人口老化改變了社會人口結構，對無障礙空間的需求也相對提升，適合人類全生命週期的「通用設計」成為時代趨勢，如何因應高齡的社會問題與提出相應的解決辦法，成為政府當前的重要課題。根據聯合國世界衛生組織WHO定義，65歲以上人口占總人口比例達7%時，為「高齡化社會（aging society）」；比例達14%時，為「高齡社會（aged society）」；比例達20%時則邁入「超高齡社會（super-aged society）」。
Population aging has changed the structure of the social population and the need for accessible space has also increased. The “universal design” that is suitable for the entire human life cycle has become the trend of the times. In consequence, how to respond to the social problems of the elderly and put forward corresponding solutions has become the government's current major issue. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition, when the population over the age of 65 accounts for 7% of the total population, it is then an “aging society”; when the ratio reaches 14%, it is an “aged society”; when the ratio reaches 20%, it turns into a “super-aged society”.
Taiwan's population is aging at a rate equal to Japan's, tied third place in the world and only slower than South Korea and Singapore. Taiwan has become an “aging society” since 1993. Moreover, the National Development Council also estimates that we will step into the “aged society” next year, and by the year 2026, the elderly population will exceed the 20% threshold and become a “super-aged society”.
The barrier-free hardware and facilities in our country are based on the “Regulations for Design of Barrier-free Facilities in Buildings” issued by the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, the MOTC also has the “Measures for the Establishment of Barrier-free Facilities for Mass Transit Vehicles”. The barrier-free facilities for HSR and TIAA MRT EMUs and stations complied with the regulations available at the time of the opening of the systems. Relevant facilities will be updated to comply with the revised laws and regulations.
To understand the situation of facilities applied in transportation stations in response to the aging population in other countries, Deputy Chief Engineer Chen led a BOHSR team to Tokyo in Dec. 2017 for inspection purposes. In addition to visiting the Railway Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to understand the relevant regulations and practical measures of the elderly and disabled persons in their railway facilities, the inspection team took the time to know the railway agency’s budgeting and subsidy details for the improvement of the railway facilities. The team also took an onsite visit to Haneda International Airport Terminal, the metro stations and observed the related facilities of Japanese transport stations. As BOHSR is currently implementing the detailed designs of TIAA MRT Airport Terminal 3 Station (A14), the results of this overseas inspection can also provide reference for the detailed design of the A14 station.
Japan’s Railway Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism determines standards for the accessibility of passenger facilities and structures of vehicles according to the “Elderly and Disabled Barrier-free Access Act”. In order to promote the accessibility of the Railway Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism provided a basic barrier-free policy without having to compromise between the elderly and the disabled passengers.
During the expansion of the international terminal area of Tokyo Haneda Airport, they took into account the needs of travelers around the world and introduced the idea of “universal design” into the construction. They took the lead in setting up a national committee of experts and scholars in 2006 to design the terminal better than national regulations. Actual multi-functional toilet module samples were made and review by committee members and vendors for its practicality and then adjustment of the size and configuration were made before formally being built as terminal facilities. The introduced ideas included:
The “barrier-free multi-purpose restroom”: provided with one left and right door opening for the use of people with left or right extremities, the facilities in the restroom are of uniform depth (wheelchair can be smoothly rotated), the emergency button is connected to the disaster prevention center, the flashing device (external emergency notification) in the restroom, care bed and changing board. The “elevator”: the size of elevator doors and the floor doors are the same, external wall glass is marked with lines to remind passengers with amblyopia, different music is applied for up or down directions. The “sign”: apparent comparison colors, fonts and has four languages-Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese. The “Breastfeeding room”: hot water temperature is constantly at 70 degrees Celsius. The terminal and the subway system both set up a “service center” to provide wheelchairs and baby car rental. “Tactile paving” guides visually impaired persons to the counter of the service center and will be guided with a specialized staff.
Due to the long history of the Japanese subway and the different floor heights of various types of EMUs, the subway system cannot reach the barrier-free entrance and exit environment as the HSR and MRT system in our country. As a result, the Japanese government, aiming at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, will make improvements from the majority of government grants (subsidy of 21.4 billion yen in 2017). The stations with daily traffic volume of more than 3,000 people (3,559 stations) will eliminate stair barriers for the passengers with wheelchair to reach the platform conveniently (utilizing elevators and ramp to solve the height difference and change the channel width to fit the wheelchair width), and then the station staff will help the passenger to get on the train. Establish a specialized wheelchair area onboard (at each cab). For the stations with daily traffic volume of more than 100,000 people (266 stations), platform doors will be established. On the other hand, the visually impaired are able to easily access the Tokyo subway system via tactile paving and Braille devices so the blind guiding system is still the majority of barrier-free facilities in Japan.
In general, in addition to the government that enacts the laws and decrees, equipment manufacturers in Japan are also actively developing generic equipment to develop new products in an ergonomic way. Thoughtful and ingenious designs are common in all public places and subway stations, which is worth for our country to learn from.