Making life easier for PWDs: Architects help ensure building access

Conducting an Accessibility Audit for public or private institutions is nothing new for the architects of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), the integrated and accredited professional organization of architects. The Accessibility Law or Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 is known as “An Act to Enhance the Mobility of Disabled Persons by Requiring Certain Buildings, Institutions, Establishments, and Other Public Utilities To Install Facilities and Other Devices.”

UAP has audited several institutions in the past regarding Batas Pambansa Blg. 344 or the Accessibility Law for Persons with Disabilities. Noteworthy are some private institutions that have complied with this law, such as the NLEX Corp., operator of the North Luzon Expressway and its various locators, Jollibee stores, and various banking institutions. They availed of the UAP’s services on accessibility so they can better serve persons with disabilities or PWDs.

The purpose is for architects and design professionals to provide minimum requirements and standards to make public and private structures, buildings, facilities, and utilities for public use more accessible to PWDs.

These uses should even be extended to streets, highways, and public utilities including public transport terminals such as the LRT.

Last August 20, 2021, the UAP DAET-Camarines Norte Chapter, headed by its president Ma. Angelica Rodrigueza performed an accessibility audit on several building structures as requested by the provincial government of Camarines Norte, headed by governor Edgardo Tallado.

Members of the Chapter inspected building ramps, comfort rooms for PWDs, windows, doors, switches, wall finishes, floor finishes, handrails, and various equipment and accessories to make sure these are all in compliance with BP 344 or the Accessibility Law.

The audit considerations are on the safety, usability, accessibility, workability, reachability, efficiency, and orientation of the physical planning requirements of the building in relation to PWDs, especially those on wheelchairs or those using crutches and braces, the elderly, and those with mental, visual, or hearing impairment.

The building officials from the Municipal Engineering Office together with the staff of the Camarines Norte – Persons with Disability Affairs Office were present. They collaborated with the UAP Daet Chapter members in conducting the accessibility audit of SM City Daet.

The objective of this important activity carried out by the UAP Daet Chapter and its LGU partners, and supported by Davies Paints, was to help make the lives of PWDs easier through the proper design of buildings.

The Chapter has been recognized by the LGU of Daet as an Accredited Civil Society Organization and has received the UAP Presidential Special Award of Merit for Fiscal Years 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020, the UAP Bayanihan Arkitektura Award of 2021, the UAP Good Governance Award of 2021, and the Province of Camarines Norte Tourism Service Award of 2021.

The UAP Daet Camarines Norte Chapter for this fiscal year 2021 to 2022 is led by president Rodrigueza, VP for operations Ma. Lourdes Abilgos, VP for programs Inno Dominique Avila,  secretary Mae Anne Trinidad,  treasurer Ela Bernardo,  auditor Eloisa May Robas, and board of directors Neil Judd Consuelo,  Monica Amargo,  Louibelle Vargas, Luis Alberto Pandeagua, and Norberto Dating Jr.