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Thailand ready for universal design adjustments, forum hears


Chulalongkorn University's Universal Design Centre and its partners held the first national academic conference on Universal design on Friday in a bid to raise awareness of making public spaces accessible to everybody.

The event was held both onsite at the ThaiHealth Centre on Sathorn Road and online via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Universal design involves adjusting buildings, products or surroundings to improve the quality of life of all groups in society, especially the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Wiriya Namsiripongpan, president of the Universal Foundation for Persons with Disabilities, said universal design was introduced when the United Nations implemented its social-inclusion policy.

The social-inclusion policy focuses on enabling persons with disabilities to use services, interact with others and conduct activities like everybody else.

“For instance, tactile warnings should be set up on footpaths to help the visually impaired learn what lies ahead, just as slippery path, intersections, trees or holes,” he said. “Meanwhile, the hearing impaired need sign language to help them use services at venues like airports and train stations.”

He added that descriptions, embossed images, braille and audio announcements are necessary for persons with disabilities to access information.

Thailand ready for universal design adjustments, forum hears

Wiriya added that the online sign-language interpretation service, developed by the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology, is already helping those with impaired hearing with things like travel or bargaining using just a smartphone.

He added that though Thailand’s application of universal design is at a fair level, problems in buildings still persist. Hence he advised the government to develop infrastructure that serves everybody.

Separately, Takayasu Shimada, president of sanitary ware manufacturer TOTO (Thailand), said his company also wants to contribute to the development of Thai society.

Shimada said his company’s universal design toilet promotion aims to create an environment where people can leave their homes knowing that clean toilets will be freely available. He said this will help revitalise Thailand’s tourism sector and generate revenue for the country.

“To achieve this, the company needs cooperation from relevant agencies,” he said, adding the company was ready to provide know-how, consultation and after-sales services.

Thailand ready for universal design adjustments, forum hears

Admitting that not all Japanese universal ideas are applicable in Thailand, he said ideas should be created based on society, laws, culture and ergonomics.

He explained that toilets in Thailand have three key problems with universal design, including inappropriate or unnecessary products, missing items or wrong positioning and dimension.

“In this regard, the company is focusing on clarifying the objective and target, including building characteristics, target users and clarifying the goal," he said.

"We must also carefully consider and realise valuable plans on restroom renovations, as it will be used for 15 to 30 years once renovated,” he added.

Published : March 11, 2022

By : THE NATION