Only 42 out of a total of 334 commercial outlets on the Gzira/Sliema seafront are physically accessible, according to a new report issued by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD).
Following complaints regarding physical accessibility, officials from the Commission carried out onsite inspections at all the commercial outlets located on the Gzira and Sliema front between November last year and April this year.
The figures speak for themselves. Out of a total of 334 commercial outlets, 292 outlets do not conform to the Access for All Design Guidelines 2011 (AADG 2011) issued by the Commission. Of these, 15 outlets offer an alternative while 18 had works in progress at the time of the inspections.
A closer look reveals the following figures. 187 outlets only require the installation of a temporary ramp to become accessible. 55 require the implementation of minor works such as alterations in the main entrance door while 11 require major works such as the installation of a passenger lift.
The report follows a similar one undertaken last year in Valletta, which painted a similar picture. Onsite inspections carried out in Republic Street and Merchants’ Street between June and July last year showed that, out of a total of 375 commercial outlets, only 31 outlets conformed to the AADG 2011 while 344 outlets did not.
Of these, 278 outlets require only the installation of a temporary ramp while 32 require the implementation of minor works and nine require major works.
The reports include photos of the entrances of all the outlets, with detailed measurements.
There are 19,261 persons with a disability registered with the Commission and 14,827 of these have a physical impairment. Yet physical accessibility remains a major obstacle in Malta.
“While a lot has been achieved, much remains to be done,” said CRPD Commissioner Oliver Scicluna. “Persons with a disability are consumers, employers and employees; those businesses who choose to remain inaccessible are missing out on a section of their potential clientele.”
Just last summer, the Accessibility Standards for all in a Built Environment Regulations were formally announced. The standards used to be a Maltese National Standard adopted by the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority which came into effect upon publication of a notice on 10 April 2015, but are now directly transposed into Maltese law.
Meanwhile, the Malta Business Disability Forum, a platform chaired by the CRPD and composed of representatives from the disability, employment and civil society sectors, has been discussing the reports and will shortly present proposals on how to increase the physical accessibility of businesses.