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Ministry moots pedestrian crossings for blind

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Traffic at the capital's Sonthor Muk intersection. Hong Menea

Ministry moots pedestrian crossings for blind

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has requested that alarms be installed at pedestrian crossings, in order to assist blind people cross busy roads. At present, no such system exists in the Kingdom.

Ministry secretary of state Em Chan Makara offered the suggestion as he addressed the May 30 opening ceremony of a “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, International Human Rights Standards and National Legal Standards in the Protection of Persons with Disabilities”, workshop in Preah Sihanouk province.

The ministry explained that the workshop provided new skills to the members of the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Disability Action Council, who are indispensable players in achieving the effectiveness of the implementation of the convention.

“Many of the streets in Phnom Penh – and several other major centres – are being prepared with infrastructure that is suitable for the disabled,” said Chan Makara.

“Each pedestrian crossing at the traffic lights needs an audible sound, so blind people will know when it is safe to cross,” he added.

He noted that the government considers support for the disabled as one of its highest priorities, and has implemented several laws and policies which ensure non-discrimination, equal opportunities, and full participation in society to the disabled.

Vin Vichet, the leader of the Blind New Generation advocacy group, expressed his support for the idea of audible pedestrian crossing alarms.

As a blind person, he believed the innovative solution had the potential to make the Kingdom’s busiest centres more accessible to the sight-impaired.

He recommended that a thorough study of the concept be conducted, as other infrastructure for the disabled had proven to be less than effective, however well intentioned.

“There have been paths and pavements that were designated for the use of the blind in the past, but the general public was sometimes unaware of the rules for such locations, and parked motorcycles and cars on the paths. This meant they could not be navigated by the sight-impaired,” he explained.

He hoped that the traffic light crossing plan would go ahead, but be accompanied by a public education campaign.


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