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NGO pushes for more disabled-friendly restrooms

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
In Phnom Penh, there are only 15 public restrooms that are disabled-friendly. KT/Mai Vireak

The Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation is urging the public and private sectors to implement disabled-friendly restroom standards by expanding entrances and providing ramps.

Ngin Saorath, CDPO executive director, yesterday said during a forum in Phnom Penh that despite previous efforts to make access to toilets easier, there are still challenges that need to be addressed.

“In Phnom Penh, there are only 15 public restrooms that are disabled-friendly,” Mr Saorath said. “We should provide ramps for pregnant women, the elderly, children and those with disabilities.”

“What we want to see is something acceptable, so that disabled people can use a public toilet without help from others,” he added.

Eu Ly, a 54-year-old resident who lives with a disability, said while there are some public restrooms that accommodate disabled people, others are inaccessible.

“Some restrooms have narrow entrances, which require others to help us go inside. So what is important is that we have a ramp for people in a wheelchair like me,” Mr Ly said. “There should also be a way for blind and deaf people to access public restrooms.”

He added that private institutions such as banks, airports, restaurants and canteens, must also accommodate people with disabilities.

“For example, let’s say I’m at a bank and I need to fill out a form. The table I need to use to fill out the form would be too high because I’m in a wheelchair,” Mr Ly said. “It’s the same case at an airport – those tables are too high and only those who can stand can use them. So I would like to ask the government to please consider these points.”

Mean Vibol Ratanak, who is also in a wheelchair, said many restrooms in recreational places lack access for those who are disabled.

“Some bathroom entrances are too narrow, have stairs or are unhygienic,” Mr Vibol Ratanak said. “When I visit these places I force myself to not consume food or beverages so that I can avoid using a bathroom.”

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Nuon Pharath said there are more than ten public bathrooms in the capital that are disabled-friendly.

He noted that the problem was not in the design of the restrooms but in their numbers.

“This is a shortage that we have to work on,” he said. “I support what [CDPO] wants so that we can address the concerns and needs of citizens with disabilities.”

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