SINGAPORE – More building owners can tap funding meant to encourage them to upgrade their facilities to be more friendly to those with disabilities, families with young children or the elderly.
The eligibility criteria for the existing Accessibility Fund (AF) will be widened so buildings that already have basic accessibility features can also tap it, said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Monday (Aug 1).
Applications will be accepted till March 31, 2027.
These moves are meant to incentivise pre-1990 building owners to carry out basic accessibility upgrading works, as well as encourage those who already have basic features to voluntarily upgrade for more universal design features, said BCA.
They are also meant to complement the vision of a more inclusive Singapore that will be charted in the Enabling Masterplan 2030, a road map for disability inclusion here that is set to be unveiled later this year.
The $40 million AFwas rolled out in 2007, and has about $20 million still available.
As at June this year, more than 150 private building owners have tapped the fund to retrofit their buildings with accessibility features, said BCA.
The AF co-funds up to 80 per cent of the construction cost for basic accessibility features such as ramps or lifts to provide entry into the building and within the entrance level, accessible toilets, and signage to provide directions to the accessibility features.
It co-funds up to 60 per cent of the construction cost for universal design features such as additional grab bars to help the elderly, child-friendly sanitary facilities, lactation rooms, diaper-changing stations, and features for persons with visual or hearing impairment such as hearing enhancement systems or braille or tactile features.
Accessibility upgrading for pre-1990 buildings that do not undergo addition and alternation works is currently carried out on a voluntary basis as the Code on Barrier-free Accessibility in Buildings was only introduced in 1990 and could not be applied retrospectively.
BCA also announced an interim payment option for projects with a minimum value of $200,000 and involving lift installation works.
This one-time interim payment can be claimed at any point during the project, which will help building owners address cashflow challenges for costlier accessibility upgrading works, said the authority.
BCA also said that from early next year, it will require owners of existing commercial or institutional buildings which are not barrier-free to put in place basic accessibility features when any addition and alteration works are carried out within their building.
One company that has tapped the fund is Panasonic Factory Solutions Asia Pacific, which used the monies to add a toilet, passenger lift and car park lot for people with disabilities (PWDs) as well as ramps and a nursing room at its premises in Tuas.
Its human resource general manager Celia Quek said the upgrades allow the firm to tap a larger employment pool such as senior workers or PWDs and also better support nursing mothers returning to work after maternity leave.
BCA also gave an update on its work with Our Accessible City@CBD (Raffles Place), a community partnership comprising representatives from the PWD community, built environment sector, social service agencies and the public sector, to enhance the accessibility of public spaces.
There is now better way-finding signage and connectivity between buildings.
The team has also conducted surveys in May and June this year to gather feedback from community partners and PWDs on the suggested accessible routes and solutions.