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S'pore's first all-hours audible traffic signals to aid sight-impaired pedestrians part of inclusive society master plan

SINGAPORE — Audible traffic signals will be installed at 325 pedestrian crossings in 10 town centres with higher proportions of residents with visual impairment as part of a master plan launched on Wednesday (Aug 17) to build a more inclusive society.

S'pore's first all-hours audible traffic signals to aid sight-impaired pedestrians part of inclusive society master plan
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  • All-hours audible traffic signals to be installed at 325 pedestrian crossings in 10 town centres with higher proportions of residents with visual impairment
  • Also, all building owners will have to provide basic accessibility features throughout a building whenever any addition and alteration works are undertaken, through legislation targeted for early 2023
  • These initiatives are part of Enabling Masterplan 2030, which sets out the vision for Singapore as an inclusive society in 2030

SINGAPORE — Audible traffic signals will be installed at 325 pedestrian crossings in 10 town centres with higher proportions of residents with visual impairment as part of a master plan launched on Wednesday (Aug 17) to build a more inclusive society.

About 1,300 audible traffic signals are already installed around Singapore, but these new ones will be the first to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Typically, the others are available only from 7am to 9pm.

The project, to be implemented by the Ministry of Transport and Land Transport Authority, is part of the Enabling Masterplan 2030, setting out a vision for Singapore in 2030 as an inclusive society, and catering to the needs of the disabled and their caregivers.

Another initiative will mean all building owners will have to provide basic accessibility features throughout a building whenever any addition and alteration works are undertaken, through legislation targeted for early 2023.

The latest master plan, Singapore’s fourth enabling master plan, was put together by a 27-member steering committee co-chaired by Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Social and Family Development), and Mr Gan Seow Kee, vice chairperson of the Singapore Business Federation.

The plan, launched by the two co-chairs at a visit to social service agency Awwa’s new home and day activity centre, features 29 recommendations under three strategic themes in 14 focal areas.

The three themes are: To strengthen support for lifelong learning in a fast-changing economy, to enable persons with disabilities to live independently, and to create physical and social environments that are inclusive to persons with disabilities. 

AUDIBLE TRAFFIC SIGNALS PART OF PUSH FOR INCLUSIVE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS

The upcoming installation of the new audible traffic signals is part of the master plan’s aim to enhance accessibility across the areas of communications, transport, public spaces, healthcare, sports, arts and heritage, and within the communities.

Mr Chong Kwek Bin, former head of employability and employment and advocacy at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped and a member of the steering committee, said the 24-hour audible signals will greatly benefit the visually impaired, since currently they can only use these traffic lights after 7am and before 9pm. 

“The problem is (during the other periods) you don't know where the traffic pole is when there is no sound at all," he said.

"For existing traffic lights with homing signals, we hear the signal in the form of a beeping noise and we follow it to the traffic pole. But this homing signal is also turned off at night,” said Mr Chong, who himself is visually impaired.

He hopes there will be less of an issue for such audible traffic junctions to be installed near residences, where the noise from the audible junctions upsets some residents. 

"A situation may arise where nearby residents find it too loud while visually impaired users find it too soft, so varying volume levels can be pre-set, perhaps at different timings," he added.

In response to queries from TODAY, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said that the names of the town centres will be released later this year.

In its press statement, MSF said that as part of the plan, all building owners will have to provide basic accessibility features throughout a building whenever any addition and alteration works are undertaken, through legislation targeted for early 2023. 

Ms Sherena Loh, co-founder and director, Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore, said that she would like to see improvements to accommodate people with disabilities, such as making the city area more accessible and connected in order for persons with disabilities to gain employment

She also highlighted the pre-war heritage houses that pose challenges due to their high kerbs and long staircases.

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group will also work towards ensuring that all high-traffic Government websites will be more accessible to disabled communities by 2030, up from the current 61 per cent.

Assistive technologies, such as enabling larger fonts, alternate text for images, text to speech technology and greater availability of captions and subtitles for videos hosted on these websites, will be employed to cater to varying disabilities.

Building on the Government’s efforts to provide financial incentives and practical support to place more persons with disabilities in employment, the steering committee also recommended enhancing support for persons with disabilities to work in jobs according to their interests and abilities. 

MSF said that it will work with public agencies, disability social service agencies and industry champions to develop alternative employment models such as micro-jobs and increase the number of disability-inclusive employers.

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health, who received the report on behalf of the Government, described the master plan as a “significant piece of work”.

He said it describes how an inclusive Singapore would look by 2030, and provides a framework to be able to track its progress.

“I am pleased to accept the recommendations on behalf of the Government, and have begun the process of turning this plan into action,” he said.

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visually impaired persons with disabilities

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