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N.C.P.E.D.P Launches National Campaign for Barrier-Free India

D.N.I.S. News Network - As India celebrate its 58th year of Independence, an estimated six crore citizens with disabilities are still fighting for the right to exercise their “freedom” by the way of access.

People with disabilities continue to be virtual prisoners restricted to their homes, unable to avail educational and employment opportunities due to lack of access in buildings, transport and built-environment.

This year also marks a decade of disappointment and failure, as there has hardly been any progress on providing a barrier free environment promised in the Disability Act, 1995.

Keeping this in mind, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) has decided to launch a yearlong National Campaign for a Barrier Free India to commemorate the Indian Independence Day on 15th August 2005.

Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit will inaugurate the campaign and will be urged to make Delhi a model city in terms of accessibility. The campaign will be scaled at the national level through the National Disability Network (N.D.N), covering all the States & Union Territories of India.

To formally mark the launch of the National Campaign, the Delhi Chief Minister will unveil a logo and a blueprint for a barrier-free India.

N.C.P.E.D.P.’s yearlong campaign will focus on creating awareness and achieving changes at the policy level. It will advocate implementation of the agenda of access, in Building Bye-laws, Master Plans, Urban Renewal Plans, Transport Policy etc. and ensure that the issue is prominently addressed in the Union and Railway budgets.

Disability audits will be conducted on new constructions and mass transportation system, and on a priority basis a demand will be raised to make bus transport disabled-friendly in the five metros. In a release, N.C.P.E.D.P. said it would ensure that its perspectives vis-à-vis access is included in the National Disability Policy and in the Amendment Bill (Disability Act).

N.C.P.E.D.P cited the example of its National Campaign on Inclusive Education launched last year on 15th August. The campaign resulted in wide sweeping changes at the policy level with Human Resource Development Minister Shri Arjun Singh tabling the ‘Comprehensive Plan of Action for Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Disabilities’ in Parliament.

Logo for the National Campaign for Barrier-Free India

Picture of logo of National Campaign for Barrier Free India

BLUEPRINT FOR A BARRIER-FREE INDIA

For a Barrier-Free India that respects diversity of people with disabilities to ensure their full and equal participation in the task of nation building, we recommend:

1. For Built Environment:

* Include disability in all Building Bye-laws of all the States and Union Territories.

* Issue an Ordinance for making all new and existing buildings disabled friendly in a phased and time-bound manner.

* Remove barriers that impede physical access in public areas, including roads, sidewalks etc.

* Make housing facilities barrier-free.

* Involve disability experts at all levels of design and implementation of Master Plans, Renewal Plans etc. for urban and rural infrastructure development.

2. For Public Transport:

* Employ available disabled friendly buses on certain key routes in Delhi and replicate the same on other routes and in other cities in a time-bound manner.

* Enforce strict norms for private transport operators and manufacturers vis-à-vis barrier free access.

* Ensure unhindered mobility by making buses, trains and aircrafts disabled-friendly.

* Make transport infrastructure - airports, railway stations and all bus stands fully accessible in a phased and time-bound manner.

3. For Information:

* Make information and education easily available in accessible format to all people with disabilities viz Braille, computer-aided technology, sign-language, etc.

* Generate awareness and sensitise policy makers, public and private authorities, officials responsible for providing services and assistance to the disabled consumers.

4. For Assistive Technology:

* Make quality assistive devices available and affordable in India through subsidies, incentives and insurance.

* Encourage manufacturers to produce assistive devices suitable to local conditions/environment.