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.


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.

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.


Ensuring Accessibility: Lessons from the BRT in Mexico

The reliance on public transportation for the 81.2 million inhabitants concentrated in Mexico’s urban centers is estimated at approximately eighty-percent of their urban transit needs. Although the majority of urban inhabitants are dependent on public transportation, many of the features of these transport systems have been described as non-inclusive and inaccessible.

Accessible Bus

Responding to the lack of implementation of accessibility standards of public transport, El Poder del Consumidor commissioned a study to assess the accessibility of the BRT systems, which when well-regulated, is a preferred system of transport for the public; especially for persons with disabilities and those with limited mobility. The Accessibility Assessment of the Bus Rapid Transit Systems in Mexico study was carried out in eight different states in Mexico and the findings demonstrated the overall status of the accessibility features present in sixteen existing corridors of nine BRT systems.

The report highlights how the lack of implementation of accessibility features is attributed to the non-compliance of Mexican public transport systems, particularly the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, to current national and international technical standards on barrier-free accessible services.

From these 16 corridors studied, a ranking was created and based on the following five domains of accessibility:

  • Interior features at the station
  • Connectivity of the station to public space
  • Operational features relative to service
  • Interior features of the vehicles
  • Connection for intermodal transfer facilities

The final results from this study confirmed that none of the BRT systems in Mexico are fully accessible and the authors called upon competent parties to address key areas including:

  • Addressing omissions and risks quickly and appropriately
  • Creating a regulatory framework towards procurement of accessible design for future BRT systems
  • Increasing public participation through focus groups and expert advisory committees
  • Elaborating accessibility standards for the BRT systems
  • Creating conditions for federal funding, which depend on the inclusion of established accessibility standards.

In response to the findings of this transit study, a second phase is currently in development and will provide further details on accessibility features from the five domain areas of accessibility in the BRT vehicles, as noted above. Following these details, an assessment will be done on those parties responsible for governance or public administration towards accessible services and to evaluate the actions (if any) that were taken to improve the accessibility of the sample systems from the initial study.

GAATES Country Representative profile:

The content and photos for this article were provided by Ms Janett Jimenez-Santos, who also developed the accessibility indicators that were utilized for the transit study. Ms. Jimenez-Santos is an architect and a Country Representative of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) based in Mexico. She has experience at both the national and international level on accessibility of the built environment, public spaces, and public transport.

If you would like further information regarding this project, the second phase of work, or Ms Janett Jimenez-Santos, please contact:,

French Version

Assurer l’accessibilité : les Leçons du Mexique

Le recours aux transports en commun des 81.2 millions d’habitants concentrés aux centres urbains du Mexique est estimé comme composant environ quatre-vingt pour cent des besoins des transports en commun urbains. Alors que la majorité d’habitants urbains dépendent des transports en commun, la plupart des caractéristiques de ces systèmes de transport ont été décrit comme non-inclusifs et inaccessibles.

Pour adresser le manque de mise en œuvre de normes pour les transports en commun, El Poder del Consumidor a commissionné une étude pour évaluer l’accessibilité du BRT, qui, quand bien-régulé, est le système préféré par le public ; surtout pour les personnes handicapées et ceux avec une mobilité limitée. L’étude, Accessibility Assesment of Bus Rapid Systems in Mexico,  a été effectuée dans huit états différents au Mexique et les données ont illustré la situation globale des caractéristiques d’accessibilité présentes dans seize couloirs existants de neuf systèmes BRT.

Le rapport souligne aussi que le manque de mise en œuvre d’aspects d’accessibilité est attribué à la non-adhérence de systèmes de transport en commun – surtout les couloirs de Transports Rapides par Autobus – aux normes techniques pour les systèmes exempts d’obstacles.

A partir des 16 couloirs étudiés, un classement a été créé en fonction des cinq domaines suivants d’accessibilité :

  • Les caractéristiques intérieures à la station
  • La connectivité de la station à l’espace public
  • Les caractéristiques opérationnelles relatives au service
  • Les caractéristiques à intérieure des automobiles
  • La connexion pour le transfert intermodal des facilités

Les résultats finaux de cette étude ont confirmé qu’aucun des systèmes BRT au Mexique est entièrement accessible. Par la suite, les auteurs ont recommandé que les parties compétentes s’adressent aux domaines clés qui incluent :

  • Agir pour adresser les omissions et les risques, de manière rapide et convenable
  • Créer un cadre régulateur pour procurer la conception accessible de futurs systèmes BRT
  • Augmenter la participation du publique
  • Élaborer les normes d’accessibilité pour les systèmes BRT
  • Créer des conditions pour les fonds fédéraux qui dépendent de l’inclusion de normes établies d’accessibilité

Suivant les résultats de cette étude, une seconde phase est en cours de développement et nous donnera plus de détails sur les caractéristiques d’accessibilité des cinq domaines d’accessibilité (soulignés auparavant dans cet article) dans les véhicules BRT. Suivant ces détails, une analyse sera faite sur les parties responsable pour la gouvernance ou l’administration publique envers les services accessibles, et évaluer les actions (si nécessaires) qui ont été prises pour améliorer l’accessibilité des systèmes exemplaires de l’étude initiale.

Profil du GAATES Représentante du Pays

Le contenu et les photos de cet article ont été fournis par Mlle Janet Jimenez-Santos, qui a aussi développé les indicateurs d’accessibilité qui ont été utilisés pour cette étude. Mlle Jimenez-Santos est une architecte et une représentante de pays pour la Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environnements basée au Mexique. Elle a de l’expérience au niveau national ainsi qu’international concernant l’accessibilité de l’environnement construit, l’espace public, et les transports en commun.

Si vous souhaitez davantage d’information concernant ce projet, la seconde phase de l’étude, ou Mlle Janet Jimenez-Santos, veuillez contacter :


GAATES paving the way for an accessible Dubai

In 2016 the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) was selected as the world’s leading experts in accessibility of the built environment and transportation by the Emirate of Dubai.

Dubai Universal Accessibility and Action Plan Coverpage

GAATES, a Canadian based NGO, assembled an international team of over 25 accessibility experts to implement a universally designed city in preparation for the world exposition ‘Expo 2020: Creating Minds, Creating the Future’.

The Emirate of Dubai made a landmark move by affirming to convert itself into a fully accessible city adopting the sub-themes of Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity.

Dubai is a global centre of trade and tourism in the United Arab Emirates with over three and a half million people. It is the world’s busiest international passenger transportation hub and the home of the world’s most dynamic architecture.

The United Arab Emirates have embraced the spirit of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which the Emirates ratified in 2010.  GAATES worked in tandem with Dubai Executive Council. GAATES has wide experience working in the Middle East and understands cultural and climatic nuances of the region.

The project began with the auditing of existing conditions and interviews with key Emirati personnel responsible for the design of transportation services and those responsible for the design of the built environment, public rights of way and parks.

This was followed by the analysis of the most progressive accessibility codes and standards around the world and the development of the Dubai Universal Design Code for built environments, public rights of way and transportation. The Code lays out rules which mandate all new public spaces to follow the code and ensure accessibility. Concurrently, older buildings must now be retrofitted accordingly to fulfil the requirements as laid out in the code.

The drafting of legal requirements, an implementation strategy and training of key personnel completed the GAATES project.  The government of Dubai has now launched their accessibility initiative and implementation is underway.

Buildings and services such as shopping malls, educational institutes, galleries and museums, airports, mosques and health services are included in this program. Through this project, Dubai aims to create a positive impact on everyone’s lives and not just persons with disabilities.

It is expected that the Expo will attract over 25 million visitors, many of which will be people with disabilities and older persons.




Mukhtar Al Shibani, Advisor –

mukhtaar's Image

Mr. Mukhtar Al Shibani established Almodon Consulting office for the disabled and elderly people in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to provide services in architectural design in the Arab Region. Mr. Al Shibani is currently the President of Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), and is a member of the ISO Committee TC59/SC16 Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment.
He has served on the Board of Directors of the Saudi Umran society, was a Member of the Saudi national consulting committee for setting the national assembly for disabled, and a Member of the consulting committee, Prince Salman Research Center for the Disabled.

Aqeel Qureshi, Editor –


Aqeel Qureshi is the Founder and CEO of Techbility, a company that specializes in accessible website development, web applications, documents, research and mobile applications. He is an editor of the Global Accessibility News (GAN) which has more than 30,000 subscribers globally.
Aqeel is an internationally recognized accessibility expert who has been working on the Universal Design of web accessibility, information and communications technology (ICT) and disaster risk reduction. He has more than 17 years in the accessibility field and brings the experience, knowledge and passion needed to help organizations and digital agencies make a difference to persons with disabilities by complying with accessibility guidelines and standards. As a disability rights campaigner, he has actively advocated for the rights of persons with disabilities.

Marnie Peters, Acting Executive Director –


Marnie Peters has been working with the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) as an Executive Officer to the President since 2002. Marnie has been working in the accessibility field since 1998, as an associate to internationally recognized accessibility expert, Betty Dion. Marnie is an expert in conducting accessibility audits, the review of construction drawings and the development of recommendations for the reconstruction of facilities to ensure accessible environments. She has assisted in the development of databases and conducted research on the application and technical requirements of Canadian and International building codes and accessibility standards for multiple projects. She was the lead researcher and an assistant to the editor of the seminal document, International Best Practices in Universal Design: A Global Review.

Products and services to be made more accessible for persons with disabilities in EU

Key products and services, like phones, e-book readers, operating systems and payment terminals, will have to be made more accessible to people with disabilities, under draft EU rules amended in committee on Tuesday.

A customer using the Co-operative Bank's new talking ATM machines. (Photo credit: Co-operative Bank)

A customer using the Co-operative Bank’s new talking ATM machines. (Photo credit: Co-operative Bank)

The Internal Market Committee amended and approved the rules, which would apply only to products and services placed on the EU market after the directive takes effect, by 20 votes in favour, none against and 17 abstentions.

Internal Market Committee rapporteur, Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE, DK), said: “Accessibility is a precondition for persons living with disabilities to enjoy equal participation and therefore to play an active role in society. To this end, it is vital to ensure smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. With greater accessibility for people with disabilities, we get a stronger Europe, which is not just a goal for politicians but also for businesses, which the European Accessibility Act will encourage to innovate with more accessible products and services.”

Daily lives made easier

There are around 80 million disabled persons in the EU, a figure that is expected to rise to 120 million by 2020. The proposed “European Accessibility Act” (EAA) would enable them to benefit from more accessible products and services. The draft directive sets out accessibility requirements for a list including ATMs, ticketing and check-in machines, PCs and operating systems, phones and TV equipment, consumer banking services, e-books, transport and e-commerce. MEPs added other items to the list, such as all payment terminals, e-book readers and websites and mobile device-based services of audio-visual media.

The accessibility requirements would also cover the “built environment” where the service is provided, including transport infrastructure (e.g. train stations), “as regards to the construction of new infrastructure or renovations with a substantial change of the structure of the existing building”, where member states do not already have requirements in place, the committee decided.

Room for innovation

MEPs agreed to base the requirements for accessibility on functionality, rather than on technical specifications. This means the EAA will say what needs to be accessible in terms of “functional performance requirements” but will not impose detailed technical solutions as to how to make it accessible, thus allowing for innovation.

All goods and services complying with the accessibility requirements would benefit from free circulation on the internal market.

Micro-enterprises excluded

Micro-enterprises (i.e. those employing fewer than 10 persons and whose annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet total does not exceed €2 million), would be exempted, due to their size, resources and nature.

The proposal also includes safeguard clauses to ensure that the EAA’s requirements do not create a “disproportionate burden” for economic operators. MEPs clarify that “lack of priority, time or knowledge” shall not be considered as legitimate reasons for claiming that a burden is disproportionate. They also stipulate that the EU Commission must adopt “delegated acts” specifying the criteria to be taken into account when assessing whether the burden is to be deemed disproportionate.

Next steps

EU ministers in the Council still need to agree a general approach on this file before Parliament’s negotiators can begin talks with them on the final shape of this legislation.


Indian government websites lack accessibility for persons with disabilities

NEW DELHI: Even as Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s pitch for “digital India” grows louder, top government websites lack accessibility for persons with disabilities. The government had in 2009 formulated a national policy for electronic accessibility; however, the websites could never become “user friendly” for all, irrespective of their ability.
Web Accessibility
Javed Abidi, director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), says for “Sugamya Bharat” to become a reality, there is a need to focus not just on accessibility of the built environment for people with physical disabilities but also on information accessibility for persons with vision and hearing disabilities.

“We, in India, have confused our understanding of accessibility limiting it only to the built environment. What about websites, apps, documents, television broadcasts, and the various other communication mediums and devices being used by us on a daily basis? Everyday there are several websites being developed, products being churned out, software and applications being designed, information being disseminated, services being provided but, all completely inaccessible barring only a few! Moving towards a digital economy with flagship programs like ‘Digital India’, shouldn’t making ICTs accessible be one of our major concerns?” he asked.

Formulated in 2009, the guidelines, experts say, have not been implemented in their letter and spirit. “The guidelines have to first be implemented completely, only then will it can make an impact. The government has to go beyond intent and work towards ensuring its implementation. Today, the government claims that there are few websites that are accessible but the irony is even the ministry’s website is not user friendly for persons with disabilities,” said Shilpi Kapoor, CEO, barrier break, a social enterprise that provides accessibility solutions and helped government in formulation of guidelines in 2009.

Ms Kapoor says that even after eights years of coming up with the guidelines, things haven’t changed on the ground.

“In our audit of accessible websites, we found huge gaps,” she said.

The Indian government, though, appears to be finally waking up to solve the problems of people with disabilities with the ministry for social justice and empowerment reworking on the guidelines again.

This website have to be designed using XHTML 1.0 transitional to meet these guidelines and also adheres to level A of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 laid down by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). “We are working on it, soon both government and private sector will have a legal obligation to make their websites accessible for the blind and visually impaired. We are in talks with the IT ministry and will come up with the rules soon, making it mandatory for all websites to ensure that their online content is accessible to people with vision disabilities,” said a senior official in the ministry.

“In our audit of “accessible” websites, we found huge gaps. Even as the government is pushing to go digital, the guidelines need to be adhered to. One cannot even reserve a train ticket through website, the situation is that ironical. The websites need to provide image description to people with vision disabilities. What if one cannot use mouse? The challenge is way beyond, even the PM’s speeches are not captioned,” she added.

Source: Asian Age

Program for Assistive Technology Conference Announced

RESNA’s 2017 ConferenceAT Innovations Across the Lifespan, will offer over 50 workshop presentations on best practices in assistive technology over three days, June 28, 29, and 30.

RESNA 2017: Annual Conference Banner

Workshop topics include:

  • Cognitive and Sensory Impairments
  • Computer Applications and Communications
  • Emerging Technology
  • International Appropriate Technology
  • Job & Environmental Accommodations, including Ergonomics
  • Public Policy and Advocacy
  • Seating and Mobility, including Complex Rehab Technology
  • Service Delivery and Outcomes

Pre-Conference Sessions: June 26 & 27

A separate fee is required for all pre-conference education sessions. The sessions are:

  • RESNA’s Fundamentals in Assistive Technology(Two-day course, June 26 & 27): RESNA’s Fundamentals course is for those new to the industry, as well as professionals who wish to broaden their knowledge base. This course provides an overview of numerous areas of assistive technology, using multiple case studies to illustrate principles of assistive technology provision. (1.4 CEUs)
  • IC#1 Full Day: Workflow automation: creating efficiencies for computer users with disabilities(0.75 CEUs): During this hands-on course, you will create software shortcuts to automate repetitive tasks. These shortcuts significantly increase productivity for anybody — but particularly for people with physical, sensory, motor, and learning disabilities. Topics: – Fundamentals of keyboard access to Windows. (Essential skills for computer access specialists.) – Macro Express and AutoHotkey. – Keyboard remapping, e.g., add a “Tab” key to the right side of the keyboard, or “Backspace” to the left side. – Software customization, e.g., add hotkeys and clickable objects to standard applications. – Super shortcuts: Workflow automation using all the techniques introduced in this course.
  • IC#2 Full Day: Becoming An Assistive Technology “Maker” – A Hands-on Fabrication Workshop*  (0.75 CEUs): The “Makers Movement” continues to gain moment nationally. Local, state and regional “maker spaces” are popping up across the country in order to fabricate device and products in a timely fashion. This workshop embraces rapid fabrication techniques using an assortments of sustainable and reusable materials for creation of assistive technology devices that can be used in multiple ways to maximize independence at home, work, school, and play. This hands-on fabrication workshop will discuss, demonstrate and provide participants with new tools, materials, and techniques for fabricating hundreds of assistive technology devices in minutes. In addition, participants will fabricate six different multiuse devices.
    *Required:Essential Supplies Fee $30
  • IC#3 Full Day: The essence of the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Package- Basic Level(0.75 CEUs): The International Society of Wheelchair Professionals developed a combined online and in-person training, the Hybrid Course, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Wheelchair Service Training Package – Basic Level. The purpose of the Hybrid is to decrease the cost of training and increase the number of people trained worldwide. The Hybrid was piloted in India, Mexico, Colombia, and the USA and proved to be an effective approach in increasing knowledge on basic wheelchair provision. This instructional course was designed to be suitable for pre-conferences and reach participants interested in updating their skills and knowledge according to the WHO guidelines.
  • IC#4 Full Day: An Advanced IC on Seating and Mobility TBA(0.75 CEUs): TBA
  • IC#5 Half Day Morning: The EADL Experience(0.375 CEUs): Electronic Aids to Daily Living (EADL) offer Patients  enhanced independence, quality of life, and safety. Unfortunately these systems can be expensive, involve a complex installation, and are not covered by insurance. For these reasons it can be difficult to trial and recommend the most appropriate EADL systems for Patients. This Instructional course will provide a detailed overview of traditional EADL systems and consumer electronic solutions. Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity for hands on setup and usage of various EADL systems related to specific case studies.
  • IC#6 Half Day Morning: Speech Recognition as AT for Writing: A Guide for K12 Education(0.375 CEUs): While the technological challenges of speech recognition (SR) have been overcome in the last ten years through the power of cloud computing, the pedagogical challenge of teaching K-12 students to use SR for writing has not been adequately addressed. A scaffolded teaching approach is needed. This intensive course unpacks SR through the lens of the AT process. Our motto is “You don’t know until you try it!” Consideration leads directly to 8 scaffolded steps for teaching SR to children. Assessment strategies are  embedded in each teaching step to document effectiveness. Implementation and progress monitoring strategies round out the AT process.
  • IC#7 Half Day Afternoon: Measurement Approaches and Tools for the Accessibility of the Built Environment(0.375 CEUs): Numerous assessments exist to measure accessibility of built environments, both residential and public. Comprehensive assessment is a complex process integrating how space is used along with design elements for optimal function. This instructional course provides a history of accessibility assessment, a review of current and developing assessments, and hands-on opportunities to trial current tools and preview state-of-the-science products designed for mobile devices. A group of experts in accessibility and universal design assessment will lead discussions around practical implications of inter-professional teams and collaborations with different stakeholders. Take home materials specifically designed for this course will be provided.
  • IC#8 Half Day Afternoon: Hands-On With 3D Design and Printing for Assistive Technology: Learn From 4 Expert Users in The Field(0.375 CEUs): This instructional course provides a hands-on introduction to 3D design & printing with examples from AT for ADLs, seating, toys and prosthetics. Low cost options for design software, 3D scanning and 3D printing will be discussed and  a large hands-on period will allow trialing of this technology. Attendees will be able to describe how 3D printing works, list use cases in ADL tech, seating, adaptive toys & prosthetics, justifications for using 3D printing and low cost ways to access 3D design & printing.


Universities to improve access for students with disabilities

SOUTH AFRICA: The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has invested a landmark R175.6 million in infrastructure to ensure students and staff with disabilities have improved access to university facilities including teaching and learning aids for students with disabilities .

Wheelchair user pushing himselfThe multi-million rand project follows a strategic decision three years ago to support all universities with funding to improve or expand facilities and infrastructure for students and staff with disabilities. The emphasis was to ensure uninhibited and open access to all facilities for students and staff with disabilities that’s not only limited to low lying facilities on the ground or first floors.

While the long-term aim is to provide universal access, a differentiated approach which includes creating barrier-free built environments, both inside buildings and externally in the open space system has been implemented.

This has also led to each university undertaking or planning to undertake a comprehensive and up-to-date disability audit which would inform campus master planning strategies.

Some of the upgrades at the country’s 22 universities have included improvements to areas such as lifts and walkways, general accessibility, assistive learning hardware, magnification of printed text, enhancement software, low vision aids, Braille embossers, computers, software, hardware and accessories.

The University of South Africa (UNISA) received the largest investment allocation estimated at R39 million. This was used towards restoring computer laboratories for students with disabilities and upgrading the institution’s Disability Study and Diagnosis Unit.

Currently, the department is finalising its radical disability policy. This policy, following wide consultation, will help guide the post-school education and training sector on how best to harness the skills of students with disabilities.

Revised National Building Code should bring down barriers for persons with disabilities

NEW DELHI: It struck a disparate note with the country’s 26.8 million persons with disabilities. On February 12, the very day the Indian cricket team was making us proud by winning the Blind World T20 title, a girl with disability was made to climb two dozen stairs to reach her seat in a government exam hall. Upset by the report, the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission has sought an explanation from the secretary of the state’s public service commission.

see caption

Reaching ATMs an uphill task for people with disabilities (Photo credit: TOI)

But the issue goes beyond asking an individual or organisation why they didn’t make requisite arrangements for candidates with disabilities taking an exam. Our built environment is notoriously inaccessible for persons with disabilities. Apart from the Delhi Metro, most forms of public transport haven’t been designed with persons with disabilities in mind. Social discrimination and lack of job opportunities are not the only battles India’s persons with disabilities fight on an everyday basis. Even before the demonetisation note ban, it was almost impossible for wheelchair users to draw money because most ATMs have staircases leading up to them. Leave aside displaying sensitivity for persons with disabilities in public places, most cinemas have no designated spaces for wheelchair users. Even in cities, the number of national monuments that have ramps is few. Even though India was the first major nation to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, most workplaces fail to provide a barrier-free environment.

It isn’t that our policy makers are deaf to the requirement for an accessible environment. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan (Accessible India Campaign) on World Disability Day amid much fanfare. The campaign entailed making at least 50% government buildings disabled friendly and the development of an index to measure the design of disabled-friendly buildings. But its implementation has been sluggish at best.

The Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act 2016 has been amended to include private firms in the definition of ‘establishments’ (that previously referred to just government bodies) which have to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with barrier-free access in buildings, transport systems and public infrastructure. Section 45 of the Act requires all public buildings to be made accessible within five years of notification of rules. The revised National Building Code of India should incorporate elements of universal design to bring down barriers for the disabled. Once the physical barriers for the disabled begin to go, prejudices against them will follow.

Source: Hindustan Times

Provide facilities for voters with disabilities at polling centres: High Court

NAGPUR, INDIA:  Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, on Thursday, directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to provide facilities like ramps and handrails at the polling centres for voters with disabilities, to enable them to exercise their franchisee.

A division bench comprising justice Bhushan Gavai and justice Indira Jain warned the SEC of stern action, if it failed to comply with its directives.

Earlier, the petitioner through counsel Anup Gilda pointed out that post offices failed to erect all these facilities on their premises despite court’s specific directives. The judges then adjourned the hearing till Friday, asking the centre to reply.

The court’s stern directives came while hearing PIL filed by NGO Indradhanu through president PN Andhare, who is himself disabled, and secretary Prakash Sohoni, praying for directives to the local authorities, including Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), to make efforts to implement by-laws, guidelines and measures to ensure a barrier-free built environment and non-discrimination in transport for people with disabilities and senior citizens.

During last hearing, the court had told assistant government pleader to take instructions on providing facilities at 37 buildings in the city, the proposal of which was already dispatched to the Government of India. The central government through counsel AM Joshi was asked to take instructions on progress regarding similar facilities at various post office buildings in the city.

Source: Times of India