I am writing to discuss whether Hong Kong is friendly to the handicapped. From my point of view, our city is not doing enough in helping the handicapped, even though there are policies and public facilities to meet their specific needs.
In Hong Kong, there are two types of handicapped, one mentally and another one physically. Normally, the mentally handicapped are people suffering from mental illness while the physically handicapped are those who are physically disabled, deaf, blind or dumb.
Luckily, there are public facilities helping them to have a convenient and comfortable life in Hong Kong. Most public estates and transport services have handles for the physically handicapped. Our city also has slopes and electronic lifts in public transport and estates for the wheelchair users and the tactile guide pathways in most of the crossroads and public area for the blind. Our government has also tailor-made the yellow notification signal button on every traffic light for the blind, deaf and dumb. With this device, they can know when they can cross the road safely. Moreover, our government also provides sign-language interpreters in some important government events like the Chief Executive Election. There are also policies and subsidy schemes for both the mentally and physically handicapped. We even give opportunities for the handicapped to gain different life experiences in sports and workplace offered by the NGOs.
It seems like our city is friendly enough to the handicapped, yet, the above measures are not well-rounded. I usually see the yellow signal buttons on the traffic lights being very dirty and out of order. I even see there are chewing gems on that button, so how can the handicapped touch it to know when to cross to road? Moreover, the tactile guide paths for the blind are not found in very single place in Hong Kong and the slopes for the wheelchair users are often used by ordinary people and they are just blocking the way. As a result, the function of these helpful facilities cannot be fully performed. In addition, the government’s policies and subsidy schemes can only help them and their families in the short term as the policies and scheme cannot cover all of them. And the most important problem is the attitude of the general public. Many HongKongers just simply ignore the handicapped. Maybe they are just too busy scrolling their phones or some are just pretending they do not see them on streets. This means even if the handicapped have problems, they are not aware or willing to help them.
All in all, I do not think our city is doing enough. I think the government should improve the condition of the facilities and also add more to our city. Moreover, the government and the NGOs should educate the public to help and to be friendly to the handicapped. And the most efficient solution is definitely having everyone be more aware of the handicapped around us and give them a helping hand whenever we can. Only in these ways can our city be a friendly one to the handicapped.
Ofelia Fok Hiu Lam 2017-18 5C