BHUBANESWAR: As the public infrastructure in the State is not accessible for the disabled, Samarthyam, a Delhi-based organisation, is collaborating with the State Government to promote universal accessibility.
A two-day State-level workshop on promoting accessibility for all was organised by Office of the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities. “The society is not yet aware of the needs of the differently abled. This mindset needs to change,” said Samarthyam executive director Anjlee Agarwal.
The participants of the workshop were engineers, architects and building planners. It aimed at training them about the technicalities of constructing barrier- free buildings. Most of them are aware of the acts and laws, but not their implementation. The workshop was organised to fill that gap. Anjlee has visited Angul and Dhenkanal where she found that the accessibility was dismal.
Even though footpaths were there, no curb ramps could be found. The angle of the ramps, proper sign for the visually impaired, toilets specifically designed for the disabled are commonly ignored.
The universal design takes into consideration the plight of all. There is a Disability Act, 1995, in place that deals extensively with the issue.
There are monitoring officers who look into the implementation of the Act. If a building does not satisfy the criteria, a no completion certificate can be issued. The building is then deemed unfit for staying purpose. Occupation of the building without a completion certificate is illegal.
Based on the reports of the monitoring officers, an old building is refurbished or a new one is built accordingly. Through the training, the engineers, planners and architects will be better positioned to incorporate accessibility factors into the design of the building. “Since we are still in a nascent stage, we are on the process of monitoring and auditing the existing buildings and infrastructure,” said State Commissioner for Persons With Disabilities Kasturi Mohapatra.
It is not just the disabled who need accessible infrastructures. Pregnant women, children and old people require these facilities.
During the workshop, the participants were made to go through an exercise where they had to use a wheelchair to feel the experience of a disabled. On the second day of the workshop, they will be trained on how to audit the buildings and monitor them.