Singapore – The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is accelerating the pace of accessibility upgrading for buildings and the built environment through incentives, legislation and community partnerships. These initiatives complement the vision of a more inclusive Singapore that will be charted in the next Enabling Masterplan1, EMP2030.
Enhancement and Extension of Accessibility Fund2
The Accessibility Fund (AF) is an incentive scheme that provides funding support to building owners who undertake upgrading works to improve the inclusiveness of their buildings. Since its inception in 2007, the AF has supported accessibility upgrading in more than 150 buildings, with about S$20 million still available. BCA will enhance the AF by expanding the eligibility criteria to include buildings that have already been fitted with basic accessibility features.3 This is to encourage building owners to voluntarily upgrade their buildings with more UD features such as grab bars for the elderly, child-friendly toilets and lactation rooms, to improve support for the needs of the elderly, families with young children and nursing mothers. Building owners can receive up to S$100,000 to fund these upgrades.
BCA will also continue to accept applications for funding support for accessibility upgrading in older, non-barrier free buildings until end March 2027. In addition, an interim payment4 option is now available to better support building owners to meet their cashflow needs for costlier accessibility upgrading works involving lifts.
Mandatory Basic Accessibility Upgrading for Existing Inaccessible Buildings
To further accelerate accessibility upgrading in older buildings, BCA will require the owners of existing commercial or institutional buildings which are not barrier-free to put in place basic accessibility features when any addition and alteration works are carried out within their building.5 BCA will implement this requirement in early 2023.
BCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kelvin Wong said, “We want to provide the necessary basic infrastructure to support not just individual patrons, but alsobusiness owners looking to tap onto a wider pool of talents. A study6 in 2018 has shown that companies championing accessibility see 28 percent greater annual revenue and a profit margin 30 percent higher than their peers. And in Singapore, we want to be an enabler for them.”
Improving Accessibility of Public Spaces Through Community Partnerships
Some public spaces in between buildings and infrastructure still pose challenges for persons with disabilities (PwDs). BCA has been working with Our Accessible City@CBD (Raffles Place), a community partnership comprising representatives from the PwD community, built environment sector, social service agencies and the public sector, to identify issues, co-create solutions and enhance the accessibility of public spaces.
1 The Enabling Masterplans are roadmaps for the government and the community to work together, to support persons with disabilities (PwDs). More information is available on Ministry of Social and Family development’s website: go.gov.sg/emp3site
2 Since its inception in 2007, more than 150 buildings have tapped on the AF to better cater to their patrons, staff and visitors, including persons with disabilities (PwDs) and the elderly. More information on the AF is available on the BCA website: go.gov.sg/bcaud-af
3 The AF was initially available only to buildings built prior to the implementation of basic accessibility requirements in 1990. Under the enhanced AF, buildings built between 1990 and the implementation of the Code on Accessibility in the Built Environment 2013, i.e. 1 April 2014, will be eligible for funding to support the implementation of UD features.
4 This one-time interim payment will be available to buildings that undergo accessibility upgrading projects with a minimum value of $200,000 which involve lift installation works.
5 Existing commercial or institutional buildings with gross floor area of more than 500 square metres carrying out addition and alteration works and which are required to put in place basic accessibility features under the new requirement, will not be eligible for the AF for basic accessibility upgrading works. The AF is meant to support voluntary efforts from the industry.
6 Research finding from Accenture’s Getting to Equal 2018: The Disability Inclusion Advantage report