D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The Core Groups on Access, Communication and Information Technology and Health met in New Delhi on July 22 and 23.
Shivani Gupta, Director, AccessAbility and Convenor, Core Group on Access presented the proposed revisions on access guidelines in the National Building Code, drafted in collaboration with N.C.P.E.D.P.
It was decided that the guidelines needed to be circulated to the whole sector and also to international experts.
The group was unanimous on the idea of an exclusive workshop on accessibility in railways.
The members showed concern on the lack of access in new infrastructure as well. “Even the new Bangalore and Hyderabad airports are not totally disabled friendly. If we do not get our act together now, we will be stuck with such inaccessible infrastructure for years to come,” said Gupta.
It was decided that access audits of a few public places in Delhi will be done and a P.I.L. would be then filed against those buildings which are found flouting the accessibility guidelines required by U.N.C.R.P.D. to which India is a signatory.
The launch of Ronald Mace Award for Universal Design was also announced in the meeting.
In what could be seen as a positive sign, Dr Govind and Dr. S.K. Agarwal from the Ministry of Information Technology attended the meeting of the Core Group on Communication and Information Technology. Shilpi Kapoor, Director, BarrierBreak Technology presented the draft National Policy on Electronic Accessibility, drafted in collaboration with N.C.P.E.D.P. The policy incorporates accessibility for both websites and any electronic user interface like A.T.M.s.
The Ministry officials were positive about the draft and it was decided that a summarized copy of the draft would be sent to the Ministry immediately for review.
The Core Group also discussed issues like online examinations and online study material. It was decided to write to N.C.E.R.T. and the Ministry of Human Resource Development about it.
It was the first meeting for the Core Group on Health and was attended by Dr. H.D. Goyal, Additional Director General, Health Services and Dr. P.L. Joshi, Deputy Director General, Health Services from the Ministry of Health. The main agenda of the meeting was to discuss easy and time bound access to disability certificate.
The Ministry officials assured the members that they are working on ensuring that disability certificates are provided within 15 days from the time of application. Also disability certificates would now be given at the P.H.C. level for people with 100 percent visual impairment or severe orthopaedic disability. The Core Group, however, is working on the possibility of disability certificate being made available to a disabled person at his or her door step.
“We want the disability certificate to be made available at the doorstep like the passport. The onus of verifying whatever information and then giving the certificate should be with the government,” said Javed Abidi, Convenor, N.C.R.P.D. - India.
“Another significant development is that now there is no need to submit a full length photograph anymore. A passport size photograph would suffice while applying for the disability certificate,” added Radhika Alkazi, Managing Trustee and Director, A.S.T.H.A. and Convenor, Core Group on Health.
It may be mentioned that N.C.P.E.D.P. has launched a three year project -“Mainstreaming of Disability in the National Agenda - Policy to Practice” in partnership with the British High Commission to focus on 5 key issues - health, employment, accessibility, information technology and rural development.