People with disabilities will find it more convenient to live in and visit Thailand, as the Government is attaching greater importance to building public facilities for the disabled.
Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People” on 23 February 2013, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra cited the care for the disabled, the elderly, women, and children as part of the Government’s policy to tackle social disparity.
The Prime Minister stated that she wanted to see serious campaigns to make travel easier and more convenient not only for people with disabilities but also for older persons. Since Thailand is becoming an ageing country because of the growing number of older persons, she stressed the need to prepare facilities for them.
In this regard, the Prime Minister called on all agencies to act in accordance with a ministerial regulation, stipulating that all public facilities, including buildings, transportation, and other services must be made accessible for people with disabilities. Without public facilities suitable for them, disabled persons will face difficulties when traveling to various places for learning, working, or social activities.
The Prime Minister said that she was informed by many disabled persons that they had to rely on taxis for transportation, which is expensive. All relevant agencies must join hands in modifying the public transport system and pavements to make them more suitable for the disabled. Pregnant women would also benefit from the facilities. She said that society should not regard disabled and older persons as burdens. This group of people should be empowered, so that they will be able to live happily with others.
The Government wanted to see all ministries work with the private sector in order to provide disabled persons with more facilities and employment opportunities. Although many companies have given good cooperation, the Government wanted to step up the campaigns on this matter. Altogether, 17 agencies would be called for a meeting to accelerate the translation of the ministerial regulation into action.
She pointed out that various areas at Government House would be modified, so that people on wheelchairs would be able to move in and out easily. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has already adjusted rules and regulations on facilities and services for disabled persons. All government agencies should start first, since people often come for official contact. So certain facilities should be modified for the accessibility of people with disabilities, and the modification is unlikely to require high costs.
The Prime Minister said that she had learned from the Association of the Physically Handicapped of Thailand that a “universal design” had been introduced, which was suitable for the disabled, and that this design could be adjusted for the use of everyone. She said that the Government would like to see Thailand become a center for the development of such a design for both disabled and older persons.
The Government also wanted to develop tourism for people with disabilities and older persons by removing barriers that prevent them from enjoying travel. Making tourism accessible to this group of people from various countries would make Thailand better known in the world at large.