Sunday, 28 August 2016
DISABLED-UNFRIENDLY - Ahmedabad
The disabled-friendly areas should be colour demarcated and texture demarcated so that even the visually impaired can have easy access, says Anjlee Agarwal
The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad is an inspiration when it comes to everything related to management and even architecture. But that can't be said of its 'disabled friendliness' if the speech of a keynote speaker at a Smart City Conclave held on the new campus is anything to go by. Speaking at the conclave on Universal Design and Accessibility in Smart City organised on the new IIMA campus, Anjlee Agarwal, who uses a wheel chair, said, "The new campus of IIMA is unsuitable for disabled like me." Agarwal, an executive director and access consultant of Samarthyam, pointed out that though the campus had ramps and special areas for the disabled, failure to colour and texture demarcate these sections made it difficult to access.
Samarthyam is a Delhi-based organization that promotes implementation of design accessibility. Recounting her experience at IIMA, she claimed that she barely escaped tumbling down a cemented platform on campus because she mistook the steps for the ramp as it merged with the flooring, making it difficult for her to distinguish it. She said, "On Friday, I was on campus and escaped falling down.
The ramp and the cement platform merged at a place and since they were of the same colour, I couldn't tell where the ramp started. This is why it is important to colour demarcate the areas for the physically challenged. I shouldn't have to hunt for it, it should be easily visible." The conclave supported by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment focused on bringing together all stakeholders to discuss challenges and way forward for accessibility in Smart City. Parag Panchal, a participant, said, "Accessibility should be implemented, not just discussed.
I use crutches and I found the floors to be too slippery. One could easily fall if not extremely careful. It was difficult for me to balance myself on crutches." Agarwal said that having a symbolic ramp or making toilets that are accessible for the disabled doesn't make a place disabled-friendly. She said, "IIMA is a premier institute that has become a model for institutes across the country. It is astonishing and sad that the institute has failed to factor in accessibility for the visually impaired as well as the speech and hearing impaired.
The campus has some areas that are created for those with locomotive disabilities but it has a long way to go before it becomes disabled-friendly." She added that her organisation had audited buildings and conducted a workshop with architects on IIMA campus in 2008, suggesting ways to make buildings disabled-friendly. "It is sad that eight years later, nothing has changed." Agarwal suggested that apart from making ramps, the disabledfriendly areas should be colour demarcated and texture demarcated so that even the visually impaired can have easy access. "We will suggest these changes to the IIMA officials. Since it is a premier institute, it would be nice if it becomes a model for all the architects across the country."
Speaking on the issue, Professor Ashis Jalote Parmar who is the brain behind the conclave said, "The report that Anjlee is talking about is with the management. Restoration work is going on the old campus and it will take some time to implement the suggestions. But we have still made some temporary ramps on campus so that people with locomotive disabilities don't suffer." Parmar who spent three months setting up the event said, "Based on my research on accessibility, the Union Ministry of Social Justice invited me to comment on their accessibility policy.
I gave them my suggestions which were received favourably and Isought research grant. The ministry officials agreed and supported in conducting this conclave, bringing different ministries together." Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar who delivered a talk in the second session of the conclave and interacted with the participants said, "Such conclaves are important to sensitise people about accessibility. I believe such conclaves help in understanding the difficulties that disabled face." Deepinder Singh, from Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology was also one of the speakers at the conclave.
Source : Ahmedabad Mirror , 28th Aug 2016