UAE | Government

Abu Dhabi to be special-needs friendly city

Improving access to buildings, toilets, elevators etc tops agenda at upcoming conference

  • By Anjana Sankar, Staff reporter, XPRESS
  • Published: 21:00 April 10, 2013
  • XPRESS

Abu Dhabi: Buildings and public roads in Abu Dhabi will be made more accessible for special needs people, a senior government official said.

“Public toilets that are special needs-friendly, ramps at building entrances, elevators that have Brail, zebra crossings without kerbs, special needs counters at shopping malls and other public places are some of our top priorities in making the emirate more sociable for people with special needs,” Mariam Al Qubaisi, Director of Special Needs at Zayed Higher Organisation (ZHO) for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs told XPRESS.

A conference titled ‘Access Abu Dhabi’ will be held from April 16-18 to discuss ways to improve accessibility and inclusion of special needs people. Accessibility, education, employment, health and community services will be the main areas of focus.

“We are aiming to bring together all government and private entities into implementing policies and regulations we put forward two years ago,” said Qubaisi. She added they are also working with the Department of Transport and Abu Dhabi Urban Council Department on issues like removing kerbstones that hinder people in wheelchairs.

Abu Dhabi Municipality said a “building code” is already in place that requires all new buildings to have provisions for disabled people.

“We are not giving approvals for new building plans if they do not abide by the requirements included in the code that particularly address the special needs people,” Abdul Aziz Hosni Zurub, Director of Health, Safety and Environment at Municipal Affairs, told XPRESS.

Existing buildings will have to make modifications to accommodate ramps and special needs friendly elevators,” he added.

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