Visually impaired people with guide dogs will have access to all public parks

Bangkok’s City Hall has decided to open all public parks in Bangkok to visually impaired people with guide dogs and will arrange for shelters for guide dogs at its hospitals.

The decision to give greater access to the City Hall’s public services to the visually impaired was made by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) after a meeting Tuesday between city officials and Ms. Sirin Techawongtham, alias Nong Sai, a visually impaired woman with Thailand’s first guide dog, named Luther, which was trained in the US and brought to Thailand to help her navigate independently.

Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang wrote in his Facebook post on Tuesday that there are laws regarding services and facilities to be provided to disabled people, but he admitted that there is no school to train guide dogs in Thailand.

After the discussion on Tuesday, the governor said he had instructed the Environment Office, which looks after all public parks in Bangkok, to brief park officials and security guards about access for visually impaired people with guide dogs and to display advisory notices to other park visitors about how to behave around guide dogs.

As for access to hospitals and health offices run by the BMA, the governor said that the meeting proposed that each hospital should arrange for a space to shelter guide dogs so they will not disturb other patients.

There is, however, a major obstacle facing the visually impaired, whether they have a guide dog or not. Crossing any road in Bangkok is a highly risky exercise due to the lack of discipline on the part of drivers, who often do not stop at red lights or pedestrian crossings.

Motorcycles using sidewalks is an additional hazard, which the governor admitted is a bad habit that is difficult to change, despite tough penalties for offenders.

Regarding the proposal to add audible signals to traffic lights, the governor said that work is underway to install as many audible traffic signals as possible, adding that the BMA will also adjust the level of footpaths or add ramps to the road surface for the disabled.

 

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