LAST July 2022, the technical working group assembled by the Subcommittee on Accessibility on the Built Environment and Transportation of the National Council on Disability Affairs completed the final review of the proposed amendments to Appendix A of Rule 2 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (BP 344), or the Accessibility Law that was originally crafted in December 2020. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is undertaking its own final review before it releases the latest amendments to the IRR of BP344.

The last amendments came out in 1994.

The following is an overview of the changes that can be expected from the amendments.

There will be a ratio of accessible parking slots (reserved parking for vehicles of persons with disabilities) to the total number of parking slots in all parking facilities and only vehicles with access parking placards (mounted on rearview mirrors of vehicles of persons with disabilities) will be allowed to use accessible parking slots.

A proposed design of a restroom for persons with disabilities pursuant to what is stated in Batas Pambansa Bilang 344.
A proposed design of a restroom for persons with disabilities pursuant to what is stated in Batas Pambansa Bilang 344.

Doors shall be wider than what is currently required to accommodate the wider and bulkier motorized wheelchairs. This will apply to entrance doors, elevator doors, all rooms or spaces for public use and accessible accommodations.

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Hearing loops or induction loops will be required to enhance sound quality for persons who use hearing aids. Bluetooth beacons synchronized with way-finding smartphone apps will help persons with visual impairments find their way inside and around buildings. Tactile Walking Surface Indicators or tactile guide paths will be required on pedestrian dominated zones which include public use buildings with high volume foot traffic to help persons with visual impairments find their way.

Guidance will be provided for the choice of non-skid or slip-resistant flooring materials to minimize if not avoid accidental slips and falls.

There will be design requirements for accessible hotel room accommodations. These include sufficient wheelchair maneuvering space in hotel rooms, roll-in showers and/or accessible bath tubs, and dual height peepholes on doors.

There will also be technical requirements for accessible ATMs (automated teller machines), accessible check-out counters, accessible service counters, accessible dining tables, accessible gyms and sports facilities, transfer walls to make swimming pools accessible, areas of refuge for emergencies and two-way accessible ramps.

All of the above will not be retroactive but will apply only to all new buildings and structures to be constructed after the DPWH and the Department of Transportation come out with the amended IRR.

Arch. Armand Michael R. Eustaquio's commitment to accessibility spans almost three decades. He was a member of the UAP Task Force Infrastructure Accessibility that crafted the current IRR of BP 344 in 1993. He was deputy chairman of the UAP Committee on Accessibility under the Commission on Government and External Affairs from the year 2000 to 2010. He has served under the administration of seven past National Presidents of the United Architects of the Philippines as chairman of the Accessibility Assessment Project, the Committee on Accessibility Audit and the Committee on Accessibility Audits for Private Buildings successively. To this day, he is the first and the only Filipino member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) based in the US.