EOC Conducts Formal Investigation on Accessibility
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) announced today (8 December 2006) that it would conduct a Formal Investigation on Accessibility in certain Publicly Accessible Premises under s 66 of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) Cap.487. The terms of reference of the Formal Investigation was gazetted today, and the investigation will formally commence on 11 December 2006.
The investigation shall include :-
- Identifying a selection of certain publicly accessible premises for the purposes of the formal investigation;
- Identifying the difficulties encountered by persons with a disability (PWDs) in respect of physical access to and use of related facilities in certain publicly accessible premises;
- Evaluation of whether and how the requirement of non-discriminatory accessibility have been achieved or improved in public buildings;
- Identifying the improvement works carried out since the EOC's survey conducted in 2000;
- How alteration works and changes in policies and practices can improve accessibility; and
- Identifying measures to enhance attitude/mindset of the building professionals; and the general public in relation to the requirement to achieve non-discriminatory access to premises.
"Accessibility is essential for persons with a disability (PWDs) in their enjoyment of equal opportunities at work, in delivery of goods and services, independent living and personal development. It is important to create a barrier-free environment where people with or without disabilities can enjoy equal opportunities to develop to their fullest potential. The Formal Investigation is the EOC's initiative to promote equality of opportunity between PWDs and persons without a disability," said Mr. Raymond TANG, Chairperson of the EOC.
The Formal Investigation is a focused study into the means of access to or use of certain premises within the housing estates, commercial centers, car parks, buildings and offices built, owned or managed by the Housing Authority, Housing Society, The Link Management Ltd. and the HKSAR Government, with specific reference to the legal requirement of providing accessible facilities to PWDs in a non-discriminatory manner.
Under the DDO, developers and property management companies should provide access to PWDs unless this would impose unjustifiable hardship. Accessibility-related complaints make up about 13% of total complaints lodged under the DDO received by the EOC. The EOC is of the view that redressing individual accessibility problems by way of complaint may not be the most effective way to deal with inaccessibility.
"To achieve sustainable solutions, it is more efficient to tackle the problem in a systemic manner. The formal investigation will facilitate the development of a sustainable built environment, which will benefit a large section of the community comprising not only PWDs but also the elderly and parents with young children," Mr. TANG said.
"The EOC has identified publicly accessible premises as the target for investigation, because there is a higher concentration of disadvantaged groups and PWDs residing within and the barriers to access in publicly accessible premises can and do affect a greater number of people," Mr. TANG explained.
To collect quantitative and qualitative data, the investigation will be conducted in a combination of methods, including document review, access audit, focus groups discussion, case study, invitation of views and submission from stakeholders, response from owners and management of the target premises. The case study will help illustrate how inaccessibility impacts on the daily lives of those with a disability.
The EOC welcomes the public and stakeholders to provide views on the issues. Views and opinions should be directed to :
The Equal Opportunities Commission
19/F., Cityplaza Three,
14 Taikoo Wan Road, Taikoo Shing,
For the attention of the Operations Division (F.I. on Accessibility)
For media enquiry, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW at 2106-2226.