Wheelchair access is a challenge at HKU site

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 November, 2011, 12:00am


The University of Hong Kong's hilly campus isn't the easiest place to get around in a wheelchair, and its historic buildings pose a challenge in providing access for disabled people.

This was highlighted by a challenge taken up by four students and two staff members to travel a designated route by wheelchair.

'There are one or two locations in historic buildings such as Loke Yew Hall that are inaccessible by wheelchair,' the university's deputy vice-chancellor and provost Professor Roland Chin Tai-hong, who took part in the effort, said yesterday.

'We found that wheelchairs do not fit through double doors when you only open one door, so it is a struggle when wheelchair users have to open two doors to get through,' said Chin.

He was speaking at the opening of the university's fourth annual Equal Opportunities Festival, dedicated to cultural and racial diversity and awareness of the challenges facing its more than 90 disabled students.

Cheryl Ma Yin-lam, a fourth year law student who took part in the challenge, found her fellow students could be a big help.

'It is so comforting when someone reaches out to help, to open a door for you or to give you directions,' she said. 'There are not a lot of clear signs for where the lifts on campus are. And the slopes can be dangerous if you cannot hold on to something to control your speed.'

Chin said HKU's new centennial campus would provide barrier-free access for people in wheelchairs, accessible toilets on every floor, wheelchair space in lecture halls, dropped kerbs and accessible parking.

HKU has created a buddy programme to pair up disabled students with non-disabled students for support. Michele Fok Chi-fung, senior student adviser for accessibility support, said she encouraged disabled students to speak up for help so that support can be provided.