As congresses move to involve more members of the community, venues that host these gatherings must also be welcoming for people with varying levels of physical and sensorial abilities. Check out how some Asian convention centres measure up on universal accessibility
ICC Sydney offers a highly tailored approach when it comes to meeting required support for delegates with special needs. This can be accommodated through culinary service, room setups or venue access.
For example, ICC Sydney hosted an event in 2018 with delegates who experienced sensitivities towards light and sound. To ensure these delegates had a safe space to take time out as they needed, quiet and dim rooms were set up for the event.
The centre had also provided lower dining tables for another event where there were a high number of guests in wheelchairs. This meant all delegates were able to come together for meal breaks, regardless of their mobility requirements.
Other accessibility features at ICC Sydney include wheelchair seating with adjacent carer seats in all theatre venues, lowered counters at key retail and service points, and wheelchair-accessible baby change facilities.
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Delegates with hearing needs are specially catered for at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) with hearing assist technology, where visitors can borrow a lanyard-style infrared receiver that works directly with hearing aids fitted with a T switch, or alternatively fitted with standard headphones.
Most of the meeting rooms within the centre are equipped with this system and visitors simply pre-book a receiver by contacting customer service. Event organisers can also work with MCEC’s Technology Planners to address attendee requirements, which enables the units to be pre-programmed prior to guests arriving on-site.
For delegates with sight needs, Braille is provided on all room door signage and fixed directional signage throughout the venue.
MCEC is guide dog friendly and welcomes any registered assistance dogs into all areas of the building. The centre has also worked with Guide Dogs Victoria to host pop-up sensory experience workshops that partly aims to raise awareness for the vision-impaired.
Pacifico Yokohama, the key convention centre of Yokohama city, is built to cater to the needs of visitors with physical and mental disabilities. Facilities such as wheelchair ramps, elevators for the physically-challenged, writing boards at information booths for the hard of hearing, and vending machines for people in wheelchairs are available.
The centre also offers universal restrooms that are designed for ostomates, with sheets to help adults change their clothes if necessary.
Besides these hardware, Pacifico Yokohama invests heavily in ensuring that its staff are aware of the challenges that such guests face and the ways in which they can make their visit more straightforward.
Skills seminars are held regularly to educate staff on the hurdles that physically-and mentally-challenged guests might face, ways in which they can communicate with people with specific difficulties and needs, and – more importantly – the support and assistance they can provide in the event of a natural disaster.
The seminars provide instruction on aiding people in wheelchairs, such as how to carry a person in a wheelchair down stairs in the event of a disaster, as well as the different types of mental disabilities that they might encounter and how to communicate and help those people.
These educated staff are assigned to provide onsite help during universal events.
As well, Pacifico Yokohama, which regularly hosts medical-related conferences, including the BioJapan 2019/Regenerative Medicine Japan 2019 in October and the annual meetings of both the Japan Society of Respiratory Care and the Japanese Cancer Association next year, frequently updates its website with information for physically- and mentally-challenged visitors.
More to come: Universal restrooms have been incorporated into the design of the adjacent Pacifico Yokohama North wing, which is scheduled to open in early 2020.
Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
The purpose-built Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre boasts an OSHAS 18001:2007 certification – meaning the venue’s path of travel is obstruction free – and was accorded the Kuala Lumpur Mayor Universal Access Award 2013, which acknowledges the facility’s building design as being accessible and user-friendly for all.
Some of the centre’s key universal accessibility features include automatic doors and shallow grade ramps to provide direct access from road level at all its entrances; elevators which are fitted with low-level Braille numeral floor buttons, aural and visual indicators and wide-door access; double-leaf doors to facilitate wheelchair entry in all function rooms; wheelchair platform lifts and designated chairs that can be removed to accommodate wheelchairs in the plenary theatre and plenary hall; 12 fully-fitted unisex dedicated wheelchair accessible restrooms located adjacent to the public restrooms on every level; and parking bays for physically-challenged guests are available adjacent to the parking level lift landings.
The centre also welcomes all guide and assistance dogs.
SMX Convention Center Manila
SMX Convention Center Manila offers language interpreters for event participants who are deaf mute. A Safety and Emergency Procedure audio-visual presentation is provided before every event that caters to both visual and hearing impaired.
Apart from a company nurse and medical clinic, SMX Manila is also equipped with wheelchairs, making it the venue of choice since 2011 for the Philippine Veterans Bank events which are attended mostly by elderly World War II veterans, and since 2016 by Happy Walk for Down Syndrome, the biggest annual awareness gathering in the country.
SMX Manila is designed as a PWD (people with disability)-friendly building with designated parking spaces, ramps from the basement parking to the bridgeways connecting to the hotel and shopping mall, mechanical wheelchair inclinators, passenger elevator with Braille buttons, and designated restrooms with safety handrails and proper height for the water closet, urinal and lavatory per United Nations standards.
As well, in consideration of delegates with mobility challenges, the centre’s cafe is set near the ground floor entrance and a wheelchair lift.
For guest safety, emergency sounders and blinkers are strategically located at all public areas and venue spaces.
Resorts World Sentosa
The integrated resort on Sentosa island provides a parking area reserved for visitors with disability. Lots are accessible to all vehicles with a Disabled Parking Permit. All restrooms within the complex have wheelchair-accessible facilities, and the first aid facilities on site are staffed with nurses and professional paramedics.
For association events with room for some experiential fun, Resorts World Sentosa offers complimentary Disabled Divers International introductory courses to eligible participants. It is the first and only organisation in Singapore accredited by Disabled Divers International to conduct recreational dives for the disabled.
Furthermore, event attendees who have the chance to visit Universal Studios Singapore will find a variety of friendly services for visitors with disabilities. These include an Assistive Listening signal, access for service animals in most locations of the park, and portable kennels for service animals.
Suntec Singapore is equipped for events welcoming attendees with physical disabilities and medical needs. It is fitted with step-free drop-off points, centrally located escalators, first aid boxes as well as wheelchair-accessible toilets and nursing room facilities.
Attendees with registered assistance animals can roam the venue with ease of mind as registered support animals are allowed in all areas of the convention centre.
Additionally, should the need for medical aid arise, Suntec Singapore provides frontline staff trained to render first aid.
Coex convention and exhibition centre caters to wheelchair users and visitors with reduced mobility. All conference spaces, including the auditorium, are wheelchair-accessible. Should a visitor require a wheelchair on site, free rentals are provided at the Coex Safety Centre. For event attendees who must be accompanied by a support person, Coex allows free admission for the support person as well. Service animals are allowed in the centre with advanced approval.
Convenience is extended to Starfield Coex Mall, beneath the centre, where free wheelchair rental is offered. The centre is also connected to the InterContinental Seoul, which has an inventory of four accessible guestrooms. These rooms are equipped with a variety of services for disabled guests, including Braille service, a ramp entrance as well as widened aisles, pathways and doors.
More to come: Both Coex and Starfield Coex Mall are working to increase the number of restrooms for people with disabilities.
Taipei International Convention Centre
Taipei International Convention Centre (TICC) is fitted with facilities for attendees with ambulatory needs, such as accessible toilets, wheelchair ramps, and barrier-free elevators with Braille buttons and voice prompts.
For events requiring special arrangements, TICC steps up to the plate to provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all attendees. An example was the 19th Retina International World Congress in July 2016, which was attended by some 800 medical professionals and scholars, as well as patients and their families – 70 per cent of whom were visually-impaired and of which nearly 200 were blind.
For the congress, experts were invited to instruct staff members on methods to guide visually-disabled people. Almost 100 volunteers were mobilised to guide attendees at the stairways, elevators and restrooms inside and outside the meeting venue.
Guide dogs and trainers were on hand for demonstrations. Aisles in the conference and dining rooms were widened for visually-disabled people, guide dogs, and escorts. Finally, an artificial outdoor turf area was built to provide a “toilet space” for the guide dogs.
IMPACT Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok
The IMPACT Muang Thong Thani event complex takes into consideration event attendees of varying accessibility needs.
Basic accessibility features at the venue includes demarcated drop off/pick up zones in front of all buildings for disabled persons, demarcated parking lots for disabled persons, elevators for handicapped and disabled with braille buttons, and disabled/handicapped toilets with emergency alarms.
For the convenience of delegates with mobility issues, IMPACT offers wheelchairs for use.
As well, to facilitate movement between buildings, inter-connecting indoor access bridges with travelators (also known as moving walkways) have been installed.
Beyond provisions for physically-challenged event attendees and venue visitors, IMPACT also offers breastfeeding rooms and baby diaper changing rooms – a boon for working mothers.
Events held at IMPACT are supported by on-site medical/first aid centres as well as ambulances on standby.
More to come: According to IMPACT’s spokesperson, the venue is looking to grow its universal accessibility features to include tactile paving on all footpaths and stairs to assist the visually impaired, and assist bars in all toilets.