Persons with disabilities face accessibility challenges in Hyderabad

News, September 9 2016

HYDERABAD, INDIA: On a day the world celebrates paralympic atheletes as they take centrestage at Rio, persons with disabilities in Hyderabad complain of a stark dearth of facilities in the city, not just for sportspersons with disabilities, but also the common man.

Shiva Prasad, an amputee, who has been looking to secure a government job has completely given up hope of ever getting one. It isn’t cracking tests that he fears, but entering buildings that have been allotted to him as exam centres and climbing stairs there. “All the centres that I have been assigned are not conducive for differently-abled persons to enter,” he told. He added that not just government buildings, but several private buildings are also difficult for persons with disabilities to enter.

Recently it was reported in these columns that a paracyclist was humiliated at the New Delhi and Bengaluru international airports with security officials checking his prosthesis for threats. Highlighting that the lack of sensitivity to their needs is not a one off-episode, many persons with disabilities, are now asking the government to rectify the situation.

According to the National Building Code (NBC), buildings are meant to be constructed in such a manner that they can be completely accessed by people in wheelchairs or those using crutches.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), 2008, to which India is a signatory , calls for making buildings, work places, facilities including information, communication and other services, accessible to people with disabilities on an equal basis. In addition, section 46 of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, makes implementation of barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities everywhere, especially in government buildings.

But unfortunately this is not the case. According to Aditya Mehta, the paracyclist who was put through a harrowing experience at two airports, many government buildings in the city are constructed in a manner that accessing them becomes a hassle.

Agreeing with him, Antara Tel ang, a Mumbai-based amputee, said, “Entering or exiting a building is a hassle for many of us. While, there are a number of private buildings which are slowly creating a barrierfree environment. There are not many government structures that we can call barrier-free.”

In fact, reposnses to the Centre’s recently-launched Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), which aims at making all government structures barrierfree, has seen an outpouring of complaints regarding buildings.

“It is not just government offices, even public places such as Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station, Jubilee Bus Station or even Salar Jung Museum fail to be barrier-free,” said Dr R Surya Prakash Rao, a resident of the city , in a response on the website where feedback is being sought.

A few more such buildings which have been listed include, courts, banks, the state secretariat, and ironically , even the department of social welfare. “These buildings need to be revamped to suit the needs of PwDs, as many of them have to frequently visit these places,” said Konuganti Ranga Rao, a resident of the city , on the website.

Source: Times of India

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