Experts outline options available for people with disabilities to raise issues before authorities and developers
Raise complaints with authorities to see accessibility in Dubai improve, say experts
The current Dubai Universal Design Code has specific requirements for entertainment areas, public spaces, buildings and transport systems to make them easy to access for people with disabilities.
“One of the requirements is that in theatres there should be seating arrangements at different levels, some in the middle, front and back, because people have different needs,” said Elie Ghoussoub, principal consultant health, safety and accessibility with WSP, an engineering solutions company.
Arrangements can be made in older theatres for portable ramps, platform lifts and removable seats, which could be taken out to accommodate wheelchairs.
“In reality in terms of entertainment, many things can be done so people with disabilities have a seamless experience,” he said.
Regarding restricting wheelchair users to the front row of cinemas, he said that most people struggle to view films from that vantage point.
“The first two rows is not where anyone would want to sit. This is particularly so for people who have medical conditions that make mobility difficult in terms of moving their neck for an extended period of time, not just for people in wheelchairs. They would be very uncomfortable sitting in the front,” Mr Ghoussoub said.
He suggested wheelchair users could also reach out to the Community Development Authority to raise problems regarding access.
“The CDA has a procedure in place to follow up with owners of the facilities to sort out arrangements and provide better access,” Mr Ghoussoub said.
Platform or chair lifts should be operational for the duration that facilities are open to the public, he added.
“Platform lifts should be of a design that people with disabilities should be able to use unaided. That is the ideal for them, to use it independently," he said. "But what happens is that people are not trained to operate these properly. If this needs someone with special technical knowledge, then if falls on the operator of the facility to ensure that the system is usable.”