Bindiya Farswani in her motorised wheelchair. The RTA continues to make efforts to cater to the needs of this crucial segment. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf news archives

Dubai: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has modified its infrastructure to meet the needs of people with special needs, said Badr Al Awadhi, Service Centres Manager in RTA.

RTA held a seminar at the Rashid Centre for Disabled in order to assess its services for a smooth transition into a disabled-friendly Dubai by 2020. In order to improve and modify their services to reach the optimum target, RTA service centre supervisors put themselves in the position of the disabled.

“The service centre supervisors sat in a wheelchair and took the customer’s journey from the parking all the way to the reception, the counters and beyond the centre,” said Al Awadhi. “And we based our changes and renovations of these centres on the report that we received from the respective centres.”

Statistics show that the one billion people in the world have special needs, mainly in Third World countries, and of this one billion, 93 million are children. Currently, there are 13,000 speical needs people in the UAE.

RTA continues to make an effort to cater to the needs of this crucial segment of the population by offering services that will make daily tasks easier for those with special needs.

For example, for the visually impaired, “the floors in our Metro stations have metal studs which are designed in a way that will assist those who are blind to walk in the right path”, said Al Awadhi.

All RTA buses, he said, are equipped to meet the needs of the disabled by providing verbal instructions for those who cannot read and offering wheelchairs in many of the stations.

“For our ferry taxi, the water taxi, we have provided toilets for the handicapped, ramps for wheelchairs and a specific path for wheelchairs to provide them easy access,” he added.

For the land taxi service, through dispatch centres, one can request a taxi with the necessary requirements for a physically disabled person. However, there is much more to the service than just a vehicle with options for the disabled. “We have a training centre for the drivers of these taxis, and we include how to deal with people with special needs,” said Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

Among other services that RTA has to offer is a transportation service to hospitals for non-emergency cases catering to mostly those with disabilities but not in critical condition.

The RTA is also seeking suggestions from the public in order to improve their services for special needs people.

Maria Botros is a trainee at Gulf News