OKU dialouge highlights issues faced

Izah Azahari

The need for a Person with Different Ability (OKU) Card as well as better implementation and enforcement of differently-abled parking and building accessibility were among the suggestions made during a dialogue with youth at Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam Auditorium recently.

This was shared by Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari as the chairperson of DBNS Youth Advisory Group during the session, organised by the National Youth Strategy and Policy (DBNS) Youth Advisory Group in collaboration with the Council for the Welfare of Persons with Different Abilities (MKOKU).

The dialogue saw speakers from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Special Education Unit and Lifelong Learning Centre at the Ministry of Education (MoE), Land Transport Division at the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC), Authority for Building Control and Industry (ABCi) at the Ministry of Development (MoD) and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) sharing their services as well as programmes and initiatives for the differently-abled community.

The speakers answered questions from the participants regarding several issues such as getting driving permits, the regulations on differently-able parking spaces, the usability of public facilities such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and ramps.

One of the challenges shared by participants was the lack of accessible facilities and services. One participant said she was unable to continue her education because her school did not offer wheelchair facilities. Another participant reiterated that providing accessible facilities will encourage more differently-abled people to become independent and be active members of the society.

ABOVE & BELOW: Participants giving presentations during the dialogue session. PHOTOS: DBNS YOUTH ADVISORY GROUP

Community acceptance and social inclusion were also raised during the session. The need for more activities to encourage engagements between differently-abled people with abled-bodied people, such as “a day in my wheelchair”, can offer more understanding on the experiences of the OKU community, according to the participants.

One popular recommendation broached by the participants was the introduction of OKU Card for identification to get the necessary services, such as when queueing at public counters. Building accessible websites and mobile apps using talkback and voice command for visually impaired users to improve job applications for OKU users were also brought up.

The event was attended by 40 differently-abled youth members from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the MKOKU umbrella, including the National Association for the Hearing Impaired (OKP), Brunei Darussalam National Association of the Blind (BDNAB), Pusat Ehsan, Centre for Children with Special Needs (KACA), Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Association (PAPDA), Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei, students from the SEU and Pusat Bahagia.

The dialogue session was the eighth outreach session conducted by the DBNS Youth Advisory Group.