With the vision to make Singapore a more inclusive society, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is accelerating the pace of accessibility upgrading for buildings and the built environment through incentives, legislation and community partnerships.
ACCESSIBILITY UPGRADES IN BUILDINGS
One of the initiatives is to enhance the Accessibility Fund (AF), an incentive scheme that provides funding support to building owners who undertake upgrading works to improve the inclusiveness of their buildings. The AF has supported accessibility upgrading in more than 150 buildings since 2007, with about S$20 million still available.
BCA will expand the eligibility criteria of the fund to include buildings that have already been fitted with basic accessibility features in order to encourage building owners to voluntarily upgrade their buildings with more universal design (UD) features, such as grab bars for the elderly, child-friendly toilets and lactation rooms. Building owners can receive up to S$100,000 to support these upgrades.
Applications for funding support for accessibility upgrading in older and non-barrier free buildings will remain open until end March 2027. In addition, a one-time interim payment option is now available to better support building owners to meet their cashflow needs for costlier accessibility upgrading works involving lift installation works.
Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, said, “We can do more by having accessibility features integrated into our existing buildings. I encourage building owners to make good use of the funding support to make their buildings barrier-free.”
Panasonic Factory Solutions Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. (PFSAP) is one of the beneficiaries of the AF. The company’s premises is now equipped with a toilet, passenger lift and car park lot for persons with disabilities (PwDs), as well as ramps and a nursing room in place for nursing mothers who return to the workplace after maternity leave. According to Celia Quek, PFSAP’s Human Resources General Manager, the accessibility and UD upgrade allows the company to tap on a larger employment pool, such as senior workers or people with disabilities.
BCA also introduced a new arrangement to further accelerate accessibility upgrading in older buildings. Starting from early 2023, owners of existing commercial or institutional buildings which are not barrier-free are required to install basic accessibility features when carrying out any addition and alteration works inside the buildings.
IMPROVING ACCESSIBILITY OF PUBLIC SPACES THROUGH COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
On the other hand, PwDs are still facing challenges when using some public spaces. To overcome the obstacles, BCA has been working with Our Accessible City@CBD (Raffles Place), a community partnership comprising representatives from the PwD community, built environment sector, social service agencies and the public sector, to identify key challenges and co-develop solutions to improve accessibility in Raffles Place, Singapore’s prominent financial city centre.
The efforts of the partnership have resulted in better way-finding signage, enhanced connectivity between buildings and other accessibility improvements at Raffles Place. Efforts are still ongoing—feedback from community partners and PwD representatives on the suggested accessible routes and solutions has been collected, which will facilitate the subsequent discussion on the development of the accessibility plan for Raffles Place. — Construction+ Online