By Lydia GomezKUALA LUMPUR: By 2012, all public buses and buildings in the country have to be disabled-friendly.
Disabled Persons Development Department director Noraini Mohd Hashim has set the deadline for a plan she describes as a "short-term target" so that infrastructure for the disabled is in place by 2020.
"We have a lot of work to do. Thailand and Singapore are already ahead of us, so we, too, need to move faster," Noraini said as she revealed the department's goals for the disabled at the National Conference on Accessibility and Universal Design for the disabled yesterday.
Top on her list is to get the cooperation of public transport service providers.
"The department cannot work alone. We (non-governmental organisations and local authorities) have to join forces and work collectively. Together, we can come up with a barrier-free environment for all," she said.
Statistics from last November showed there are 277,509 disabled people registered with the department.
The figure, however, may be fewer than the actual number since it is not compulsory for the disabled to register with the department.
Noraini said the department did not make it mandatory for the disabled to register.
"It is their right to register but we do not want to make it compulsory. We just encourage them (to register)."
Among the benefits those registered would get are financial assistance of RM300 a month for those earning below RM1,200, a RM150 monthly allowance for the unemployed and a launching grant of RM2,700 for those who want to start a business.
The government also provides help to those who want to buy prosthetics.
She said the disabled included the aged as they face similar problems.