Barrier Free Disability Japan Wheelchair

Disability group claims width mandated by Tokyo accessibility ordinance insufficient for wheelchairs

“In the group's tests, which looked into whether wheelchair users could enter the bathroom without making contact with walls, most motorized wheelchairs failed while all the manual wheelchairs passed.”

From Kyodo

February 18th 2019

TOKYO – A group representing disabled people in Japan has said the doorway width stipulated in a planned amendment of Tokyo’s barrier-free ordinance for hotels is unlikely to be wide enough for many wheelchairs.

The amendment, which the metropolitan government aims to bring into effect in September, less than a year before the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, will require new hotels with more than 1,000 square meters of total floor space or facilities expanding by 1,000 square meters from the beginning of September to ensure guest room doorways are more than 80 centimeters wide and bathroom doorways over 70 cm wide.

The metropolitan government set the requirement based on Japanese Industrial Standards for wheelchairs.

The envisioned ordinance also calls for new or renovated hotels of the required size to eliminate steps around roads, parking lots and hotel rooms.

But the nonprofit Japan National Assembly Of Disabled Peoples’ International said its tests have found that most motorized wheelchairs could not pass through a bathroom doorway of the stipulated width.

“We welcome Tokyo’s move as few wheelchair-user-friendly hotels are now available, but we want them to revise their amendment based on our tests rather than theoretical discussions,” said Masayoshi Imanishi, a member of the assembly.

In the group’s tests, which looked into whether wheelchair users could enter the bathroom without making contact with walls, most motorized wheelchairs failed while all the manual wheelchairs passed.

All five types of wheelchair used in the tests were less than 70 cm in width, but motorized wheelchairs were larger lengthways with most over 1 meter. Therefore, the motorized wheelchairs need a wider hallway and doorway to turn into the bathroom, the group said.

Based on their tests, the assembly has requested the Tokyo government revise the required width of bathroom doorways to at least 75 cm and hallways to over 1 meter.

Following the request, the metropolitan government tweaked the draft amendment urging hotel operators to install bathroom doorways that are wider than 75 cm.

The current barrier-free ordinance only requests accommodation facilities have rooms for wheelchair users. The revised ordinance will be the first case in Japan that regulates the wheelchair accessibility of hotel rooms, according to the Tokyo metropolitan government.

The metropolitan government estimates up to 850 barrier-free rooms are needed in the capital alone each day during the games.

Currently, there is a shortfall of about 300 rooms and the metropolitan government aims to make up the deficit by ensuring there are more regular rooms made accessible.

During the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year, a huge number of people are also expected to visit the capital and its vicinities, likely helping the Japanese government reach its stated target to attract 40 million foreign travelers to the country in 2020.

A government official said Tokyo wants to see various types of hotel rooms available, as the central government requests accommodation facilities make over 1 percent of their total guest rooms accessible for wheelchair users from September.

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