National

Doorway width mandated by Tokyo accessibility ordinance will leave many wheelchair users out in cold

Kyodo

A group representing disabled people in Japan has said the doorway width stipulated in an amendment proposed for Tokyo’s barrier-free ordinance for hotels is unlikely to be wide enough for many wheelchairs.

The amendment, which the Tokyo Metropolitan Government aims to put into effect in September — less than a year before the 2020 Olympics — will require new hotels with more than 1,000 square meters of total floor space as well as facilities expanding by 1,000 sq. meters from the beginning of September to ensure guest room doorways are more than 80 centimeters wide and bathroom doorways are over 70 cm wide.

The metropolitan government set the requirement based on the Japanese Industrial Standards for wheelchairs.

The envisioned ordinance also calls for new or renovated hotels of the required size to eliminate steps around roads, parking lots and hotel rooms.

But the nonprofit Japan National Assembly Of Disabled Peoples’ International said its tests have found that most motorized wheelchairs cannot pass through a bathroom doorway of the stipulated width.

“We welcome Tokyo’s move as few wheelchair-user-friendly hotels are now available, but we want them to revise their amendment based on our tests rather than theoretical discussions,” said Masayoshi Imanishi, a member of the assembly.

In the group’s tests, which looked into whether wheelchair users could enter bathrooms without making contact with walls, most motorized wheelchairs failed while all manual wheelchairs passed.

All five types of wheelchair used in the tests were less than 70 cm in width, but motorized wheelchairs were larger lengthwise, with most over a meter. Therefore, the motorized wheelchairs need a wider hallway and doorway to get into bathrooms, the group said.

Based on their tests, the assembly has asked the Tokyo government to revise the required width for bathroom doorways to at least 75 cm, and for hallways to be over 1 meter.

The existing barrier-free ordinance only requests that accommodation facilities have rooms for wheelchair users. The revised ordinance will be the first in Japan to regulate the wheelchair accessibility of hotel rooms, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The metropolitan government estimates up to 850 barrier-free rooms will be needed in the capital alone on each day of the games.

Currently, there is a shortfall of about 300 rooms, and the metropolitan government aims to make up the deficit by ensuring that more regular rooms are made accessible.

During the Olympics next year, huge crowds are anticipated in the capital and its vicinities. The event is expected to help the government reach its stated target of attracting 40 million foreign travelers to the country in 2020.

A government official said Tokyo wants to see various types of hotel rooms available, and the central government has asked that accommodation facilities make over 1 percent of their total guest rooms accessible for wheelchair users from September.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5