Are You Interested in Representing Your Country for the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES)?

GAATES is seeking Country Representatives to promote accessibility in your country and participate in the Global Alliance.

GAATES is the leading international organization focusing on accessibility of the built environment, transportation, information and communications technologies and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Please submit your applications for consideration.

Applications will be reviewed by our Review Committee which meets every 3 months.  Positions are for 1 year terms.

For more information on the Benefits and Obligations of being a Country Representative, and for the application form, please visit GAATES at http://gaates.org/regions

If you are not yet a member, but are interested in applying for a Country Representative position, GAATES membership is free, just register on-line at http://gaates.org/join/country-rep-application

Thank you for your interest, we look forward to hearing from you.

Mukhtar Al Shibani
GAATES President

Building barrier-free environment in Ghana for people with disabilities

Feb 20: Ghana is among the few countries in Africa that have taken affirmative action in favour of marginalised groups at a higher level with a focus on persons with disabilities. These efforts have resulted in laws and policies promoting equality, inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in society.

The Government of the Republic of Ghana back in 1996 developed the National Disability Policy leading to the passage on the National Disability Law, Act 715 of 2006 aims at promoting equal opportunities, enhance, empower and seek the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities irrespective of gender, age, or type of disability.

However, advocacy, implementation and supervision of disability programmes are severely lacking. Accessibility is one of the key elements addressed in these policies and laws. Due to limited enforcement of disability laws, absence of National Accessibility Standards and lack of knowledge about the rights of persons with disabilities, laws and policies on accessibility have been largely overlooked.

What is accessibility?

Accessibility entails understanding its relation to areas of life beyond just the physical environment.
Areas that are often overlooked are access to services, information and communication which are an integral part of making a barrier-free society and address the accessibility needs of persons with sensory, intellectual and psychosocial disabilities as well. These aspects should be addressed in a set of complementary Standards.

The environment in Ghana is not barrier-free. It does not allow easy and safe movement, function or access for all, regardless of age, sex or condition. Access by all to physical space and to services is not possible without obstacles, which leads to loss of dignity and independence.

This is in recognition that persons with disabilities can live to their full potential given the same conditions and opportunities. The national disability policy and Act 715 and the 1992republican Constitution and other legal legislations also provide for accessibility not only for persons with disabilities but also for elderly persons, the sick, pregnant women, and those carrying heavy loads.

Despite the efforts of the government to establish a conducive environment for participation of Persons with disabilities in all spheres of life, there is still difficulties in terms of accessing the physical infrastructure as most buildings do not have facilities such as ramps, lifts, and so on.

Some of the existing accessibility facilities are not designed according to the required Standards and as a result, persons with disabilities continue to face difficulties in accessing them. Leading to discrimination, violation of the rights of persons with disability and deliberately putting impediment to the disabled to exhibit their full potential to contribute to the development of Ghana and Africa.

People affected by accessibility barriers: People who use wheelchairs, people with limited walking/movement abilities, People with visual impairment or low vision, People with hearing impairment, People with intellectual disabilities, People with psychosocial disabilities, Elderly persons, Pregnant women and People with temporary disabilities

The need for Accessibility Standards: To the best of my knowledge one of the cardinal reasons why it has been very difficult to implement the legal provisions on accessibility is the absence of Accessibility Standards to guide architects, property developers, policy makers and implementers on the accessibility requirements in the physical environment during the design and implementation of construction projects.

The goal of the Accessibility Standards is to contribute to improving equal access for persons with disabilities, in order to enable them to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life.

• To provide a blueprint for creating an accessible physical environment.
• To provide a tool for measurement and auditing of accessibility of the environment.
The Standards are intended for use by a variety of stakeholders, including those that:
• Develop laws, policies and regulations e.g Parliament and line ministries.
• Build and implement changes in the physical environment such as architects, contractors, engineers and those who own or operate public infrastructure or services like the banks, churches and other service providers.

ACCESSIBILITY FOR PERSONS WITH DIFFERENT DISABILITIES

The principal targets for these Standards are people with different disabilities. In order to harmonize between the accessibility needs of different groups, there is need to have a proper understanding of these needs which differ from one disability to another.

People who use wheelchairs: Many accessibility requirements relate to dimensions and other aspects of wheelchairs. In order to achieve a complete turn with the wheelchair, it is necessary to provide an unobstructed circle with a minimum diameter of 1.50m.

Considerable energy is required to propel a wheelchair manually up ramps, over changes in level and over soft or uneven surfaces. Therefore the Standards address those aspects in particular.

Resistance between the floor and the wheelchair wheels depends on the floor surface of the pathway – whether it is even or uneven, firm or loose. Changes in level should be avoided and the floor surface should be hard, even and slip resistant.

People with movement difficulties may use crutches or sticks: Special attention must be paid to avoid broken, rough or sloping floor surface and surfaces that become particularly slippery after rainfall, such as wood covering, granite, hard burnt bricks, gravel and Murom.

The following aspects are important to enable independent movement for people using wheelchairs and other assistive devices:

• Changes in level should be avoided.
• Floor surfaces should be hard, even and slip resistant.
• Rails should be provided on stairs and ramps.
• Ramps should have resting places and be of low slope along travel routes.
• Pathways should be of limited slope and include sufficient turning radius.
• Doors should be light and easy to turn, and entrances should be sufficiently wide.
• Parking space should be close to the main entrance.
• Furniture, counters, equipment, power sockets, and plugs should be placed at suitable heights reachable by persons who use wheelchairs.
• Handrails should be easy to grasp.

Persons with visual impairments: For blind persons and persons with visual impairments, orientation can be eased by the use of contrasting colours and changes in the texture of the floor material. This helps a blind person in identifying doors, stairs, steps, ramps and pedestrian crossings.

The path of travel should be easy to detect by a blind person using a long white cane. A guide strip with a contrasting floor texture running parallel to main pathway should be used for this purpose.
The use of protruding elements and low overhanging signs should be avoided in pathways.
Visual capability is different from one person to another and changes with age and disability.
Lighting systems should be made to suit different needs a In order to provide a barrier-free environment for blind persons and persons with visual impairment, the physical surroundings should be arranged in a simple and logical way.
Visual information should be accompanied by audible information, handrails should be available to grip when using stairs, and ramps, entrances, stairs, and information boards should be well lighted.

Blind persons are aided by tactile and auditory information. Therefore, written information should be made available in braille and visual information should be accompanied by audible information.

Persons with hearing impairments: People with hearing impairments may experience difficulty in distinguishing words and sounds in noisy environments. Therefore, rooms should be acoustically insulated.

Supplementary visual information should be provided for deaf persons and persons with hearing impairments, such as visual information at airports and bus stations, and alarms and bells in lifts.

People with learning or intellectual disabilities: Some people with learning or intellectual disabilities experience difficulties in understanding or interpreting information like signs, and in distinguishing between different colours or between left or right.

The following design elements will enable people experiencing these difficulties to physically access the built environment: simple design with clear and unambiguous sign postings; use of signs and notice boards with pictures and symbols; and separation of a mass of information into a number of signs that can be more easily read and understood than in one sign.

Other Groups: In addition to enabling access to persons with disabilities, the Standards also ensure access to other groups, such as elderly persons, pregnant women, people and children with temporary disabilities, and people carrying heavy or cumbersome luggage. In short, accessibility benefits all persons and the Standards ensure a barrier-free environment for all people include the possibility of adjustments from low to strong light.
Winding staircases, vertical turning doors and side-hung doors should equally be avoided.

Conclusion
Despite the efforts of the government, Ghana Federation of the Disabled and its partner, the network of journalist for the promotion of the Rights of persons with Disability in Africa (PROMOAFRICA) and other OPWDs to establish a conducive environment for participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life, they still face difficulties in terms of accessing the physical infrastructure.

Most buildings do not have facilities such as ramps, lifts, and so on. Some of the existing accessibility facilities are not designed according to the required Standards and as a result, persons with disabilities continue to face difficulties in accessing them. The responsibility lies on us as citizen to help build a better environment all persons living in the land of gold call Ghana. The author is the president of the network of Journalists for the Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disability in Africa (PROMOAFRICA) and the managing editor of the EVENING TRIBUNE newspaper.

Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com

Building barrier-free environment in Ghana for people with disabilities

Feb 20: Ghana is among the few countries in Africa that have taken affirmative action in favour of marginalised groups at a higher level with a focus on persons with disabilities. These efforts have resulted in laws and policies promoting equality, inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in society.

The Government of the Republic of Ghana back in 1996 developed the National Disability Policy leading to the passage on the National Disability Law, Act 715 of 2006 aims at promoting equal opportunities, enhance, empower and seek the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities irrespective of gender, age, or type of disability.

However, advocacy, implementation and supervision of disability programmes are severely lacking. Accessibility is one of the key elements addressed in these policies and laws. Due to limited enforcement of disability laws, absence of National Accessibility Standards and lack of knowledge about the rights of persons with disabilities, laws and policies on accessibility have been largely overlooked.

What is accessibility?

Accessibility entails understanding its relation to areas of life beyond just the physical environment.
Areas that are often overlooked are access to services, information and communication which are an integral part of making a barrier-free society and address the accessibility needs of persons with sensory, intellectual and psychosocial disabilities as well. These aspects should be addressed in a set of complementary Standards.

The environment in Ghana is not barrier-free. It does not allow easy and safe movement, function or access for all, regardless of age, sex or condition. Access by all to physical space and to services is not possible without obstacles, which leads to loss of dignity and independence.

This is in recognition that persons with disabilities can live to their full potential given the same conditions and opportunities. The national disability policy and Act 715 and the 1992republican Constitution and other legal legislations also provide for accessibility not only for persons with disabilities but also for elderly persons, the sick, pregnant women, and those carrying heavy loads.

Despite the efforts of the government to establish a conducive environment for participation of Persons with disabilities in all spheres of life, there is still difficulties in terms of accessing the physical infrastructure as most buildings do not have facilities such as ramps, lifts, and so on.

Some of the existing accessibility facilities are not designed according to the required Standards and as a result, persons with disabilities continue to face difficulties in accessing them. Leading to discrimination, violation of the rights of persons with disability and deliberately putting impediment to the disabled to exhibit their full potential to contribute to the development of Ghana and Africa.

People affected by accessibility barriers: People who use wheelchairs, people with limited walking/movement abilities, People with visual impairment or low vision, People with hearing impairment, People with intellectual disabilities, People with psychosocial disabilities, Elderly persons, Pregnant women and People with temporary disabilities

The need for Accessibility Standards: To the best of my knowledge one of the cardinal reasons why it has been very difficult to implement the legal provisions on accessibility is the absence of Accessibility Standards to guide architects, property developers, policy makers and implementers on the accessibility requirements in the physical environment during the design and implementation of construction projects.

The goal of the Accessibility Standards is to contribute to improving equal access for persons with disabilities, in order to enable them to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life.

• To provide a blueprint for creating an accessible physical environment.
• To provide a tool for measurement and auditing of accessibility of the environment.
The Standards are intended for use by a variety of stakeholders, including those that:
• Develop laws, policies and regulations e.g Parliament and line ministries.
• Build and implement changes in the physical environment such as architects, contractors, engineers and those who own or operate public infrastructure or services like the banks, churches and other service providers.

ACCESSIBILITY FOR PERSONS WITH DIFFERENT DISABILITIES

The principal targets for these Standards are people with different disabilities. In order to harmonize between the accessibility needs of different groups, there is need to have a proper understanding of these needs which differ from one disability to another.

People who use wheelchairs: Many accessibility requirements relate to dimensions and other aspects of wheelchairs. In order to achieve a complete turn with the wheelchair, it is necessary to provide an unobstructed circle with a minimum diameter of 1.50m.

Considerable energy is required to propel a wheelchair manually up ramps, over changes in level and over soft or uneven surfaces. Therefore the Standards address those aspects in particular.

Resistance between the floor and the wheelchair wheels depends on the floor surface of the pathway – whether it is even or uneven, firm or loose. Changes in level should be avoided and the floor surface should be hard, even and slip resistant.

People with movement difficulties may use crutches or sticks: Special attention must be paid to avoid broken, rough or sloping floor surface and surfaces that become particularly slippery after rainfall, such as wood covering, granite, hard burnt bricks, gravel and Murom.

The following aspects are important to enable independent movement for people using wheelchairs and other assistive devices:

• Changes in level should be avoided.
• Floor surfaces should be hard, even and slip resistant.
• Rails should be provided on stairs and ramps.
• Ramps should have resting places and be of low slope along travel routes.
• Pathways should be of limited slope and include sufficient turning radius.
• Doors should be light and easy to turn, and entrances should be sufficiently wide.
• Parking space should be close to the main entrance.
• Furniture, counters, equipment, power sockets, and plugs should be placed at suitable heights reachable by persons who use wheelchairs.
• Handrails should be easy to grasp.

Persons with visual impairments: For blind persons and persons with visual impairments, orientation can be eased by the use of contrasting colours and changes in the texture of the floor material. This helps a blind person in identifying doors, stairs, steps, ramps and pedestrian crossings.

The path of travel should be easy to detect by a blind person using a long white cane. A guide strip with a contrasting floor texture running parallel to main pathway should be used for this purpose.
The use of protruding elements and low overhanging signs should be avoided in pathways.
Visual capability is different from one person to another and changes with age and disability.
Lighting systems should be made to suit different needs a In order to provide a barrier-free environment for blind persons and persons with visual impairment, the physical surroundings should be arranged in a simple and logical way.
Visual information should be accompanied by audible information, handrails should be available to grip when using stairs, and ramps, entrances, stairs, and information boards should be well lighted.

Blind persons are aided by tactile and auditory information. Therefore, written information should be made available in braille and visual information should be accompanied by audible information.

Persons with hearing impairments: People with hearing impairments may experience difficulty in distinguishing words and sounds in noisy environments. Therefore, rooms should be acoustically insulated.

Supplementary visual information should be provided for deaf persons and persons with hearing impairments, such as visual information at airports and bus stations, and alarms and bells in lifts.

People with learning or intellectual disabilities: Some people with learning or intellectual disabilities experience difficulties in understanding or interpreting information like signs, and in distinguishing between different colours or between left or right.

The following design elements will enable people experiencing these difficulties to physically access the built environment: simple design with clear and unambiguous sign postings; use of signs and notice boards with pictures and symbols; and separation of a mass of information into a number of signs that can be more easily read and understood than in one sign.

Other Groups: In addition to enabling access to persons with disabilities, the Standards also ensure access to other groups, such as elderly persons, pregnant women, people and children with temporary disabilities, and people carrying heavy or cumbersome luggage. In short, accessibility benefits all persons and the Standards ensure a barrier-free environment for all people include the possibility of adjustments from low to strong light.
Winding staircases, vertical turning doors and side-hung doors should equally be avoided.

Conclusion
Despite the efforts of the government, Ghana Federation of the Disabled and its partner, the network of journalist for the promotion of the Rights of persons with Disability in Africa (PROMOAFRICA) and other OPWDs to establish a conducive environment for participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life, they still face difficulties in terms of accessing the physical infrastructure.

Most buildings do not have facilities such as ramps, lifts, and so on. Some of the existing accessibility facilities are not designed according to the required Standards and as a result, persons with disabilities continue to face difficulties in accessing them. The responsibility lies on us as citizen to help build a better environment all persons living in the land of gold call Ghana. The author is the president of the network of Journalists for the Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disability in Africa (PROMOAFRICA) and the managing editor of the EVENING TRIBUNE newspaper.

Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com

ISO Establishes New Task Force on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

ISO Logo

ISO Logo

INTERNATIONAL: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) announced that they have established a new Task Force on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Several of GAATES Founding Board Members are active participants in ISO Task Forces and have shared that the new “Task Force will:

  1. Review the mapping of ISO standards to the SDGs,
  2. Determine the priority SDGs for ISO,
  3. Oversee the design of a website that can be used by members and businesses to find the right standards in support of any particular SDG,
  4. Develop guidance for committees on how to proactively look for the right partnerships (e.g. with UN and other international organizations), and
  5. Provide recommendations for which organizations ISO should engage with (e.g. consortia, other IOs) in the promotion of standards in support of SDGs.”

At the time of writing ISO 21542 : 2011 – Building construction (Accessibility and usability of the built environment) has been adopted as the National Standard in many countries, including: Kenya, Spain, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Italy, Ecuador and Denmark to name a few.

According to their website, the ISO 21542 “specifies a range of requirements and recommendations for many of the elements of construction, assemblies, components and fittings which comprise the built environment. These requirements relate to the constructional aspects of access to buildings, to circulation within buildings, to egress from buildings in the normal course of events and evacuation in the event of an emergency. It also deals with aspects of accessibility management in buildings.”

 

Sources:

ISO 21542:2011

https://www.iso.org/standard/50498.html

Zero Project Conference

Group Photo of some Participants of the Zero Project.

Zero Project Group Photo

VIENNA, AUSTRIA: From February 21st to the 23rd  of February, GAATES was actively engaged in the Zero Project Conference. The Zero Project is an initiative of the ESSL Foundation, with the mission of supporting the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for a world without barriers. Today, the Zero Project is composed of a network of 4,000 experts that represent over 150 countries.

Since 2010, the Zero Project Conference has brought together an expert Network, which includes representatives of International organizations, multinational companies, leading NGOs, and entrepreneurs — to highlight global innovative policies and practices that actively promote the principles enshrined in the CRPD. During each Conference, an Awards ceremony recognizes different international policies or practices that have improved the lives of persons with disabilities and lead to greater accessibility to the built and digital environment.

Photo of Dr Salem A. Alshafiei presenting on stage

Dr Salem A. Alshafiei

One of the policies recognized during this year’s Awards ceremony, was the Dubai Universal Accessibility Strategy and Action Plan (DUASAP)– a project in which GAATES was directly involved in the development of the policy. Stemming from the strategic goal of being full accessible by 2020, the Government of the Emirate of Dubai chose to collaborate with GAATES to develop the DUASAP that addressed the areas of legislation, governance and enforcement, retrofitting, capacity building and awareness-raising in the Emirate.

Dr Salem A. Alshafiei, of the General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Dubai, accepted the award on behalf of the Emirate of Dubai and GAATES. We would like to thank him and the Government of Dubai for their commitment to accessibility, universal design and inclusion.

GAATES additionally organized a Forum on Urban Development, presented the International Certified Accessibility Consultant – Built Environment (ICAC-BE) Program and held our Annual General Meeting (AGM).

We would also like to welcome our newest Board member, Alireza Darvishy, who accepted his nomination formally during the AGM. We are looking forward to collaborating with Alireza and our dynamic members of the Board and Country Representative Program to further our mission and reach in 2018.

Photo of Tracey Shipman, Program Director of GAATES, presenting the International Certfied Accessibility Consultant-Built Environment (ICAC-BE) Program in a panel discussion during the Zero Project

Tracey Shipman presenting GAATES ICAC-BE Program at the Zero Project Conference

The days in Vienna went by fast but it was wonderful to connect with the GAATES family, share laughs, good food and plan our strategic objectives for our dynamic and impactful engagements this year!

Bis nächstes Jahr Zero Project

 

100 Accessible Websites of Various State Governments/UTs Under Accessible India Campaign Launched – Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot Inaugurates ‘National Conference on Improving Accessibility’

NEW DELHI, INDIA: In a path breaking initiative to empower Persons with Disabilities, 100 Accessible websites of various State Governments/UTs under Accessible India Campaign were launched by the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot on the occasion of ‘National Conference on Improving Accessibility’ here today (January 19th, 2018). Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Vijay Sampla and Shri Krishna Pal Gurjar were present. Secretary, DEPwD Shri Shakuntala D. Gamlin and the officials from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development participated in the conference and submitted their valuable inputs on implementation of accessibility in various walks of life.

The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot addressing at the inauguration of the 'National Conference on Improving Accessibility', organised by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), in New Delhi on January 19, 2018. The Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Vijay Sampla and Shri Krishan Pal are also pictured.

The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot addressing at the inauguration of the ‘National Conference on Improving Accessibility’, organised by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), in New Delhi on January 19, 2018.
The Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Vijay Sampla and Shri Krishan Pal are also pictured.

Accessible Websites are those websites into which Persons with Disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) initiated a “Website Accessibility Project” for State Government/Union Territories under Accessible India Campaign through ERNET India, an autonomous scientific society under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), to make total 917 websites accessible and providing funds for the same. Now 100 accessible websites are made accessible under the project.

The aim of the conference was to sensitize and bring awareness among different stakeholders including the officials of state government on accessibility in the context of recently enacted Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2016. The Accessible India Campaign has three important components viz Built Environment; Transport and Information and Communication Eco-system accessibility.

In his address, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment said that the Divyangjans are an integral part of our society and we have to play an active role for their welfare. He said that Accessible India Campaign is a nationwide flagship campaign of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The aim of the campaign is to make a barrier free environment for persons with disabilities all over the country for safe, dignified life of Persons with Disabilities. He said that around 5800 ADIP camps had been organised nationwide by his ministry for distribution of assistive device to Divyangjans. He opined that such Accessible websites will play an important role in proper dissemination of Governments policies and schemes for the welfare of Divyangjans.

Shri Vijay Sampla in his address said that today we have moved ahead are more step towards Accessible India campaign by launching 100 Accessible websites of various State Governments/UTs under Accessible India Campaign. He said that DEPwD is doing a commendable job in this regard.

In his address Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar said that during past three and a half years many revolutionary steps have been taken by DEPwD, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment for the welfare of Divyangjans. He said that we need to empower the Divyangjans so that they can lead a normal life.

Addressing the gathering, Mrs. Shakuntala D Gamlin urged the Central and State Government Departments to adopt accessibility standards while providing any service be it physical, infrastructural and IT etc.

Mrs. Dolly Chakrabarty Joint Secretary, DEPwD emphasized on ensuring rural access as there is substantial difference in planning accessibility in rural areas and it is a less talked about topic in the growing era of urbanization.

ERNET India (MEITY) is executing the project which is funded by DEPwD under Accessibility India Campaign so far 917 websites across 27 States & UT have been chosen from the list of websites which have been provided by the State Social Welfare Departments through DEPwD.


Accessible Website Design Principles:Provide appropriate alternative text, Caption video; Provide transcripts for audio; All documents (e.g., PDFs) to be accessible; Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning; and Make sure content is structured, clearly written and easy to read.

Current Status of Accessible Websites: –Total no. of websites: 917; Under Development: 244; Developed and Internally Audited: 208; and   Live: 100

Web content accessibility guidelines –WCAG 2.0 :- Websites are made accessible by complying it as per Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standard organisation for the World Wide Web.

The guideline establish three levels of accessibility on basis of which websites are designed, namely:

  • Level A: This Indicates the basic level of accessibility that any web page must have
  • Level AA: This indicates an intermediate level of accessibility that any web page should have
  • Level AAA: This indicates the highest level of accessibility that any web page can achieve

The founding principles of the guidelines state information and user interface components must be presentable to user in ways they can perceive, user interface components and navigation must be operable and information and the operation of user interface must be understandable. Moreover, content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

*****

Sanjay Kumar/jk/SJ&E/19-01-2018

www.pib.nic.in

Reposted with permission.

 

Make government buildings easier to access for persons with disabilities: SC

NEW DELHI, INDIA: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that accessibility to buildings of the central and state governments should be made easier for persons with disabilities.

RampA bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan issued 11 directions requiring both the Centre and state governments to provide accessibility features like ramps, accessible toilets, lifts with Braille symbols, and auditory signals for physically challenged persons in such buildings, including educational institutions, railway stations, airports and public transport.

The court directed the setting up of Central and State Advisory Boards on the issue within three months.

Referring to Sections 60 and 66 of the Disabilities Act, 2016, the apex court said: “In order to effectively implement the said Act, it becomes the duty of the states and UTs to constitute such advisory boards. Therefore, we direct these advisory boards be constituted by all States/Union Territories within three months from today (Friday).”

“… the intention of the legislature is clear and unambiguous when it enacted the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act (of 1995), an important feature of which is the creation of a barrier-free built environment.”

The court said Section 41 of the Disabilities Act, 2016, provides for “comprehensive accessibility in all modes of transport, including, but not remitted, to bus transport”.

“It is the duty of the Union (of India), States, as well as Union Territories to ensure that all government buses are accessible for persons with disabilities in accordance with the Harmonised Guidelines and they are duty-bound to see that private buses also become accessible for persons with disabilities.”

The Supreme Court directed the government to lay out a plan and provide dates by which its directions will be carried out and asked for the submission within three months.

The court directed for listing of the matter after three months after the filing of the report.

The apex court was hearing a public interest litigation preferred by Gurugram-based visually challenged Rajiv Raturi who sought proper and adequate access to public places and transport for persons with disabilities. Raturi works for a Delhi-based human rights organisation.

Source: Zee News

A Global Collaboration for Accessibility

On November 15, 2017, the DIAUD Network hosted another productive meeting coordinating efforts for participation in the upcoming 9th session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9).  Members from UN Habitat’s General Assembly of Partners (GAP) updated the network on the changing structure of the WUF, and offered suggestions for increasing participation and collaboration at the event.  Network members were able to discuss their side event submissions and gained additional member support to enhance their applications.

Since the meeting, network members worldwide were able to propose a variety of inclusive multi-stakeholder side events, networking events, and training events, and the DIAUD network looks forward to an exciting Forum in February.

The November 15th DIAUD  meeting also featured a presentation from  Tracey Shipman, Program Director for Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) who is celebrating their tenth anniversary as an international non-profit organization, dedicated to promoting accessibility worldwide.  GAATES membership includes grassroots organizations, professional stakeholders, NGOs, DPOs, Civil Society organizations, professional associations, private sector organization and individuals, with active members in the Asia-Pacific, Arab, North America, South America, Europe, and Africa Regions. Ms. Shipman shared with the network some of the programming updates and new opportunities at GAATES such as the updated Country Representative program and the newly launched International Certification of Accessibility Consultants – Built Environment..

The GAATES Country Representative Program works to promote the implementation and monitoring of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, civil society contributions related to the Global Development Agenda Post 2015, and sustainable development of the built and virtual environments based on the principles of Universal Design.  GAATES Country Representatives are volunteers committed to achieving the organization’s mission and goals within their country, and are critical in awareness raising and encouraging collaboration.  Their roles include representing GAATES at local, national and international accessibility meetings, events and conferences, generating content for the GAN, identifying projects working in collaboration with GAATES, and providing mentoring and feedback in the accessibility field. Currently, GAATES is working to expand this program with calls open throughout South and Central America, in Thailand, in Japan, and in Europe.  Ms. Shipman welcomed applications from network members and encouraged them to share these opportunities with their colleagues as well.

checklistMs. Shipman next presented GAATES’ exciting new program, the International Certification of Accessibility Consultants – Built Environment (ICAC-BE), which certifies consultants based on their experience and credentials within the field of accessibility.  She announced that the program received approval to open for public registration on November 1st, and encouraged network members to apply, finding specific details on their website. The program is intended to fill an industry gap, providing recognition to practitioners in the field.

There are three levels of the certification: Associate, Professional, and Advanced Accessibility Consultant.  Each level of certification is based on specific levels of experience and specialization, with reviews conducted quarterly by an Expert Panel.  Once certified, consultants must ensuring continual development of their skills to maintain their certification, evaluated on a  triennially basis.  Network members were very excited to hear of this opportunity, confirming that this is indeed a gap in recognition and validation within the industry and expect the program to be well received by their colleagues..

The DIAUD Network’s next meeting will take place on Wednesday November 29th, 2017 at 8:00pm EDT (2:00 AM CEST | 9:00 AM HKT – next day). Dr. Victor Pineda, President of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments GAATES, President of World Enabled Foundation, will be leading a discussion and overview about the PWD-PCG applications for Side Events at the World Urban Forum 9 on Kuala Lumpur, February 2018.  The collaboration between the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) , the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), and World Enabled makes the DIAUD Network possible.  These network meetings are hosted and recorded on a virtual platform by IDPP and the recordings are available to registered DIAUD Network members.  In order to receive updates and further your participation with the Network, join the mailing list, go to https://goo.gl/dtxWJf.

 

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Photo of 9 Members from The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments' Delegation at the Conference of State '10 at the UN Headquaters in New York.

Members of GAATES at the COSP 17

For the last month of this dynamic year we recognize, on Sunday December 3rd, the 25th anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). Along with the IDPD, the strides that have been made in disability rights with the global recognition of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is highly inspiring, which currently has been ratified by 175 countries. The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) is pleased to be represented by our President and Mexico Country Representative, Dr. Victor Pineda and Janett Jimenez Santos, at the UNDESA organized events for IDPD at the UN Headquarters in New York. The events at the UNHQ today are surrounded on the theme of “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”, Watch the message from our president for IDPD, go to https://goo.gl/wZSDTp

GAATES has been dedicated to the implementation of the guiding principles and Article 9, on Accessibility, of the UNCRPD for over 10 years with the expansive network of accessibility experts that form part of the consortium through our board members and country representatives. This past year GAATES has directly been involved in advocating for and raising awareness on Urban Accessibility, Humanitarian Emergencies, Mobility and accessibility of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) at the Conference of States Parties ’10, UN Habitat Expert’s Meeting on the New Urban Agenda (NUA), Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit’s (GIZ) conference on implementing the NUA, and within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of ICT. GAATES’ also recently launched the International Certification of Accessibility Consultants –Built Environment (ICAC-BE) Program, which is the first international-level certification program for experts in accessibility of the built environment.

Photo of individuals siting on the floor making at a Refugee Camp in Thessaloniki which GAATES visited in June 2017.

Refugee Camp in Thessaloniki

GAATES has also expanded the network of its partnerships this year to include the Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development (DIAUD) Network and the Inter Agency Standing Committee Task Team on Persons with Disabilities (IASC TT). These two networks create a platform to connect experts on Accessibility, Urban Development, Disability Rights and Humanitarian Action towards the implementation of globally recognized human rights frameworks and commitments. Through these networks, as well as our internal network, GAATES is looking towards comprehensive and inclusive approaches to ensure that universal design and accessibility are not forgotten in any environment.

Persons with disabilities and older persons are not living in silos, they are actively engaged and contribute in many areas of development and must not be excluded. As we think of the strides that have been made in the previous 25 years since the proclamation of the IDPD, we must continue to actively advocate for a barrier free environment that is inclusive of and accessible to all persons. GAATES will be actively engaged in the World Urban Forum 9, this February in Kuala Lumpur and would like to invite all stakeholders to participate with us, whether physically or virtually, in advocating for inclusive and accessible “Cities for All”.
Logo from promotion of the World Urban Forum 9.
For more information on GAATES’ engagements at the World Urban Forum, the DIAUD Network, IASC TT, GAATES’ Country Representative Program or GAATES’ ICAC-BE Program, please contact Federico Batista Poitier at: federico.poitier@gaates.org

 

Young school students painted to create awareness about accessibility

NEW DELHI: More than 1200 Students of different schools of Delhi participated together to paint on the theme of Accessibility to raise awareness for a cause which although of ‘Universal’ importance escapes the public consciousness. It is with this thought that the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities organized a Drawing and Painting Competition at the National Bal Bhawan for school students including Students with Disabilities on the theme of “Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities” on Thursday (2nd November 2017).

participantsThe school students in three categories i.e. Junior, Middle and Senior participated in the competition. The topics of the competition were provided level wise ; Junior level- ‘Accessible Playgrounds and Parks’ & ‘Accessible Sports for PwDs’, for Middle level-  ‘Accessible Buildings, Tourist Places, Monuments, Pilgrimage sites’ and for Senior level- ‘Accessible Public Transport’ and ‘Accessible Technologies for Persons with Disabilities’.

The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities is running the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) for creating universal accessibility in the built environment, public transportation and Information & Communication Technology eco-system. The Campaign was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 3rd December 2015 on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Hon’ble Prime Minister had desired that the campaign is made a mass movement by involving citizens and sensitizing the society towards disability and the need for accessibility.  In continuation to various sensitization campaigns run by the DEPwD, “drawing and painting competition” was the latest chapter in the efforts to reach out to the young minds.

Welcoming all the students, Ms Dolly Chaktrabarty, Joint Secretary, DEPwD, inaugurated the competition, and said that “the art is a powerful medium to create mass awareness”. Through this competition, Ms Chakrabarty emphasized, awareness about the importance of accessibility and the challenges faced by Divyangjans in daily life.

Students were seeded with the concept of accessibility and were encouraged to put their ideas and thoughts through drawing. In the background music, the soundtrack of Bollywood movie ‘Taare Zameen Par’ was being played and the atmosphere filled with the joy and enthusiasm; while the children coloured their thoughts and messages on papers.

The jury members for selecting the award were Mr Soumen Bhowmick, Ms Sunita Lamba, Vijay Kiyawat, Santosh Kumar Sahni and Shri Hemant Singh. The jury panel carefully scrutinized the paintings and submitted the results to the Department. The winners of this competition and will be awarded cash prize and a certificate in a felicitation event to be held at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, Delhi on the occasion of Children’s Day on 14th November 2017.