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Physical Infrastructure Accessibility Standards for India
For the estimated 70 million disabled people in India, having an accessible environment is still a neglected issue. Universal Design is a commitment to provide disabled-friendly products and environments. However, many of our disabled people are still confined to their homes, as attempts to enter parks, buildings, or to be able to travel, etc remain a far cry. Barrier-free environment is a legal right of disabled people and it is important to bring attitudinal changes among policy makers in Government, and among architects, design professionals, manufacturers, etc. In this write-up for D.N.I.S., Director of AccessAbility, Shivani Gupta, shares her experiences.
Most of us – people with disabilities – very often visit ‘accessible’ spaces only to find them being designed in a way that in spite of being signposted as ‘accessible’, they are unusable or can be used only with tremendous effort and difficulty. Worse is that there is no way we can complain about poor design of accessible facilities because there are no Standards for infrastructural accessibility that have been adopted by our country. This leaves the designers and planners to design based on innumerable guidance available online that may or may not be the best for us.
The three accessibility guidelines brought out by various Ministries include the C.P.W.D. design guidelines published by the Ministry of Urban Development, ‘Planning a Barrier Free Environment’ published by the Office of the Chief Commissioner, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Accessibility chapter in the National Building Code by the Bureau of Indian Standards. According to a survey undertaken by AccessAbility, only 11% of architects were aware and used either of these to get information about accessible design. Most relied on the internet for information. This is so because all of these are guidances and none are mandated in India.
With this background, a welcome step taken by the Ministry of Urban Development (M.U.D.) is the effort to harmonize the three above mentioned documents and update them to the latest design requirements as per international standards. Having Accessibility Standards that are adopted and are applicable to the entire nation is the first step for ensuring appropriate and uniform accessibility throughout.
To read the full article, visit the site: http://www.dnis.org/features.php?issue_id=4&volume_id=8&features_id=182