Going about the physical built-up environment is something we take for granted. Stairs, sidewalks, gratings, obstructions, curves, narrow passages etc. are barriers that we walk over, around, or through our routine course. But a curb or a few stairs can be a big barrier for those with disability. And, finally, India is waking up to that fact.
Nearly 2.68 crore differently-abled people in the country have a reason to cheer with the government deciding to make all airports, major railway stations and 4,000 key buildings disabled-friendly in the next few months.
As part of its Accessible India campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), 75 A1, A and B category railway stations and International airports will be made disabled friendly by July 2016, while domestic terminals by July 2019.
The government has started auditing 27 international airports and 75 railway stations to identify areas that need to be improved and made disabled-friendly. The list includes airports at Srinagar, Amritsar, Jaipur, New Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Goa, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Port Blair, and Bhopal.
The Accessible India campaign has three components – Accessible Environment, Transport, and Information and Communication Accessibility.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will conduct an access-audit of at least 100 important government buildings in 48 cities and convert them into fully accessible infrastructure for the differently-abled by July, 2019.
“We have selected 48 cities in this country and asked the state governments to give us the list of 100 buildings in each of these cities. We will make all these 4,800 buildings accessible through retro-fitting after doing an access-audit,” said Mukesh Jain, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The second component of the campaign will also cover transforming the Public transport including railways stations, airports and buses into differently-abled friendly.
“Transport system is absolutely inaccessible in this country. While all international airports have been decided to be made accessible by July 2016, domestic airports will be done by July 2019. A1, A and B category of railways stations, which are 75 in number will be improvised to make them disabled friendly by the same period (2016),” he said, adding that 25 per cent of the buses will also be included in the Transport Accessible campaign.
In the information and communication accessibility domain, 3,000 out of 6,000 people-centric websites, including passport services, will also be made disabled-friendly.
Mukesh akin also said – “The target will ensure conversion into disabled-friendly information public documents, such as laws, regulations and reports, and all current websites to meet the relevant International Organisation for Standardisation,”
It has been the vision of the country to have an inclusive society where equal opportunities and access is provided for the growth and development of differently-abled people to lead a productive, safe and dignified life.