vice-chairman Lee Kwun-hung.

"Due to management practices or human factors, the maintenance of toilet facilities for handicapped persons are often neglected, causing a great deal of inconvenience and even endangering users in some cases," Lee told reporters at a press conference.

He revealed that more than 40 per cent of lavatories do not have emergency alarms, which jeopardizes the safety of users if accidents occur.

Results of the survey also indicate the prevalence of problems such as hygiene and odour problems, use of toilets as storage facilities and collection of stagnant water.

"About 20 per cent of the toilet facilities (for the disabled) inspected were locked, while 21 per cent of them were used in a public storage capacity, which often prevents handicapped people from using the lavatories," Lee explained.

Yu Kwok-fai, a disabled volunteer in the study, said proper public toilets for disabled people are lacking in Hong Kong.

"It is hard enough for us to find public toilets, and many of the existing ones are neither functional nor user-friendly."

Lee said the study's findings suggest that the basic needs of the disabled are being neglected in the territory, adding that the government should step up monitoring and prosecution of property developers and management companies that fail to meet requirements for toilet facilities.

"The government should ensure that there are enough lavatory facilities for disabled people, and regularly inspect these facilities for their maintenance and hygiene standards," he said.

The government must enhance public awareness of the needs of disabled citizens, and fulfil its commitment to help them integrate into society, he added.

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