Tactile pavements along the streets of Baguio City which were supposed to be for persons with disabilities became a hazard to both able-bodied residents and PWDs.
This textured flooring was installed last April along the walkway from Baguio Cathedral down to the junction of Bonifacio Street and General Luna Road.
The tactile paving was part of the provincial government’s goal to make the city PWD-friendly.
However, Baguio City residents, including PWDs, complained that the new paving system pose more safety risks, citing it being too slippery especially under the rain.
They aired their complaints under the comments section on the Facebook page of Baguio City’s public information office.
“Madulas po sya pag-umuulan, and kung ang PWDs po ang dadaan dyan delikado po, okay lang po sa amin pwedeng iwasan, sila hindi pwede kasi yun nga po yung purpose nyan para maguide po sila,” one user said.
“Don’t wait before a serious accident happens before taking action. Yes, it can help our visually impaired, but I think you forgot that in Baguio, it usually rains the whole year, too. This is perfect for countries na hindi masyado binabagyo at inuulan,” another user wrote.
Others shared suggestions on less-slippery materials to be used for the tiles.
“Hope the city officials would review this and look out on the safety measures, the disadvantage of plastic made material,” one user said.
“Change the material used to have more traction to prevent accidents. No one is saying that #Tactilepavements are not needed, it’s simply saying that people including and most especially PWD’s will get into accidents if those existing #Tactilepavements won’t be changed,” another user said.
Baguio LGU’s response
Following some concerns online, the provincial city government decided to disassemble them on August 11.
This decision was made with the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Baguio City District Engineering Office, and the City Engineering Office.
In a statement on Wednesday, City Administrator Bonifacio Dela Peña said that only those that can be disassembled were removed in the meantime.
Dela Peña added that local authorities were still discussing other options for the rest of the fixtures.
Tactile technology was meant to help
Dela Peña also lamented their removal, citing the installation was meant to help and not to harm.
“It was a product of research and its slippery condition has been an issue even in other countries. The only difference is that people in other countries adjusted their mindset and embraced the technology. To them, people should adjust to technology and not the other way around,” he said.
A PWD reference website called WeCapable defines tactile paving as “a navigation guide for visually impaired people.”
These tiles have bumps and ridges that blind and visually impaired individuals can touch.
It is part of the umbrella term assistive technologies that refer to any product or facility that helps PWDs, the elderly and other people who needed them for daily activities.
The World Health Organization states that people who require assistive technology are:
- people with disabilities
- older people
- people with noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and stroke
- people with mental health conditions including dementia and autism
- people with gradual functional decline