Brainstorming to make India accessible for persons with disabilities

Asia-Pacific, September 20 2015

AHMEDABAD, INDIA: Central government officials and over 250 representatives of state-based advocacy NGOs gathered at Ahmedabad Management Association on Tuesday to discuss Accessible India campaign for persons with disabilities. The campaign will be launched on International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3.

Mukesh Jain – joint secretary of department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, ministry of social justice and empowerment – who interacted with NGO representatives, told TOI that the campaign has three major aspects: built environment, transportation facilities and information and communication technology.

“Our aim is to implement the framework which is already in place. This requires all public buildings to be accessible, complete with Braille signs, ramps and lifts. Second aspect is to standardize transport such as buses, trains and even airplanes. Third and most important aspect is the use of information and communication technology where government websites should have facilities like audio options and bigger fonts,” said Jain, who is visiting various states to disseminate information and invite suggestions for the campaign.

He said the purpose of his visit was to include NGOs in the process. “Gujarat has some excellent organizations such as BPA (Blind People’s Association) that is working in the field for decades. Experience of such organizations would help us immensely in forming the framework,” said Jain.

The event was organized by the BPA and CBM Germany. Welcoming the move, Geeta Sharma, programme coordinator with Unnati Organization for Development Education, said that when they started advocacy for accessibility a decade ago, a few people had idea about it. “Today the scenario has changed. With proper implementation of the initiative that covers education, employability and accessibility, I believe we would be able to empower persons with disabilities,” she said.

Nandkishor Parikh of Society for Welfare of Mentally Retarded said, “Over 90 per cent facilities for persons with disabilities are in cities. Identification of disability and addressing it by parents and family is the first step towards inclusivity,” he said.

Source: Times of India

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