Indian government frames accessibility guidelines for buildings

Asia-Pacific, December 14 2015

NEW DELHI: The government has formulated guidelines to make all government and private buildings, including malls, restaurants and public dealing offices, accessible to persons with disabilities and older people.

The Union urban development ministry, after a year’s spadework, has prepared “harmonised guidelines and space standards for barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities”.

The 100-page document lists out detailed specifications for all new buildings, including specifications on access to buildings, provision of accessible toilets, specifications of walkways, floor patterns, illumination levels, door handles, lifts, height of public telephones, vending machines, ATMs and drop boxes.

The need for the guidelines was felt after the ministry of social justice and empowerment pointed out that there are varied specifications from Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and state agencies. The ministry of social justice asked the urban development ministry to formulate guidelines that would be common standard for all public buildings.

“At present, there are no common standards. With Accessible India being implemented by the Centre on mission mode, such guidelines become essential. So, these guidelines have been formulated,” a senior official told.

All public buildings have to comply with accessibility requirement for persons with disabilities including government institutions, office buildings, residential buildings, commercial buildings, health facilities, restaurants, recreational and sports facilities, religious buildings and all other building types used by the general public.

At present, these guidelines are not mandatory for private players. “For private players, these would be simple guidelines. But if somebody wants to build an accessible building, these standards have to be adhered to,” said an official involved in framing the guidelines.

The urban development ministry officials formulated the guidelines after consultations with organisations working with persons with disabilities and detailed study of international standards. The document includes detailed guidelines such as provision of at least one entrance for a wheelchair user, unisex toilets on each floor of a multi-level building, no use of cobblestones on pathways, tactile guidance strips along the hallways, no confusing floor patterns like stripes, minimum illumination levels in lux, handrails with braille panels and door handles with simple pull and push mechanism.

Source: Economic Times

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