Only 42 of 334 Gżira and Sliema commercial outlets accessible to disabled persons

From a total of 334 commercial outlets on the Gżira and Sliema seafront, 292 do not conform with access for all guidelines

The vast majority of commercial outlets on the Gżira and Sliema seafront aren't physically accessible, a report by the CRPD found
The vast majority of commercial outlets on the Gżira and Sliema seafront aren't physically accessible, a report by the CRPD found

Only 42 out of 334 commercial outlets on Gżira and Sliema’s seafront are physically accessible for disabled persons, a report has found.

The report, issued by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) on Tuesday, found that 292 outlets on the two towns’ seafront do not conform with the Access for All Design Guidelines 2011 (AADG 2011) issued by the Commission.

Following complaints regarding physical accessibility, officials from the Commission carried out onsite inspections at all the commercial outlets located on the Gżira and Sliema front between November last year and April this year.

The officials found that, of the 292 outlets which didn’t comply with the guidelines, 15 offered and alternative, while 18 had works in progress at the time of the inspections.

A closer look at the findings reveal that 187 outlets required only the installation of a temporary ramp to become accessible, 55 required the implementation of minor works such as alterations in the main entrance door, while 11 required major works such as the installation of a passenger lift.

The report follows a similar exercise undertaken last year in Valletta, which painted a similar picture.

Onsite inspections carried out in Republic Street and Merchants’ Street between June and July 2018 showed that, out of a total of 375 commercial outlets, only 31 outlets conformed to the AADG 2011, while 344 outlets did not.

A breakdown of the shops in Sliema according to their degree of accessibility for disabled persons (Source: CRPD)
A breakdown of the shops in Sliema according to their degree of accessibility for disabled persons (Source: CRPD)

Of these, 278 outlets required only the installation of a temporary ramp, while 32 required the implementation of minor works and nine require major works.

The reports include photos of the entrances of all the outlets, with detailed measurements.

Physical accessibility a ‘major obstacle’

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, the CRPD said.

CRPD Commissioner Oliver Scicluna underscored that commercial outlets which did not take major to be accessible to disabled persons could be missing out on business.

“While a lot has been achieved, much remains to be done,” Scicluna said.

“Persons with a disability are consumers, employers and employees; those businesses which choose to remain inaccessible are missing out on a section of their potential clientele.”

The CRPD highlighted that, last summer, the Accessibility Standards for all in a Built Environment Regulations were formally announced.

The standards used to be a national standard adopted by the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, which came into effect upon publication of a legal notice on 10 April 2015,. They are now, howeverm 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.

The two reports are available on the CRPD website.

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