LONG BATTLE The five-year initiative would involve retrofitting buildings, framing accessibility standards for new buildings and transport and auditing private companies
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch his government’s campaign to provide access to differently-abled people, Accessible India, on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The campaign would involve making transport, public space, tourist places, international airports, railway stations and information and communication technology in India differently-able friendly.
The five-year initiative would involve retrofitting buildings, framing accessibility standards for new buildings and transport, auditing private companies on `accessibility index’ and making all government websites accessible to the differently-abled. Accessibility index’ would rate a firm ` on how differently-able friendly its buildings and HR policies are and will be unveiled by the PM.
The department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, the nodal department under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, intends to follow a target-based approach by setting timelines for different activities. Over the next seven months, the department would initiate an audit of different government buildings all over India to gauge how they can be retrofitted to make them accessible to the differently-abled. By July, 75 railway stations and 27 international airports and about 5,000 public buildings would be retrofitted to make them accessible.
Another major initiative would be to make all government websites W3C complaint. This would mean that all websites would have a text to-speech feature which would make them accessible to the visually impaired. Joint secretary Mukesh Jain, who spearheads the Accessible India campaign in the department, told ET, “There are several features that need to be built in ike the contrast of background and text which would make the website accessible to a person with low vision. Making the websites conform to W3C standards is not a difficult task. We would begin with websites that have a large public interface, like a municipal corporation and passport office websites. “
The department is in the process of framing accessibility standards for buildings. “These can be adopted in all central government buildings. We would also recommend them to states,“ said Jain.
Enact The New Law On Disability
The disabled-friendly initiatives launched by the government as part of the Accessible India campaign are laudable. Physical infrastructure including office buildings and public transport should be made accessible to them. Companies which hire the differently abled should be rewarded too. Also, the government should quickly ensure the passage of the new law that guarantees the rights of disabled people, considering that nearly eight years have passed since India ratified the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. Bipartisan support is called for on this law.
Ref: The Economic Times (Mumbai)