April 23, 2024

As complaints mount about the Braille tiles installed on various sidewalks in Baguio, the organization of persons with disability with support of the city council asked the City Engineering Office and the Baguio District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways to consider changing the type of material used in areas that have not been bid out.
Instead of ceramic tiles, the city council and the Federation of Persons with Disability in Baguio asked the CEO and BCDEO to consider installing rubber Braille instead. Similar to those used in Europe, Japan, and Korea, rubber is less slippery and easier to be “felt” by the cane of the visually-impaired, they said.
“‘Yung sementadong sidewalk at ‘yung tiles ay parehong ma-tigas. Mas mahirap maramdaman ng cane ‘yun kumpara sa rubber na iba ang texture kaya mas madali,” said John Paredes, president of the Pines City Federation for the Visually-impaired.
Paredes said it is not realistic to persuade the public not to step on the tiles based on the premise that the tiles are exclusive for the visually-impaired.
In the session of the city council last Aug. 9, Paredes recognized that tactile paving is a universally-accepted standard in helping the blind and the visually-impaired navigate streets, but the CEO and BCDEO should have considered the terrain of Baguio, the presence of indicators to guide them, such as line perimeters on sidewalks, and the level of familiarity of PWDs on how and what the Braille tactiles are for.
Paredes said the project should have considered the “principle of universal design,” which means that while surface indicators are primarily for the blind and the visually-impaired, its features should be comfortable to both “sighted and non-sighted.”
He confirmed the Braille tiles, especially those installed at slanted areas, are slippery and could pose danger.
To lessen accidents, he said the materials used must be changed and preferably installed in areas where the blind and visually-impaired often pass.
Persons with Disability Affairs Office head Samuel Aquino added the CEO and BCDEO should have coordinated with the PDAO so that PWDs would be educated about the use of surface indicators.
Aside from installing surface indicators, he said the CEO and the BCDEO should also remove trees, posts, and fire hydrants at the center of sidewalks, as these too hamper the mobility not just of people with problems with their sight but even to those who can see.
City Engineer Victor Olpindo said the CEO is removing and transferring these structures.
He said this came about when the city government widened the sidewalks with the implementation of the Anti-Road Obstruction Ordinance and the national directive that sought to recover roads that have been encroached upon.
Councilors also recognize the project is noble but since it is the first time that navigational facilities such as tactile pavements are being introduced in Baguio, the able and the differently-abled are all adjusting.
The installation of tactile blocks is a project of the city government and BCDEO in compliance with the Magna Carta for the Disabled and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. – Rimaliza A. Opiña