(25 March 2018, Hong Kong) TREATS, a local charity and non-governmental organization which aims to promote inclusive society, has conducted a survey on the “Accessibility of Shopping Malls in Hong Kong on the Participation of Disabled and Visually Impaired Persons” from November 2017 to January 2018. To understand the barrier-free situation of our shopping malls, we visited 25 shopping malls in Hong Kong for onsite investigations to assess whether the basic facilities of the shopping centers has met the needs of people with different abilities.
The survey found that the society generally lacks awareness of the criteria od a barrier-free environment and the needs of people with physical disabilities and visually impaired. It showed that around 70% of the mall’s design is not up to standard, lacking of relevant guides and touch-sensitive maps for visually impaired people. “There is a lack of these facilities. I am always uncertain about where I am in mall. It is difficult to get to the inquiries and other places. Even if I have the address of the restaurant, it is very difficult to get there. If there is no braille displayed outside the toilet to help us distinguish between men’s and women’s toilets, it will also cause inconvenience.” Jason, one of the visually impaired guests, shared. For wheelchair users, they stated that the biggest difficulty for them is that there is no automatic door and it is not easy to enter the shopping arcade. Even if it has the relevant design, there are some deficiencies in the environment. For example, some of the ramps and lifts are located at the back door and people with visual imparities would need to pass through the garbage room. Sometimes it is necessary to use the “cargo” to get up and down. Hence, this experience has not shown any respect for the disabled.
In addition to physical obstacles, there are also invisible obstacles for people with disabilities. 90% of the visually impaired and visually impaired respondents said they have been treated badly by shops while 80% have faced discrimination by the general public, including unfriendly eyes, unfriendly speech and so on.
TREATS would like to urge the Government, the store operators, the traders and the public to work together and improve the present situation. One of our interviewees also said that the Government should re-examine the suitability of the relevant legislation and step up enforcement to ensure that the shopping malls can meet the requirements of a barrier-free environment. Shops and the public understand that everyone has the right to use the mall to prevent discrimination. The owner of the mall can consult the opinions of the injured people from the design stage and fully consider it before construction to build a more suitable space for all people.