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Saturday, 26 September 2015

How Fit Is India For A Physically Disabled Person?

Disability in a person may or may not be something that he is born with. Whatever the case, till now, it has been an enormous challenge for the disable to survive in India. From the time they get up till the time they go to bed is a challenge. Something as simple as walking or jogging that fits in our daily routine is incapability for the physically handicapped person. Something as simple as reading the daily newspaper could be at par to solving a difficult math problem for a person with dyslexia. And imagine how the deaf, dumb and blind might be surviving through the daily work that we find difficult to finish!

How Fit Is India For A Physically Disabled Person?

Whenever we spot a physically handicapped person, our expression morphs into pity.  More often than not we try to help the person while crossing the road or explaining the signs, etc.

But did you know that a person coming under the PHP (physically handicapped category) is not one in a million in India?

Statistics suggest that, according to the United Nations, around one billion people live with disabilities globally — they are the world’s largest minority.

Of this number, as many as 40-80 million live in India, through the underdeveloped infrastructure.

However, thankfully, the spotlight has finally fallen on making disabled friendly infrastructure for by the Government of India for those who are not as privileged as us.

Four main cities for every state have been appointed to be a part of the national accessibility campaign to aid the disabled with more disabled-friendly public and transport facilities. Mumbai is among the 4 cities in Maharashtra to be a part of this followed by Pune, Nagpur and Nashik.

So far, Maharashtra is the only state to make it compulsory for every department to have a scheme for procuring disability access products. However an IT secretary for Maharashtra, Rajesh Aggarwal  quotes otherwise,

Except for metro, none of our public transport systems are disabled-friendly. As per the national building code of India, while giving permissions for public buildings there must be a checklist to ensure that buildings and toilers are wheelchair and blind friendly. Similarly hotels must have few rooms which are disabled friendly. This awareness has not set in yet. 

The campaign:
Accessible India Campaign: Creation of Accessible Environment for PwDs

In order to provide complete accessibility to the people with disabilities, this campaign is launched for them to gain equal opportunity, live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society. It’s primary motive is to enhance access to the physical environment, public transportation, knowledge, information and communication.

The government of India targets at providing a society that has equal number of opportunities for the (PwDs), providing them with a built environment, transport system, Information and Communication eco-system so as to help them lead happy, safe and dignified lives.

It has been conceptualized as the ‘Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) as a nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility.

Improvements in Transport for the disabled:

The Union government has asked each state, including Maharashtra, to identify 50-100 public buildings in major cities to be made easily accessible for persons with disabilities.

Among the Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Air India provide disabled friendly travel in India. They provide designated parking areas for the physically handicapped. And in order to make the journey more comfortable, they have a facility of customizing your journey on the basis of length, size, breadth and weight so that the necessary arrangements are made for the flight is ready to take off.

In Indian railways too, there are necessary arrangements made for the PHPs. There are standard ramps for the travelers for accessing easy entry and exit in trains, non-slippery walkways in parking lots, and facility of at least one drinking water tap, toilet in the ground floor to ensure an easy access for a person with Disability.

Metros too have specially built elevators on the metro station for the easy accessibility for disabled.

For the visually challenged, there are buttons with inscriptions and tiles with tactile markings are provided.

There are special spots marked for the wheelchairs too.

Creating Awareness:

Training programs, ad campaigns, awareness camps, etc have been conducted by the government and NGOs working in favor of the PwDs so that more and more people are aware and sensitized over this issue. Teachers are provided with training over how to deal with a student suffering from a mental disorder. Different schools for special children have been constructed across India, so that the children do not feel ignored or targeted by the other children in school.

Speaking at an inauguration of a workshop on accessibility on Thursday, Thawar Chand Gehlot, Union minister for social justice and empowerment contributed with his views saying that the present definition of disability is not inclusive enough as it only covers seven types of disabilities. Out of the 26.8 million persons with disabilities, less than half have been provided with disability certificate. This statement goes far off by saying how sensitized and aware we are towards the problems and insecurities of the persons having disabilities. Even though the improvement is taking place at a slow pace, we are hoping for some concrete steps taken by the government in the favour of the PwDs population, in order to create a healthy environment for them. 

Source: Rise for India, 25th Sep 2015

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