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LCQ13: Barrier-free environment and facilities in rural areas
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Han-pan and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Stephen Sui, in the Legislative Council today (May 10):


     It is the Government's long-standing policy objective to provide barrier-free access and facilities for people in need (including persons with disabilities) so that they can freely access premises and make use of community facilities and services. However, over the years the Government has neither formulated policy nor provided financial resources to improve the barrier-free environment of quite a number of indigenous villages that have been relocated to rural areas by the authorities, thus causing persons with disabilities and the elderly in these villages huge inconvenience in terms of access and delaying emergency rescue services. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of (i) the number of requests for the provision or enhancement of barrier-free facilities in rural areas received and (ii) the number of related projects completed, in each of the past five years, together with the number of projects in progress currently and their expected completion dates (broken down by District Council district and type of facilities);

(2) whether it has formulated guidelines on the provision of barrier-free facilities in rural areas; if so, of the details of the guidelines, as well as the dates on which such guidelines were last reviewed and revised; if not, whether it will consider formulating such guidelines; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether it has any plan to conduct a comprehensive survey on barrier-free environment in rural areas and to strengthen the role of District Access Officers of District Offices in improving the barrier-free environment in rural areas; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) has been applicable to Hong Kong since August 31, 2008. Under Article 9 of the Convention, all government departments should take appropriate measures to eliminate obstacles and barriers to accessibility, so as to ensure that barrier-free access to premises, transportation, and facilities and services open or provided to the public in both urban and rural areas, is available to persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others.

     In order to achieve the above policy objective, the Government has, on the one hand, provided barrier-free access and facilities for people in need through legislation, administrative measures and works programmes to facilitate their access to premises and their use of community facilities. On the other hand, the Government has strived to promote and implement the vision of a barrier-free society in collaboration with the rehabilitation sector, the business sector and the community. Over the years, government departments have launched various works programmes in areas under their purview to enhance barrier-free environment.

     In consultation with the Home Affairs Department (HAD) and the Development Bureau, my reply to the three parts of the question raised by the Hon Chan Han-pan is as follows:

(1) The information provided by HAD is at Annex.

(2) Regarding the existing facilities provided by various government departments in rural areas, the design work for such facilities is carried out according to the prevailing policies and guidelines established by the Development Bureau and Transport and Housing Bureau, such as the "Transport Planning and Design Manual" promulgated by the Transport Department (TD).

     Regarding the design of road infrastructure and public transport facilities, TD meets with organisations of persons with disabilities regularly to collect their opinions, exchange views on the problems they encounter in the daily use of such facilities, and updates the "Transport Planning and Design Manual" where necessary to ensure that barrier-free road infrastructure and public transport facilities are designed to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. The "Transportation Planning and Design Manual" was last updated in 2015.

(3) Since December 2010, individual government bureaux and departments have appointed Access Co-ordinators and Access Officers to co-ordinate and manage accessibility issues for the premises and facilities (including premises and facilities in rural areas) under their management, with a view to facilitating access to the premises and use of the services and facilities by people in need. Access Officers are also responsible for regular inspections of the barrier-free facilities and installations on the premises, and taking follow-up action when necessary to ensure that suitable barrier-free facilities are provided at these venues.

     Rural residents, Rural Committees or District Council members concerned may propose to the government departments as appropriate for improvement to the barrier-free facilities of rural areas. The relevant government departments will consider whether these works may be carried out, having regard to factors such as the feasibility of the works, resource allocation and views of local community.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:55
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