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HomeSeperatorMEPA NewsletterSeperatorOUTLOOK 11SeperatorMEPA and KNPD Work Hand-In-Hand to Ensure Access for All

MEPA and KNPD Work Hand-In-Hand to Ensure Access for All

Joseph CamilleriBoth KNPD (Kummisjoni Nazzjonali Persuni b’Dizabilita) and MEPA ensure that all developments are designed and developed in line with accessibility requirements. Krista Micallef Trigona speaks to KNPD Chairman, Joseph Camilleri.

KNPD works in collaboration with non-government organisations in Malta in co-ordinating and voicing the Maltese government policies on disability matters. One of the Commission’s most important and ongoing responsibilities is the implementation of the Access for All principle, whereby MEPA and KNPD work hand-in-hand to ensure that new developments and all projects get properly vetted, under the Access for All guidelines. The two organisations, have over the years established various guidelines, explaining building requirements. 

“The commission is responsible for the anti-discrimination legislation Equal Opportunities (Person with Disability) act 2000, which focuses on accessibility as one of the six pillars which could be better implanted and monitored,” Mr Camilleri says. “Whilst the Commission is focused on this matter, MEPA, with the assistance of a person appointed by the Commission, vets applications of buildings and modifications.”

“The agreement between the Commission and MEPA was that vetting and compliance would be introduced  gradually – commencing with new buildings, while older buildings would be addressed only when modifications had to be made or when complaints were received,” Mr Camilleri says

However, two years ago, due to the anticipating reform at MEPA, OPM requested that the two organisations determine how the services offered under the  Access For All guidelines can be utilised in a more efficient manner. “Major changes came about as a result of the reform. Prior to e-applications established by MEPA, things were done manually. But this online application enabled one to download and catalogue it instantly,” Mr Camilleri says.

The Access for All project, is an ongoing effort and was one of the first issues that the commission had  taken up. This project is also aimed at audiences who are not classified as disabled so include the elderly as well as people who have children. “The idea of accessibility is aimed at increasing independency, allowing people to freely go to school and to work,” Mr Camilleri explains. “It is about creating an environment within the public and the private sector which is accessible for all – as otherwise, it will result in such people having to be institutionalised.”

But overall, there has been an improvement in accessibility on a national scale. “To date, progress has been and continues to be made. There are more building which are accessible now then before,” he says.

“Still, the biggest improvement that I would like to see is in the touristic sector,” Mr Camilleri identifies. “Malta’s location is ideal. It is regarded as safe and friendly and has a lot of potential to become more popular with the elderly as well as disabled tourists, but there are 80 million disabled people in Europe which we do not cater for!” Mr Camilleri says. “And this is resulting in Malta losing money to other countries such as Spain, who have become more accessible.”

He concludes by stating that, “a place need not look like a hospital when building with accessibility in mind, on the contrary, making your home more accessible could be done so in a very discrete way!”

For more information on the Access for All kindly visit website www.knpd.org/