It is important to be inclusive of people of different ages, sizes, and mobility when designing facilities and spaces. For wheelchair users, accessibility is often a non-negotiable factor before they visit or undertake a particular activity.
What is accessibility? According to Cambridge Dictionary, accessibility is the ability for a person to reach somewhere or understand something easily. In this case, wheelchair accessibility would require the location to be entered and utilised easily while being in the wheelchair. More than just automatic door opening buttons or a support bar by the toilet area, it would require other needed functions. For example, shop aisles would require a certain width, or public transport would need to be equipped with ramps or suitable lifters to accommodate wheelchair accessibility. Suitable sidewalks with step-free access are also another possibility as well. Lack of accessibility may incur a lack of confidence in a person who requires the accessibility features.
As such, it is important to incorporate accessibility into everyday living spaces because it lends autonomy to wheelchair users and persons with other needs. This enables people to navigate and try new ventures without being left out as a minority group. In turn, this opens up opportunities for new experiences.
In examples around the world such as in the city of Seattle, a map-based app has been developed (namely AccessMap) to suggest routes for the user. There are customised settings in order to avoid or limit steep slope inclines. Meanwhile, Singapore’s MRT management has made changes to work on accessibility by incorporating more lifts, wider gates and tactile guidance along the metro for wheelchair users.
Discovering Wheelchair-Accessible Activities
Having established the importance and relevance of accessibility, it is time to look at several activities that are wheelchair-accessible in Johor Bahru, for you, your family and friends’ enjoyment and growth. Despite the list below, it is best to check with the places of interest on suitability for a wheelchair user.
Johor Bahru Hill
If you would like to enjoy a fresh change of scenery from city life, you can make your way to Johor Bahru Hill. While this place might be a bit challenging for a wheelchair user, as long as you have a companion, you should be able to overcome most of the obstacles.
Zaharah Botanic Gardens
This botanic garden in Johor is attached to Istana Besar Royal Abu Bakar. The garden compound is large and filled with many types of flowers. Typically, people would visit earlier in the day to avoid being under the hot sun for a long time, as it is not shaded. There are well-made paths throughout the gardens. Nearby, there is also the Royal Abu Bakar Museum Administration Office.
Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House
Photo credit: wikipedia.org
Opened in January 2020, this is the first opera house in Johor. It is meant to bolster the friendship relations between China and Malaysia. Aside from that, it is a platform for local and international arts, along with cultural engagement. The building is magnificent, both inside and outside. Check with the premises if you are able to catch an ongoing show, and double confirm the accessibility features available.
Johor Premium Outlets (JPO)
Situated in Kulai, Johor, Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) is a shopping haven for shoppers. It is filled with over 100 designer and name-brand outlets. It is equipped with amenities such as wheelchair access, ATM machines and more. Most shops are spacious and accessible, along with elevators in strategically placed locations throughout the outdoor open concept mall. Aside from JPO, there is an outlet in Genting as well.
Skyscape @ Menara JLand
The Skyscape attraction at Menara JLand is open daily (except for Saturdays). Here, there are numerous experiences to discover such as viewing the city of Johor Bahru from above. There are also other sensory activities such as the mini theatre, floor games, and LED tunnel. The attraction and activities can be accessed by wheelchair and stroller users without trouble, except for the Sky Bridge area. Nonetheless, there is an alternative option via an observation deck indoors to be enjoyed.
Photo credit: lancareno.com
Located in Nusajaya, Johor, LEGOLAND Malaysia is huge, covering 31 hectares. With a range of thematic parks (land, water, sea life), there are many things to enjoy. In general, ramps are placed in almost all areas for accessibility. LEGOLAND hotel is also an attraction for keeping to the theme of including LEGO blocks as much as they can. There is also sufficient space in the lobbies for wheelchair users to move about.
While there are limitations with some rides such as the VR Rollercoaster, there is still plenty in store for everyone at this beloved attraction. If permitted, you would be recommended to spend two days exploring its entirety at ease.
B5 Johor Street Market
This is a centralised retail tourism area to promote local products, ranging from foods to cultural activities. Situated in the Johor Bahru area, it is easy to wander into the area. It is compared to the Bangkok market vibes, along with Jonker Walk in Malacca. Meanwhile, this area is open every day. It has wide space for access, along with ample parking lots.
Puteri Harbour Area
Puteri Harbour area is filled with beautiful ships by the harbour with a marina. There is an area to stroll alongside the waters, accessible for wheelchair users as well. Although some attractions have been closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are other points of interest, such as the sculptures and music fountain.
This zoo in Johor was established in 1928 by the late Sultan of Johor. Although it may not be as large as Zoo Negara, there are still many animals to discover. With a low entry fee, it allows anyone to purchase the tickets and enjoy viewing the animals.
However, while the zoo is a fun family-friendly activity, this zoo is available partially for wheelchair users. This is due to the fact that some exhibits are accessible by stairs only. Yet due to the low entry fee, it is an activity to consider.
Istana Bukit Serene
Photo credit: wikipedia.org
This is the royal palace of the Sultan of Johor. It can be viewed from Danga Bay beach area. There is a crown arch that often serves as a photography spot. Not only that, there is a small park with some shops nearby selling items. While the place may be viewed at any time, most endeavour to go at night to admire the lights.
After enjoying the activities, it is equally necessary to lodge at a wheelchair-accessible hotel. To cater to one’s needs, research thoroughly beforehand and make enquiries to the respective locations. With the Internet, information is vastly available and useful to confirm details.
Typically, booking websites such as Booking.com or Agoda.com are able to include searches with disabled facilities. Having the disabled or wheelchair access facilities would indicate that the hotel or certain portions of the hotel have been made accessible to people who are wheelchair users or have trouble with the staircase. There would be wider bathrooms and inclusive shower access rooms. Usually, the rooms would be located on the ground floor or have easy lift access.
Nonetheless, while the booking websites are able to narrow the search results needed, it is better to make a specific call or send an email to the hotel of interest to ensure it is suitable for you.
Renting Wheelchairs in Johor Bahru
On some occasions, renting a wheelchair may be preferred as compared to carrying the wheelchair from another location via transport. As such, it is important to seek wheelchair rental services in the vicinity.
Wheelchairs can be rented from places like Alpro Pharmacy. They have branches throughout Malaysia, including Johor Bahru. While they require a pre-booking, Alpro Pharmacy promises to deliver within the day as needed. They have rental charges per week’s usage. More information can be procured by contacting them directly.
Another place that offers rental services is Safe & Well. Similar to Alpro Pharmacy, they have multiple branches across the country. Charges for their equipment are also listed for your convenience. Additionally, they have clearly spelt the terms and conditions of usage and return.
On some occasions, wheelchair rentals may not be available. Thus, it is vital to carry out the necessary research, if you are in need but do not have your own wheelchair.
Getting Support with Medical Escort and Activities for Elderly
At times, you may find yourself in need of medical support. Why not consider a medical escort while you are visiting Johor? Homage medical escorts are an option that is available for families in areas such as Tebrau, Pasir Gudang, Nusajaya, Bukit Indah, Iskandar Puteri, Ulu Tiram and more. They are qualified for the task with valid CPR certification and receive caregiver training. In addition, they are also screened for health purposes before assisting others.
- Alpro Pharmacy (2022). Rental Hospital Beds And Services [Website]. Retrieved 20 July 2022, from https://www.alpropharmacy.com/rehab-silvercare/rental-hospital-bed-and-wheelchair/ .
- Cambridge Dictionary (2022). Accessibility [Dictionary]. Retrieved 18 July 2022, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/accessibility .
- Homage (2022). Medical Escort & Transport Services in Johor [Website]. Retrieved 20 July 2022, from https://www.homage.com.my/services/medical-escort-johor/ .
- Lee, A. (2020). 53 Things To Do In Johor Bahru – Blue Lagoon, RM2 Carnival Rides & Animal Sanctuary [Website]. Retrieved 20 July 2022, from https://thesmartlocal.com/malaysia/things-to-do-in-johor-bahru/ .
- Safe & Well (2022). Rental Services [Website]. Retrieved 20 July 2022, from https://www.safe8well.my/rental-services .
- Salman, S. (2018). What would a truly disabled-accessible city look like? [Article]. Retrieved 18 July 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/feb/14/what-disability-accessible-city-look-like .
- Wheelchair In Motion (2022). What Does “Wheelchair Accessible Really Mean? Retrieved 18 July 2022, from https://wheelchairinmotion.com/what-does-wheelchair-accessible-really-mean/ .