Accessible India Campaign

  • Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment extended the deadline for Accessible India campaign to March 2020 due to slow progress.
  • The original deadlines under the campaign was July, 2018, for conducting an accessibility audit of 25-50 of the most important government buildings in 50 cities and making them completely accessible.

Reasons

  • Under the campaign, the target of making 50% of all the government buildings of all the State capitals fully accessible has not been met yet.
  • Complete accessibility audit of 50% of government buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of States is still under development.

Accessible India Campaign (AIC)

  • Also known as Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan, it was launched by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, in December, 2015, as a nation-wide Campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs)or

Aim

  • To enable persons with disabilities to gain universal access.
  • To provide equal opportunity for development, independent living and participation in all aspects of life in an inclusive society.
  • To create an accessible physical environment that benefits everyone, not just persons with disabilities.

Components of AIC

Built Environment Accessibility

  • An accessible physical environment benefits everyone, not just persons with disabilities. Measures should be undertaken to eliminate obstacles and barriers to indoor and outdoor facilities including schools, medical facilities, and workplaces.
  • These include not only buildings, but also footpaths, curb cuts, and obstacles that block the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Transportation System Accessibility

  • Transportation is a vital component for independent living, and like others in society, PwDs rely on transportation facilities to move from one place to another.
  • The term transportation covers a number of areas including air travel, buses, taxis, and trains.

Information and Communication Eco-System Accessibility

  • Access to information creates opportunities for everyone in society and it refers to all information. People use information in many forms to make decisions about their daily lives.
  • This can range from actions such as being able to read price tags, to physically enter a hall, to participate in an event, to read a pamphlet with healthcare information, to understand a train timetable, or to view webpages.

Significance

  • With Accessible India Campaign, India has joined the rest of the world, as an inclusive society with universal accessibility, caring for its citizens, accessibility rights and independent living.
  • Physical accessibility related actions will initiate accessibility to education, employment and livelihood helping built a stronger nation.

Recent Developments towards AIC

Management Information System (MIS)

  • In September, 2019, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) developed a Management Information System (MIS) for stakeholders of AIC.
  • The MIS portal will bring all the nodal ministries and States/UTs on a single platform for monitoring the progress being made against each target of AIC.
  • The portal will be useful in maintaining all the function on digital platform and capture data on a real-time basis.

Website Accessibility Project

  • In January, 2018, DEPwD initiated Website Accessibility Project for State Government/Union Territories under Accessible India Campaign through ERNET India, to make total 917 websites accessible to Divyangjans.

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act – 2016

  • Enacted in December 2016, the act facilitates full acceptance of people with disability and ensures full participation and inclusion of such persons in the society.

Aim

  • To uphold the dignity of every PwD in the society and prevent any form of discrimination.

Salient Features

  • It defines PwD as any person with long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which on interacting with barriers hinder effective and equal growth in the society.
  • The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.
  • Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time.
  • Acid Attack Victims have been included.
  • Dwarfism, muscular dystrophy have has been indicated as separate class of specified disability.
  • The New categories of disabilities also included three blood disorders, Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease.

Significance

  • The Act is in line with the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory, since 2007. This will fulfill the obligations on the part of India in terms of UNCRD.
  • Further, it not only helps to enhance the Rights and Entitlements of Divyangjan but also provide effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment and true inclusion into the society in a satisfactory manner.

United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

  • Adopted in December, 2006, UNCRPD is the first international treaty which identifies the rights of disabled people as well as the obligations in order to promote, protect and ensure those rights.
  • The Convention entered into force on 3rd May, 2008.
  • It is a benchmark document that works to ensure the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.
Aim
  • To ensure that disabled people enjoy the same human rights as everyone else and that they can participate fully in society by receiving the same opportunities as others.

What is an Accessible Building?

  • An accessible building is one, where persons with disabilities have no barrier in entering it and using all the facilities therein.
  • This covers the built environment – services, steps and ramps, corridors, entry gates, emergency exits, parking – as well as indoor and outdoor facilities including lighting, signages, alarm systems and toilets.

Criteria

  • Identifying accessible buildings requires annual accessibility audits that determine if a building meets agreed upon standards.
  • Once a building is deemed fully accessible, an annual audit is not necessary, but should be required for any proposed changes to the structure or systems contained therein.
  • A full audit can then be done on a less frequent basis. Standards of accessibility should be as consistent as possible with international standards, such as those of the ISO, taking into account the local context.
  • In regards to the built environment, ISO 21542:2011, Building Construction –Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment, delineates a set of requirements and recommendations concerning construction, assembly, components and fittings.

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, December, 2019