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

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.

Importance of Empowering Persons with Disabilities Highlighted from the View of Film-makers, Creativity for Accessibility

NEW DELHI: The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) organized an award function of Short Film Competition on Divyangjan Sashaktikaran in association with Directoriate of Film Festival (DFF) on Thursday.

group photo Total 10 awards were given in three categories of Documentaries, Short Films and TV Spots. The Chief Guest of the program, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot presented the awardees with certificate and mementos in a glittering ceremony, held at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi.

Delivering the key note address Union Minister, Sh. Thaawarchand Gehlot said that in last three years the Ministry is focusing on various schemes for empowerment of persons with disabilities.

Highlighting achievements of Department during the last three years, he said that more than 5700 camps undr ADIP schemes have been organised distributing aids and assistive devices which benefitted more than 8 lakh Persons with Disabilities for their physical empowerment.

Enumerating various achievements of the Department, he said that the Ministry is providing Rs 6 lakh per child for Cochlear Implant surgery to help hearing impaired children.

Emphasising on the need of awareness on accessibility, he said short films are powerful medium to spread the awareness among the common masses in today’s time when everybody is connected through various tools of media.

Expressing the importance of accessibility in built environment, Smt. G. Latha Krishna Rao, Secretary, DEPwD, said that we are becoming aware of infrastructural accessibility and now we should move forward to informational and communicational system inclusivity as well.

Smt. Dolly Chakravarty, Joint Secretary, DEPwD said that accessibility in the films by use of audio captioning and subtitling ensures universal accessibility in the entertainment domain. There is also the pressing need of the hour to ensure to portray disabled people as bold, courageous and empowered characters.

Lack of sensitivity and awareness in the society, has been the key challenge in all work being done in this sector. This formed the basis of DEPwD’s ‘Short film Competition on Divyangjan Shashaktikaran’, which was launched in July 2017 and was opened for submissions till August 2017. Astounding responses were received from all over the country.

Entries in the categories of Short Films, Documentaries and T.V. Spots were invited to be developed in the line of vision and benefits of Accessible India Campaign as well as benefits of the skilling, funding and encouraging Persons with Disabilities. Eminent personalities from film and media, Ms. Aparna Sanyal, Mr. Krishnendu Bose, Mr. Nila Madhab Panda and Mr. Balakishnan Diwaker, were part of the jury scrutinizing the entries to draw out the best, which most aptly described the themes and connected the most with the audience. Also Mr. K.V.S. Rao represented the department in the panel of judges.

The award for Best Short Film was given to Suyash Shinde for Azan, Abhay Punjabi for Achala, Amit Sonkar for Tum Main aur Hum Sab and Films Division for I know Sign Language. Narendra Joshi’s Sugamaya Bharat and Jyotsna Puthran’s Zebra Crossing bagged the first position in the categories of Documentary and T.V. Spot, respectively. In the category of Short Films, the Films Division’s creations Abhinaya and Diler, Arunima Sinha received awards of special mention. In the T.V.Spot section This is Me by Social Access received the second position and DOT by Jyotsna Puthran received special mention.

In the program, the Students with Disabilities from Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) presented the National Anthem in sign language. This was followed by a mesmerizing fusion dance performance by the Students with Disabilities from A.L.P.A.N.A. Thereafter, a Ghoomar dance performance by children with disabilities from Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust, left the audience spell bound.  At the end of the event, full length films of the award winners were also showcased.

Collaboration in Preparation for the World Urban Forum

On November 1, 2017, the DIAUD Network held another successful meeting in preparation for the 9th  World Urban Forum (WUF9), which will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia next February.  Members provided information about their planned representation and contributions at the Forum and were also able to collaborate in planning logistics for various events and meetings that will be taking place. The discussion was led by Federico Batista Poitier, Executive Assistant to the President and Communications Coordinator for Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) outlining the side events under consideration by GAATES and World Enabled for WUF9.

World Urban Forum, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaIn 2007, GAATES was developed as an international consortium dedicated to promoting accessibility worldwide.  Today, it is a leading international organization dedicated to the promotion of accessibility of the built and virtual environments, and to promoting the Guiding Principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  GAATES’ global network includes expert members in disaster risk reduction and preparedness, information and communication technologies, urban development, and the built environment.  The alliance allows for collaborative partnerships, between a wide range of stakeholders, to implement universal design principles in creating inclusive and sustainable environments.

Appropriately, GAATES’ members have been actively planning for the upcoming World Urban Forum.  Mr. Batista Poitier first introduced the event types that participants can host, and the application processes.  He clarified that side events are focused on the organizer, their area of focus related to urban development, and the speakers they choose to highlight.  Networking events, on the other hand, are more focused on the goal of partnerships in a specific area. Training events are focused on a specific and deployable skill, and on engaging participants which would find the skill applicable to their work.  Mr. Batista Poitier informed members of the requirements necessary for each event type, and highlighted how each event should contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Forum’s theme, Cities for All.

Also presented were some of the events which GAATES is currently developing for WUF including:

  • an art exhibit related to inclusion in cities,
  • an event with network colleague,Sozialhelden, which will be a networking event where Wheelmap could promote their new white label product to organizations or cities, but with the potential to also train participants through a live mapping of the Forum,
  • an exhibit, featuring the braille and audio versions of the New Urban Agenda. This event would not only present the new versions, but would advocate for their necessity in all fields by engaging with persons without disabilities.
  • an event which would highlight the use of digital technology for inclusion in smart cities,
  • an event focused on displacement in urban centers and inclusive humanitarian action.

To follow up on the engaged discussion during the meeting, Mr. Batista Poitier is planning meetings with members interested in participating on the development of these events.  He encouraged any DIAUD member who wished to be further involved with planning to contact him: federico.poitier@gaates.org

The DIAUD Network’s next meeting will take place on Wednesday November 15th, 2017 at 9:00am EST.  This meeting will feature a overview of the Country Representative and Certification programs available at GAATES presented by Tracey Shipman, Program Director.  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

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: federico.poitier@gaates.org, jimesan@yahoo.com

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 :

Federico.poiter@gaates.org

jimesan@yahoo.com

 

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.

 

 

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.