The Disability Action Council (DAC) has requested that the owners of large structures ensure adequate disability-friendly access in their properties.

DAC secretary-general Em Chan Makara said buildings in Cambodia fall into two categories, the first of which refers to those built after the Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was passed. This legislation established minimum standards which large markets, petrol stations, banks and major hotels must meet.

The second are those built before the introduction of the law. Retro-installation of improved facilities is recommended for these structures.

“Under the law, the owners of older buildings are not obliged to provide inclusive access, but we encourage them to update the designs of their properties to ensure they can be used by everyone,” he said.

“I urge the owners of large buildings to follow our guidelines on this, regardless of whether it is obligatory or not,” he added.

Chea Huot, who is visually impaired and currently president of the Cambodian Music Association for the Disabled, said people with disabilities face many obstacles that affect their livelihoods and wellbeing.

Despite the government’s support and existing law, he said there are still areas for improvements, noting that some in the private sector, big and small, fail to comply with all the requirements aimed at improving the lives of the disabled. They include pedestrian crossings, rental units and smaller markets, he added.

“I hire people to transport me while I conduct my business and the council is always imploring developers to provide better access for us, but it appears [some in] the private sector generally think only of its profit margins and views the disabled as a hindrance,” said Huot.

“Perhaps they see us as too small of a market to consider catering to,” he added.

He added that even when renting long term accommodation, landlords are reluctant to upgrade facilities. This means people with disabilities generally have to remodel the spaces themselves.