The Wetland Park is upgrading facilities for visually impaired visitors and people in wheelchairs. Park management described the improvement works as minor, but a disabled group said they would greatly improve access at the Tin Shui Wai park. Tactile guide paths were paved last month to cover almost all indoor areas of the park except its gallery. Three big talking maps will be installed and a number of portable Braille maps will be made available for blind and low-vision visitors by next month. The package of facilities cost HK$500,000. 'In the past, visually impaired individuals could only hear what others told them,' said Navy Hui Oi-kwan, manager of the Society for the Blind's barrier-free-access technology centre, which is producing the new equipment for the park. 'But with the specially designed maps, they can know where they are in the park and learn about the environment of their location with a touch.' The guide paths will enable the blind to go around independently with a walking stick. When the park was opened three years ago, there was only a guide path from the entrance to the information counter. 'When we built the park, we put in basic structures for the disabled according to the Buildings Ordinance's requirements,' park executive director Edmond Lam Yui-fong said. 'But standards are usually set to minimum and only users know what they really need.' Mr Lam said the park had revamped its facilities after criticism from disabled groups. Some outdoor areas had been paved with uneven granite rocks, which he thought would let people walk comfortably. But they were replaced with flat rocks last month because visitors in wheelchairs had complained. Another example was telescopes in birdwatching towers. The height of some was lowered from 110cm to one metre a few months ago, after a disabled association told park management that wheelchair users were unable to use them. 'A 10cm difference may not be noticeable to most people,' Mr Lam said. 'But since it is important for people wheelchairs, why shouldn't we do a little adjustment?' He said the park continuously engaged in improvement works, but there were constraints on installing facilities for the disabled and a balance was needed. 'For example, the first and second floors of the bird hide are not accessible by wheelchair users, but they can still watch birds on the ground floor,' the executive director said. 'If we built a lift and pull electricity wires to this area, this would be against the protection of nature.'