Thailand Accessible Community Model: KOH KRED
Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The demographic situation of persons with disabilities and elderly in Thailand tends to be higher year by year. In 2014, persons with disabilities accounted for 2.4% of the overall population or estimated 1,567,791 persons. On the same time there are 9,220,754 older people equivalent to 14% of the overall population. The statistic also reveals that 47% of persons with disabilities aged over 60 years old mostly live in rural areas. Especially, Thailand is a Buddhism country that most of our Thai population is Buddhist. Although the attitudes towards persons with disabilities are greatly better than ten years ago, some conservative people still negatively believe in Karma that persons with disabilities have bad lucks and used to do bad things in past life so that they reincarnate for their past negative actions. Namely, this existing stigma leads the negative perception of disability which nobody can assist. Therefore, enhancement accessibility for persons with disabilities is a new innovation of positive attitudes of Thai people with the rights-based society and participation for all. The Royal Thai Government strongly implemented the narrowing development gaps policy and promoted opportunity to access to public welfare, capacity building program and protection of rights of all vulnerable groups including persons with disabilities. Rights and welfare of persons with disabilities are guaranteed in compliance with international mechanisms, namely The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and through laws and regulations at national level such as The Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act 2007 and its Amendment in 2013. Non discrimination against persons with disabilities, access to assistive devices and information, human rights promotion and protection are among all legally binding top priority policies. Even with strong political commitment, the number of persons with disabilities is still left behind due to physical barriers, especially inequality in accessibility, limitations in building modification due to its existence before law enactment, lack of awareness or lack of knowledge on universal design are significant challenges persons with disabilities face. The issue of inaccessibility alone could lead to inequality. This huge gap at the same time, threatens economic prosperity, social development and human security. Therefore, to ensure that persons with disabilities will be able to join equal access to rights and welfare and vigorously contribute prosperity to society, The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEP) initiated The Thailand Accessible Community Model: KOH KRED to fill in the gap of inaccessibility. The rationale behind this initiative is to “Make the Right Real for Persons with Disabilities”. The community role model could be one of the policies that raises awareness, enhances positive attitudes towards persons with disabilities and encourages persons with disabilities to live independently. The model was designed and categorized into three major areas of development ranging from primary level that is accommodation of persons with disabilities, intermediate level that is how persons with disabilities travel from home and final level that is persons with disabilities are able to travel independently.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
1. Changing attitudes instead of providing accessibility for persons with disabilities to being for all 2. Generating and expanding a national role model of an accessible community for all in nationwide 3. Promoting participatory process as a sense of belonging consisting of sharing ideas, making a decision, and having mutual responsibilities for this inclusive society

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
From an unfriendly environment that limited persons with disabilities access to rights, social welfare, service and social participation, DEP acted as a national focal point to support the implementation of plans and policies to lift up the quality of life of persons with disabilities. Efforts have been made especially in the public sector to modify an environment that could support persons with disabilities by providing 5 primary accessibilities item; ramps, toilet facilities, car parks, signposts and information counters as proposed by Cabinet Resolution. A strong commitment has been pushed through law enactment to set regulations for public transportation. Promotion campaigns are also launched in order to support public and private sectors to able to provide accessibility improvements through award presentations. However, evidence from 2009 up until now shows that only 51 percent of public buildings are able to provide those 5 primary accessible items. This top down approach somehow might not have a tangible impact at community level due to lack of understanding. Awareness raising and participation at community level through universal design approach could be some of the instruments to respond to people’s needs that is a key to achievement. Identification of qualified communities should be focused prior to project implementation. We also need a paradigm shift in society especially positive attitude towards persons with disabilities, capacity building, promotion of self - advocacy and social inclusion of persons with disabilities same as ordinary people. Modification of physical environment should come after changing mindset. We required full cycle of modification from primary level at home to final stage at public areas. Persons with disabilities are to be independent and be able to travel independently. This initiative is different from the government initiative in the past since we focused mostly on mindset and attitude. Unlike the Cabinet Resolution which has 5 primary accessibility items without meeting the standards or respond to persons with disabilities’ needs. This new initiative understands what persons with disabilities face in reality. We echoed voices of the community that was reflected in the community role model project by using universal design as a mean. We empower the community and left the public sector to be an adviser of the implementation. Along with a paradigm shift, the government plays a key role to coordinate among relevant sectors; public, private, civil society organization and disabled people’s organization. These may lead to a paradigm shift in the community across sectors. The new initiative also covers the full cycle of daily living from home to transportation, roads, footpaths to buildings such as schools, hospitals and so on, whereas the Cabinet Resolution focused only on primary accessibility items. The community role model project also enhanced the concrete implementation of a universal design approach which had a major impact to people in society as a whole. Unlike the Cabinet Resolution that had an impact only within the public sector through law enforcement.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
DEP implemented the initiatives through Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) and holistic approach for disability development in living daily life by providing accessibilities throughout the cycle. Planning and implementation process in 2014: A Universal Design (UD) approach had been introduced at policies based and area based level through brainstorming meetings in policy planning, budget allocation for concrete action. Communication and public relation in 2014 : DEP had communicated the initiatives in 2 levels; policy level by introducing Thailand Accessible Community Model : KOH KRED as New Year Gift from the government in 2014, and operation level, people have better understanding from the very beginning. Research and analysis in 2015: DEP works collaboratively with relevant stakeholders such as the Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University in making research for socio-cultural and economic structure of community including fact finding for environmental modification. Participatory Action Research in 2015: community leaders and people in the community worked as partnership with the public and private sectors in development. Designing UD Environment and Evaluation in 2015, environmental modification has been designed in line with people’s opinion. The operation was supported by municipalities such as modification of floating landings, ramps and boats and the process monitoring and evaluation.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The project administer is the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. The initiative is one of the significance policies of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. The ministry works closely with research units for appropriate environment for elderly and persons with disabilities, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, Koh Kred municipality, local administration and Koh Kred people. Direct impact: Koh Kred Local Administration Area, has a population of 5,722 people consisting of 2,629 males, 3,093 females, 218 persons with disabilities, 989 elderly people whereby elderly and persons with disabilities are the first group facing difficulties when traveling. Indirect impact: Koh Kred is one of the tourist attractions of Nonthaburi province. The initiative has a major impact on 17,000 persons with disabilities living in Nonthaburi province and 600,000 tourists/year to be able to travel freely and to be able to work independently. The initiative also has a major impact by raising awareness on environmental modification for equal access of elderly and persons with disabilities.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The DEP implemented the project through a holistic approach for disability development in living daily life by providing improved accessibility from primary level up until final level. The initiative covered throughout the cycle. The Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) techniques had been adapted for concrete action to support persons with disabilities independent living and social inclusion. Planning and implementation process through brainstorming meeting in policy planning, budget allocation for concrete action. DEP is responsible for budget allocation and public relation at policy and area based level. Academic institution is responsible for research and survey at community level. Koh Kred municipality and local government are responsible for construction and environmental modification. Whereby representatives of civil society organizations and persons with disabilities are asked for opinions, suggestions and monitoring and evaluation. The strategy that had been adopted is a role model for people of all age, sex and groups especially the most vulnerable group; persons with disabilities, elderly, women and children to be able to travel safely and same as other members of society. The Thailand Accessible Community Model: KOH KRED was promoted to be a New Year Gift from the government in 2014. It gave a strong impact to Koh Kred people and relevant agencies that there is high political commitment to make the project sustainable. Communication and public relations are at core function both at policy and area based level. With communication, people will have better understanding from the very beginning up until final process. Communication can also set paradigm shift towards persons with disabilities and create better understanding of the challenges persons with disabilities faced in traveling around Koh Kred. The key important strategy is how DEP worked closely with the media especially persons with disabilities who are in the media to survey Koh Kred and share knowledge with Koh Kred’s people from project startup until project’s experiment throughout completion of the project. Procedure and Systematic analysis through brainstorming approach between relevant stakeholders by using participatory action research (PAR) methodology. The analysis was made orderly and was accepted by people in community. The content of the research mainly focused on the real situation faced by people especially persons with disabilities in community and what lead to the achievement is participatory approach and teamwork. On the other hand CQI technique allowed development in every step of the project and lead to consultation among the team which lead to sustainability of project which later on was expanded across the country.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The relevant stakeholder of the initiative can be divided into 3 groups: 1. Key stakeholder : - People who live around Pak Kred pier who will be benefit from public space those are accessible and increasing number of tourists and persons with disabilities who travel to Koh Kred. Construction was operated during the night time throughout the project in order to avoid the effects on daily life of people living around the area. - People who live in Koh Kred especially the area that is connected to pier and floating landing. After the construction, they can travel by land or by river freely and safely. 2. Primary stakeholder - Porramaiyikawat temple which is a major of tourist attraction in Koh Kred and the construction area. The construction will somehow have an effect on tourism. - Boat entrepreneurs 3. Secondary stakeholder which are all relevant agencies such as - Policy level : Working group had been set up between related ministry such as Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Health, private sector, disable people’s organization to implement the initiative and expanded it to local level through law enforcement. - Operational level: Working group had been set up between Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Department of Tourism, Faculty of Architecture Chulalongkorn University, Nonthaburi province, Amphoe Pak Kred, Nonthaburi province Disabled People’s Organization to work collaboratively in providing accessibilities and monitor and evaluate progress of the project.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The target of this initiative is to have universal design access for people of all ages, gender and status including persons with disabilities, elderly, children, women, and patient at rehabilitation phrase. After its completion, the initiative could lead to the following achievements: 1. A n-handicapping environment for all throughout the cycle such as ramp from Pak Kred pier and s at bus stops, signposts, toilets at pier, ramps at floating landing, etc. 55 area of construction in total. Whereas in Koh Kred, 90 areas was identified to be renovate to support universal design project such as information board, hall, and housing modification. The construction is somehow designed to be in line with the old tradition of the community such as brown/orange hall to match with pottery which is the product of Koh Kred. 2. Accessibilities items at Pak Kred pier and Koh Kred are universal design and are designed to meet the standard as indicated by law. Persons with disabilities also had an experiment before final construction in order to ensure that accessibilities item are effective. 3. Attitude of family of persons with disabilities in community towards persons with disabilities was changed positively. From the stigma that persons with disabilities are to stay at home and lack of knowledge on rights and welfare. After the construction, persons with disabilities are able to travel freely and access to rights and welfare. 4. Public relation enhance awareness on disability and lead to number of tourists and persons with disabilities travel into and out of Koh Kred to participate in social activity.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
1. People in community initially misunderstood on the project concept. After explaining by DEP through media, people understood the project concept which increased a sense of belonging and became a partner of the initiatives with related stakeholders. 2. Identification of role model areas especially piers. There are a number of piers around the Koh Kred area but mostly the popular piers for tourists belonging to the private sector. Closing down for construction may take time and lead to economic recession. Therefore, the research team carefully identified role models in the area which have least effects to solve the problem. 3. Unwillingness to involve of boat entrepreneurs and people in community for this project because of investment and income concerns. The solution is to conduct a public hearing and discussions on these issues with stakeholders consisting of academic, Nonthaburi and Pakkred leaders, and local organization offices, monks, temple committees, and ferry owners. 4. Negative attitudes and Karma believes of people in the community towards persons with disabilities still strongly exist. During the initial period, the field visit from DEP and media changed mindset and acknowledged people in community regarding difficulties and benefits of this project. TV channels are the other method that had been implied on the tourism. 5. Provided accessibility does not meet the basic needs of all types of disabilities. According to this, DEP is aware of the fact that most of the modification in the past were for only wheelchair users. Consequently, the initiative is designed to meet requirement of all 7 types of disabilities.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The Thailand Accessible Community Model: KOH KRED is not only facilitate people in this community but also benefit persons with disabilities, elderly, women, persons with weak conditions, and all to be able to commute by boat with convenience, safety, and equality. Moreover, this project is able to enhance the quality of life of them to be better because of their needs of independent living by themselves, such as working, travelling, and participating in society. For instance, a disabled people’s organization acknowledges 70 persons with disabilities and their families in Koh Kred community on their rights and social welfare and builds their capacities. As a result, there are five persons with physical disabilities that show the increase number of persons with disabilities who independently work in their community. Also, the elderly increasingly are able to access to the Vocational Training Center which enable them to participate in society and recreation. Convenient and safe commuting between Pakred Pier and Koh Kred greatly open the opportunities for 3,000 persons with disabilities and children with disabilities who live in Homes and Vocational Centers for persons with disabilities located in Pakred, Nonthaburi to study visit and learn their social skills in society. Regarding to this project, collaboration and participation of the community leads the successful implementation. Thailand is able to improve accessible infrastructure for all without discrimination with the valuable and cultural community. Another reason is to enlarge economic capacity including rising incomes for people in Koh Kred community from growing number of tourists with disabilities and families who have their elderly due to accessible facilities to Koh Kred community. In the past, there were 600,000 tourists per year. After promoting the accessible Koh Kred community model through media, such as television, newspaper, and online media, government agencies and persons with disabilities are interested in expanding this accessible community model to other communities, such as Nonthaburi disabled people’s organization, Thailand Independent living centers of persons with disabilities, representatives of government agencies and persons with disabilities from other provinces in nationwide in order to mobilize creating accessibility for all in their own areas to provide opportunities for elderly, better economy, and incomes for all.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The “Kroh Kred” Project is initiated by DEP. DEP significantly emphasizes that a paradigm and an attitude of government agencies and people is generating universal design accessibility for all providing merely for persons with disabilities. The government provides a basic public infrastructure for the benefits of people in general, but a few number of persons with disabilities is able to utilize or never. In accordance to this, the government has the options of providing accessibility for persons with disabilities in the areas or not. Changing a paradigm process of providing universal design accessibility for all for a basic public infrastructure for all because everyone has the eligible rights to receive and gain the benefits from public services with equality and equity including persons with disabilities, elderly, children, women, persons with weak conditions, and all. Implementation is necessary to raise awareness on disability issues for public in society to have positive attitudes towards persons with disabilities and to realize the important benefits of universal design accessibility for all. Consequently, the collaboration and responsibility is from government agencies, local administration organizations, civil society, private sector, and people in Koh Kred community and Pak Kred area. In order to eliminate the gaps of differences in this inclusive society, participation from all stakeholders in society is to increase acceptance and transparency, to reduce chances for corruption, and verification in every step, starting with visiting the area, designing, proposing the building plan, implementing, monitoring performances, following up, and evaluating the project including tested the project by persons with disabilities in the area. As a result, DEP implemented the project in line with their recommendations. Moreover, these outcomes of this project raise ethical issues on persons with disabilities and elderly to other communities. DEP spent over a year to make mutual understanding together with people in the areas and four months to create a universal design accessible infrastructure for all including following up and evaluating this implementation. This implementation certainly Integrates government agencies, private sector, civil society, and people, particularly experts on design and inclusive environment for persons with disabilities and elderly from the Architecture faculty, Chulalongkorn University. People and local agencies in Koh Kred community and Pakkred Piers accept the substance of equal accessibility for all to a basic infrastructure, transit system, and public services.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Providing universal design accessibility for all means everyone including all people in society. To ensure that women and children are not left behind, DEP enacted the measure on designing inclusive environment and accessibility with universal design as well as complying with the 2012 Ministerial Regulation, characteristics or providing equipment, facilities, or services in the buildings, places, or other public services for persons with disabilities which works together with experts on universal design and a working group on following up and evaluation of universal design accessibility for all. At the last stage before implementing, both men and women with disabilities examined the accessible facilities at the piers such as the toilets if they are appropriate, convenient, safe and practical for all including women with disabilities, children, and elderly. Moreover, 54 percent of the female population consists of the elderly and persons with disabilities who live in poverty and disadvantage groups account for about 20 percent of the population in Koh Kred. Thus, DEP promotes and supports the female leaders especially women with disabilities to participate in examination all steps of accessibility in order to enhance the equal quality of life.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Haruthai Sirisinudomkit
Title:   Chief,Section of Administive system Development  
Telephone/ Fax:   +(66) 2 354 3388
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   asds.dep@gmail.com  
Address:   255 Rajvithi Road
Postal Code:   10400
City:   Rajthevi
State/Province:   Bangkok
Country:  

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