Achieving Social Equity by Addressing the Needs of Disabled People in Heritage Building Conservation in Malaysia

By Naziaty Yaacob, Nor Rasidah Hashim and Ar. Helena Aman Hashim.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social equity is one of the three main thrusts for a country’s sustainable development that is achieved only when a country fulfills the needs of everyone including those of disabled people. It is known that the design, implementation and management of heritage buildings, undertaken by both the public and private sectors, are influenced by conservation practices that may not consider the needs of disabled people. In Malaysia, with the passing of the National Heritage Act in 2005, it is important to ensure that conservation practices follow sustainable development principles, in particular, social equity. Our paper aims to show the extent to which services for disabled people are being provided in the Malaysian heritage tourism sector through four case studies of heritage buildings. The case studies were conducted to ascertain whether the concepts of Barrier-Free, which are 1. Accessibility, 2. Usability and 3. Safety, were adhered to in the design and management aspects of building conservation. Our survey method was using access audits based on the country’s standards and international guidelines. The results show that in all cases some attempts were made to create accessibility, but often conservation objectives tend to over-ride access. Clearly, a lot is still to be done to ensure that accessibility for disabled people is addressed in Malaysia.

Keywords: Social Equity, Disabled People, Access Audits, Heritage Buildings

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.51-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 7.041MB).

Naziaty Yaacob

Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

I am a Malaysian. My career has been spent at the intersection of architecture, academia and disability activism. My involvement in disability advocacy and research on things to do with Accessibility and Inclusive Design, Policies and Case Studies started in 1998, when I volunteered for a UNESCAP training course in Penang, Malaysia. I am completing a doctoral dissertation that explores the relationships between accessibility and conservation of historic buildings in the United Kingdom. This means the road that I took in 1998 has somehow led me this far and this way when it comes to ‘fighting’ for the rights of disabled people in Malaysia.

Dr. Nor Rasidah Hashim

Lecturer, Department of Environmental Science, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

I am a Malaysian. I obtained my PhD in geography from the University of Cambridge in 2006. Since then I have been a lecturer on the Faculty of Environmental Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia. My current research interests include historical GIS, heritage conservation and disability advocacy. I have collaborated with the co-author of this paper, Naziaty Mohd Yaacob, in accessibility research as well as in disability advocacy for several years. We have secured funding for an on-going research project entitled, “Access Auditing: A Method in Achieving Barrier-Free Design in the Built Environment”. My other research project is using geographic information system (GIS) to investigate landscape changes in a historical site in Peninsular Malaysia.

Ar. Helena Aman Hashim

Lecturer & Department Head, Department of Architecture, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

Helena Aman Hashim is a professional architect with over 20 years experience. A graduate of the University of Miami, Florida, USA, she is presently Head of the Architecture Department, Faculty of Built Environment, Universiti Malaya. A Director of Badan Warisan Malaysia since 2002, Helena is presently the consultant architect for the restoration of Stadium Merdeka. She attended the 3rd UNITAR Workshop on the Management and Conservation of World Heritage Sites (2006) in Hiroshima, Japan one component of which focussed on George Town’s bid for World Heritage Listing. Helena has been involved in education and cultural mapping programmes, and was a key educator in the 2006 Sub-regional South East Asian Teacher Training Workshop which was held in George Town and Balik Pualu, Penang. She is currently involved in researching and documenting the Dutch period shophouses in Malacca.


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