Feature

Volume 7 Issue 10 - May 15, 2010

‘The N.C.P.E.D.P. - MphasiS Universal Design Awards’

The N.C.P.E.D.P. - Mphasis Universal Design Awards

National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) in association with AccessAbility and BarrierBreak Technologies and with support from MphasiS, an H.P. Company has instituted the ‘The N.C.P.E.D.P.-MphasiS Universal Design Awards’. Currently, nominations for the awards are being invited. This is an annual award and will be given away on August 14, the eve of our Independence Day. Access symbolizes the true spirit of freedom as far as persons with disabilities are concerned.

The awards will be given away to those who have been doing exemplary work towards the cause of accessibility and thus ensuring a life of equality and dignity for disabled people. The awards will cover accessibility in the following fields:

  1. Built Environment

  2. Transport

  3. Information and Communication

  4. Technology

  5. Services

  6. Aids and Appliances

The awards will be given in 3 categories: Persons with disabilities, Working Professionals and Companies/Organisations.

Last date for sending nominations is July 20, 2010.

Conservative estimates put the population of persons with disability in India at 70 million. Yet, it is only a minuscule percentage of the population that has been seen in the mainstream of any aspect of life in the country; be it the workforce, education or anything else. Any study undertaken to determine the reason for this would point to one direction and that would be the lack of access.

A cursory study of history too would reveal that all great movements arose from the very lack of access to basic facilities, discrimination and the fight for one’s dignity and belief that all humans are equal and born free. The disability rights movement advocates equal access for people with disability to social, political, and economic life which includes not only physical access but access to the same tools, services, organisations and facilities which we all pay for.

Over the years, Accessibility

  • has come to occupy the most identifiable cause that has unified the global approach towards disability – across social, political and economic lives of disabled people.

  • has become the most fundamental cause that any disabled person identifies with, irrespective of the disability.

  • has become the fulcrum to the disability rights movement globally.

Accessibility not only means access to physical spaces but also means access to information, technology, transport, services, aids and appliances, etc. For example, only 0.05% of printed books are available in accessible formats to print impaired people! Only a handful of Indian websites are accessible to people with disabilities!! And, most television programming is not accessible to hearing impaired people in India!!! These are just a few examples.

Access, therefore, is an issue that cuts across disabilities and sectors and forms the very basis of empowerment of disabled people. A concept that is intrinsic to any kind of access is ‘Universal Design’, which means a design that is usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or situation. This could mean the built environment, technology, transport, and so on. Universal design accommodates people with disabilities, older people, children, and others who are non-average in a way that is not stigmatising and benefits all users. The seven Principles that describe characteristics that make designs universally usable are:

  1. Equitable Use

  2. Flexibility in Use

  3. Simple and Intuitive Use

  4. Perceptible Information

  5. Tolerance for Error

  6. Low Physical Effort

  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

Though this approach benefits older people and people with disabilities most of the time, Universal Design benefits every human being to some degree at some point of time. Universal Design has attained major ground in the developed nations, but in developing countries like India, this concept is yet to attain popularity. In fact, awareness on Universal Design is close to none and there have been very few attempts to educate architects, designers and others about this.

In order to spread awareness on Universal Design and to popularise this concept, N.C.P.E.D.P., in association with AccessAbility and BarrierBreak Technologies, has instituted The N.C.P.E.D.P. - Mphasis Universal Design Awards. These awards will be given away every year to those who have been doing exemplary work towards the cause of accessibility and thus ensuring a life of equality and dignity for disabled people. The awards will cover accessibility in the following fields:

  1. Built Environment

  2. Transport

  3. Information and Communication Technology

  4. Services

  5. Aids and Appliances

We are confident that in time, these Awards will gain tremendous recognition and credibility and will encourage more and more people to work in the field of promoting access and Universal Design.

The awards will be given under three categories:

  • CATEGORY A: PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES - Awards in this category will be given to people with disabilities who have created an impact in accessibility and Universal Design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (I.C.T.), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology in their personal/professional capacity.

  • The work that the person has done can be in policy framework, grass-root level implementation, design and development, access audits, or even the rights movement/advocacy.

    Every year, this award will be given out to 3 people across the country.

  • CATEGORY B: WORKING PROFESSIONALS - Awards in this category will be given to people who work for the cause of accessibility and Universal Design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (I.C.T.), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology.

  • She/he may be an employee of an education institute / N.G.O. / corporate / government body that has taken up the cause, or may be a consultant or freelancer who has devoted her/his time for the cause. Her/his individual contribution to the cause is a major reason for the success achieved by the organisation/firm/movement. She/he may also be an individual who is involved in the cause independent of any organisational support and has achieved significant success in the core objective of gaining accessibility for disabled people.

    Awards in this category will be given out to ensure that many dedicated people who have involved themselves in the cause get due recognition. This will not only help in sensitising the rest of the non-disabled community, but will also encourage young minds to join the cause as a career option.

    Every year, this award will be given out to 3 people across the country.

  • CATEGORY C: COMPANIES/ ORGANISATIONS - Awards in this category will be given to those companies or organisations who have taken up the cause of accessibility and Universal Design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (I.C.T.), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology.

  • Companies/ organisations that have implemented either/ all of these within their organisations, which has led to them to recruiting or serving people with disabilities and providing them equal opportunities to participate to the best of their abilities. These companies/organisations can be a role model for the rest of the society, and recognizing their efforts and giving them the encouragement will help the cause to reach out to many more.

    These can be any type of an education institute / N.G.O. / corporate / government body - private sector, public sector, joint sector, S.M.E. or even proprietorship/partnership firms. The selection criteria will not only be for adopting accessibility policies, but also for implementing them at the workplace.

    Every year, this award will be given out to 4 companies/ organisations across the country.

    Access symbolizes the true spirit of freedom as far as persons with disabilities are concerned. These awards would therefore be given away on 14th August, the eve of our Independence.

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