Fri, 03 Dec 1999

Government, public urged to respect the disabled

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Association of Disabled People called on the government and the public to respect the rights of the physically challenged.

Association chairman Koesbiono Sarmanhadi said the existence of a law guaranteeing the rights of the disabled did not prevent people and the government from violating these rights.

He urged the government to ensure Law No. 4/1997 was properly implemented and enforced.

The law requires public facilities take into consideration and provide for the needs of the disabled.

"We're not asking for something which is exclusive... We only want better access to be able to use public facilities," he said here on Thursday during a seminar titled Accessibility for the Disabled -- Between Regulation and Reality.

He gave several examples where simple consideration would go a long way toward ensuring the rights of the disabled.

Clearer sign boards and more adequate public address systems in places such as railroad stations and airports would make it easier for the blind and deaf to travel, he said.

"Not only that, but it would also make it easier for normal people," he added.

Koesbiono said his association was asking for nothing more than generally accepted universal standards to accommodate the needs of the disabled.

"We understand that providing special and complete facilities like the ones in developed countries takes time, so we're only asking for the simple things," he asserted.

The assistant to the director general of the Public Works Agency, Imam Santoso, believes the lack of penalties for those failing to provide facilities for the disabled is one reason why the needs of the disabled are neglected.

Imam conceded the implementation of the law would require time.

He added that one reason these facilities were not being provided was because it would mean additional costs. "But if these special facilities are included from the planning stage, then the additional costs should not be a problem." (04)