HYDERABAD: Being able to move on one’s own is a great achievement for visually impaired people like me. I am a 20-plusser student in the city. Visiting a lot of places in a city like Hyderabad especially with a pool of people rushing all the time needs more than white cane mobility. It is highly impossible to move around such places without proper accessibility features in and around them. Being a visually impaired guy myself here’s my two cents of the accessibility off the places which I visit frequently in the twin cities.
Secunderabad Railway station
It is impossible to avoid travelling even if there are no facilities for the visually-impaired. Although I don’t expect high-end facilities, minimum accessibility features (which are typically one-time investment and can stay for a decade or so) like railings, ramps, tactile floors and sound indications at the ticket counters and washrooms will be of great help. However, sadly none of these are present at the Secunderabad Railway Station.
Even if it is there, perhaps a touchscreen kiosk or oral instructions at the entrance will help us identify these things. On the contrary, even traffic signal indicating sounds are also disabled and made road crossing even tougher for those like me. Having no proper bus stops is big trouble for us too. With people walking in random directions and buses almost touching the non-existent footpaths, it is always risky for people like me to go to the Secunderabad Railway Station.
Forum Sujana Mall – Kukatpally
I visit this mall regularly, of course only with someone escorting me. I cannot dream of going alone as it lacks proper accessibility features which enable visually impaired people to move around on their own. Having no tactile floors also disable our navigation inside the mall. However, the mall has a lot of youngsters – staff and visitors and they are polite and kind. They help me shop, eat and move around the mall. Also, I have a request. Can they include some games for visually impaired guys too in the gaming zone?
State Bank of India, Nizampet
I must confess that this was the first bank I ever visited on my own. The experience was entirely different when I had my mother with me. Now, I have nobody to fill the forms, look at the display for token number and help me to move around the bank from one room to another room. While the staff are cooperative and helped me through the whole procedure, it would make me feel better if they had audio announcements for the token numbers, separate line for disabled people are a few issues which I faced in this place. I wish all banks to encourage visually impaired people to put their signature instead of giving their thumb impressions.
PVR Cinema – Forum Sujana Mall
I love watching movies and often visit PVR Cinema at Forum Sujana Mall as it is the closest multiplex from my college hostel. We, a group of four visually impaired guys go there without anyone escorting us. People at the ticket counters, food area are always nice to us, but it is only the people not the place.
It is an ordeal to find our seat numbers after entering into the theatre. Going to rest rooms is also a big issue here; I ended up going to the ladies toilet many times. We joke and laugh about it a lot, but there are times when I am red-faced. Having a staffer mind these zones for 10 minutes during intermission can help people like me and even senior citizens with poor visibility to avoid such situations. Having a usher who can help us find our seats or Braille indications can help too.
JNTU Metro Rail Station
I guess this is only place on this list which has a lot of pluses for visually impaired people. The tactile floors, Braille and sound indications and most importantly, helping people for the disabled make my travelling to any other place on metro trains easy. Integrating accessibility into their constructions is really helping us to have a pleasant travelling experience all together.
Announcements of the train station is also a great feature which helps us. I wish all the RTC buses also integrate this system. We are aiming to be smart cities and being inclusive – being welcoming of people from other regions and the differently enabled like me is what we should aim for. New constructions should include these amenities and make it a level playing field for all its citizens.