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    Jul 28, 2016

    Upgraded buildings must have user-friendly features

    STARTING next year, buildings such as schools and malls must include two basic accessibility features if they are undergoing any additions and alterations (A&A).

    The new rule applies to commercial and institutional buildings such as offices and schools.

    When these undergo any A&A works, they must also make their entrances barrier-free with either a ramp, stair-lift or platform lift, and provide at least one accessible toilet. Before, only buildings undergoing "major" A&A works had to do so.

    National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced this and other measures to promote user-friendly designs at the opening of this year's Singapore Universal Design Week yesterday.

    A new Universal Design Guide for Public Places was also launched, giving the industry a reference for the sort of features they can include.

    "It's about being inclusive and embracing the needs of everyone," said Mr Wong.

    Newer buildings have incorporated universal design - features that cater for the needs of all - but there are still older buildings which are not accessible, he noted.

    Noting that one in four existing commercial and institutional buildings is still not accessible, he said: "We need to accelerate the progress of our accessibility improvements."

    Building and Construction Authority (BCA) acting deputy chief executive Chin Chi Leong said business areas such as Shenton Way will be one focus, as there are many older buildings there.

    The BCA will further consult stakeholders before the new rule kicks in some time next year. The exact date has yet to be announced.

    Mr Wong also announced an extension of BCA's Accessibility Fund for another five years to March 2022.

    This covers up to 80 per cent of the cost of basic accessibility features and 40 per cent for additional features.

    The fund will cover more features, such as Braille signage for the visually impaired.

    As of June 2016, only $14 million of the $40 million fund has been used.