Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan)

According to a recent draft of the National Building Code, "it will be mandatory for all airports and railway stations to have toilets accessible to the disabled. However, this is not mandatory for 14 other kinds of public places including office buildings, cinemas, convention halls, theatres, art galleries, libraries, museums, hotels, restaurants, schools and educational institutions". (This building code would seem to say disabled people need not attend movies or theatre, eat out in restaurants, or even worse, need not go to school or college lest they might want to use a toilet or be fortunate enough to find employment in an office, where they might need to use the toilet during working hours!)

Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) proclaims that it is the vision of the Government to have an inclusive society where equal opportunities and access is provided for the growth and development of PWDs to lead productive, safe and dignified lives.

It also proclaims an `Action Plan'  which includes the creation of a Steering Committee and Programme Monitoring Unit with representation of Accessibility Professionals and experts; and such experts working in the disability sector are invited to send their particulars with details of experience to the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities or by sending email to mukesh.harvard@gmail.com

If you want to pick a cricket team with a chance of winning anything, do you do so by requesting `experts to send in a bio-data to an appropriate Government Department' or by doing some small homework on who the experts are by asking around? You would find consensus on the best people within a very very short time indeed! If you did that, you would know you have to look no further than Shivani Gupta of AccessAbility or Anjlee Agarwal of Samarthyam, both conveniently located in Delhi. Or if, unlike most decision makers in Delhi, you were prepared to consider the possibility of such expertise existing outside Delhi, you could look up `Disability Rights Alliance' or Bhargav Sundaram of Callidai Motor Works, both in Chennai. (By the way, Bhargav has been sending emails for more than a week now, with serious suggestions to various people in the field trying to put a mechanism in place by which this effort would really be a serious effort rather than just another bit of lip-service; and he seems to have received no official response from Delhi!) If you are really serious about doing what the avowed `Action Plan' above promises, please respond to me. I will give you some email addresses of people to whom this business of accessibility is a very serious matter. You could ask each of them for some names of people doing good work in this area, and you will be surprised at the size of the overlaps of the different lists you will receive.

So in the hope that something clicks, I am posting this in my blog as well as sending an email to the address given above.

1 comment:

  1. The draftees of the Building Code need to spend a full day in a wheel chair attempting to wind their way through public facilities and buildings with limited or no accessibility. Hopefully, the experience will make them better understand the need for making all public areas and facilities accessible.