An important aim of the society is to integrate persons with disabilities in the society so that they can actively participate in society and lead a normal life. Ideally, a disabled person should be able to commute between home, work place and other destinations with independence, convenience and safety. The more persons with disabilities are able to access physical facilities, the more they will be part of the social mainstream.
Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities. Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 under Section 44, 45 and 46 also categorically provides for non-discrimination in participation, non-discrimination of the roads and built up environment. As per Section 46 of the PwD Act, the States are required to provide for :
i) Ramps in public buildings
ii) Provision of toilets for wheelchair users
iii) Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts
iv) Ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other rehabilitation centres.
Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has formulated the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), as a nation-wide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for PwDs. The campaign targets three separate verticals for achieving universal accessibility namely the built up environment, transportation eco-system and information & communication eco-system. The campaign has ambitious targets with defined timelines and will use IT and social media for spreading awareness about the campaign and seeking commitment / engagement of various stakeholders.
The Department has asked various State Govts. to identify about 50 to 100 public buildings in big cities and also identify citizen centric public websites, which if made fully accessible would have the highest impact on the lives of PwDs. Once identified, “Access Audit” of these buildings and websites will be conducted by professional agencies. As per the audit findings, retrofitting and conversion of buildings, transport and websites would be undertaken by various government departments. This will be supported by the Scheme of Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA), an umbrella scheme run by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) for implementing various initiatives for social and economic empowerment of PwDs.
Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities is collaborating with Ministry of Home, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Tourism for creating ‘Accessible police stations’, “Accessible hospitals’ and ‘Accessible tourism’ respectively across the country. The Department is also coordinating with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for enhancing accessibility of Television programmes by incorporating features like captioning, text to speech and audio description.
DEPwD is also in the process of creating a mobile app, along with a web portal for crowd sourcing the requests regarding inaccessible places. With the app, downloaded on his/her mobile phone, any person would be able to click a photograph or video of an inaccessible public place (like a school, hospital, government office etc.) and upload the same to the Accessible India portal. The portal will process the request for access audit, financial sanction and final retrofitting of the building to make it completely accessible. The mobile app and portal will also seek engagement of big corporates and PSUs to partner in the campaign by offering their help to conduct access audit and for accessibility- conversion of the buildings/transport and websites.
As an offshoot to the campaign, Department has also sought Expression of Interest from IT firms to prepare a mobile app in all Indian languages to locate nearest accessible places. With this mobile app, any disabled person would be able to locate an accessible bank counter, restaurant, ATM or theatre (and similar facilities) nearby. The mobile app will also have provision of evaluating / rating the accessible place by the users.
PIB Feature with inputs provided by Department of Empowerment of Persons With Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India.
Source: Kemmannu News Network , 25th Sep 2015