Disabled in… government

Quick quiz


The stairway pictured here leads to:

A: Heaven

B: An open bank vault with $10 million inside

C: The disabled toilet

Sadly to neither A or B. Simply C

Feeling mad?


Or just resigned?

I took this photo at a fairly new Malaysian government office block in Cyberjaya last week trying to collect a new visa.

Under Malaysian planning laws all new buildings are meant to have accessible facilities.

And indeed the Expat Service Centre did have a disabled loo (with all the vagaries of what meets Malaysia’s definition of acceptable as opposed to accessible)

Problem was the architects forgot about the ACCESS part!!!

Good job there were two burly security guards around to carry me up the steps.

And check out the vehicle entrance here. No lower section in the kerb way from the vehicle entrance either. Guess disabled people aren’t really welcome at all.


What kind of message does this send? Malaysia signed up to the  ‘Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asia-Pacific Region’ in 1994.

It followed up with the ‘Persons with Disabilities Act’ in 2008 which was designed to iron out the inequalities between the able bodied and disabled community. But it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Accessibility has got stuck in a quagmire of legislation between the Town and Country Planning act, the Street Drainage and Building Act which is interpreted under the Uniform Building Bylaws and then there’s an amendment which meant that new buildings have to meet the ‘Malaysian Standard Code of Practice on Access for Disabled Person’ and existing buildings have 3 years to comply or face fines.

BUT while the Malaysian Standard code of practice was introduced in 2003 buildings are NOT required to comply under the Uniform Building Bylaws.

So guess what happens with all this conflicting legislation?

Sweet FA.

At a MATEC 2014 science conference it was noted that understanding the concept of Universal Design, i.e. access for all type of society, was still low in Malaysia.


My report card reads: Should do better








If a picture paints a thousand words…


Whaddya think of this logo?

Pretty cool right?

A disabled icon looking like someone in a wheelchair going places, not just some static body becalmed in the middle of a blue lagoon.

My cousin’s husband Simon just told me about this project Accessible Icon (He’s a graphic designer).

And if an icon is meant to represent something or someone or somewhere isn’t this a great place to start changing attitudes about the disabled?

We aren’t just people stranded in the middle of nowhere unable to do things without assistance.

We can and do get out the house, do the shopping, catch a plane, go places… (oooh scary prospect that one for some (other people) ).

If you’ve got five minutes take a look through the website. I’m not advocating defacing public signage, but what’s that saying about the beat of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the planet becomes a typhoon on the other?



Disabled In…Updates

It’s not the silly season just yet


So working my way through a bunch of post last week in my mail box and I was rather stunned to see a letter postmarked EIIR.

And then on closer inspection ‘Buckingham Palace.’


A letter from the Royals.

I’d forgotten about the letter I’d handed over to one of the Royal staff at my Dad’s investiture. And I hadn’t really expected an answer.

But as my old boss at AP used to say: No ask-ie, no get-tie. So I asked and I got.

What did I ask? For William and Harry to support my blog on disability, given the work they do with disabled groups – Harry especially with Invictus Games.

I didn’t get quite what I asked. A polite: We can’t, because then we’d have to do it for every request.

So not quite By Royal Appointment just yet 😦

But that doesn’t mean Harry @KensingtonRoyal and William @DukeCambridgeUK can’t follow my blog on Twitter @tvsteph does it guys???

Back to Africa

Anyway as it’s holiday time, later this month I’m going back to Kenya – as I want to see some wildlife in the wild.

I won’t just be watching wildebeest on migration though, I’ll also be looking at what life is like for the  wheelchair bound there.

Remember my blog about Australian charity Wheelchairs For Kids?

I’m going to be looking at what it’s like to receive a wheelchair. I’ll be hooking up with Worldvision and hopefully Pek Care International to see their wheelchair distribution programmes.

And of course I’ll be taking a look at disabled facilities in some of the places I’ll be staying. Some will be brand new, others already tried and tested. Watch out for my reviews.

I also hope to catch up with Kenya’s MS Society chairman Kimani Kamau on what’s been happening with those guys since their inaugural meeting last year. If #MS is rare in Malaysia, it’s even rarer in Africa.

Doctors are only just starting to recognise the illness there. And with the price of medication so astronomical, treatment is probably out of reach for the vast majority of people.

It’s another potential Vitamin D link. Because most African skin is dark it can’t manufacture enough Vitamin D – thought to be linked in someway to the illness. I touched on that in my doco.

And finally…

Last update from me for now. The Star newspaper in Malaysia featured a nice piece about me and my adventures in a wheelchair and having MS. Hopefully it will help kick start my consultancy into action.

See ya back in August