Showing posts with label Accessible Public Transport. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Accessible Public Transport. Show all posts

Monday, February 16, 2015

Accessible India Campaign / सुगम्य भारत अभियान

Following Information was given by the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 23 Dec 2014:

Accessible India Campaign (सुगम्य भारतअभियान ) is the nationwide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for all citizens including Persons with Disabilities, to be able to gain access and live independently. The Accessible India Campaign comprises of the following key components:-

(i) Create Mass Awareness
(ii) Capacity Building
(iii) Interventions (Technology solutions, Legal framework, Resource generation)
(iv) Leverage corporate sector efforts including CSR resources.
(v) Leadership endorsements

Section 44, 45 and 46 of Persons with Disabilities (PwD) Act, 1995 deals with non-discrimination in transport, non-discrimination on the road and non-discrimination in the built environment, respectively. All the Establishments, appropriate Governments and the local authorities are mandated by these provisions of the PwD Act to take, within the limits of their economic capacity, measures for providing easy accessibility for persons with disabilities in a non-discriminatory manner.

The Ministry as well as the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) from time to time request the State Govts./UT Administrations for providing barrier free access to public places by constructing ramps, lifts and railings.

Vide letter dated 24.01.2012, Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) had written to all the Chief Secretaries of the States/UT Administrations among other things to take concrete and time bound steps to enforce accessibility standards and guidelines.

CCPD also takes up with the concerned State Govts./authorities as and when non-availability of facilities for access to public places for persons with disabilities comes to their notice.

The Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities of the concerned States are also requested to follow up with their respective State Govts./UT Administrations.

A letter dated 8.07.2014 has also been sent from Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment to the Chief Ministers of all States requesting them to issue suitable directions to all concerned for taking appropriate measures in concrete and time-bound manner for incorporation of barrier free access to all public buildings and transportation. They have also been requested that similar provisions may be made in local municipal/building bye-laws.

Moreover, under the Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 (SIPDA), Ministry provides Grants-in-aids to all States/UTs to provide barrier free environment in important Government buildings (State Secretariat, other important State level offices, Collectorates, State University Buildings/ Campuses, Medical Colleges and Main Hospitals at Divisional Headquarters, other important Government buildings), for Persons with Disabilities as per Section 46 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation of Rights) Act, 1995 (PwD Act). This includes provision for ramps, rails, lifts, adaptation of toilets for wheelchair users, brail signage and auditory signals, tactile flooring, etc.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

KickStart - Accessible Taxis available in Bangalore now at regular rate

Dear Colleagues,

This news in Times of India regarding an initiative KickStart by our colleague and friend Ms. Vidhya Ramasubban is a welcome step for promoting inclusive tourism as well as inclusive mobility in the South Indian city of Bangalore!

Great initiative after your Ladakh project Ms. Ramasubban!

These cabs put the differently abled on the fast track

Sruthy Susan Ullas, TNN | Jun 30, 2014, 01.50AM IST

BANGALORE: Deepa Maski, 28, wheels herself with ease into her office in Electronics City, a stone's throw from her home. Her powered wheelchair is good enough to take her to her workplace every day. But a movie at iMax, Koramangala, becomes impossible without someone's help.

Mobility being a major concern, the project lead with HCL tried stopping several BMTC Volvos and telling the drivers about the ramps available in those vehicles. Surprisingly, many didn't know such a facility existed, and even if they did, they were clueless about how to operate them. Her movie-watching was, therefore, restricted to videos and downloads. But once she found Kickstart cabs, things started looking better.

Today, the disabled-friendly cab service ensures Deepa doesn't find herself stranded. A regular at family functions and social gatherings, she now looks forward to watching movies on the large screen.

KickStart, an initiative by Vidhya Ramasubban, offers cabs that are modified to be wheelchair friendly. Like any other cab service, it offers point-to-point drops, airport drops, outstation and local hire. The cost is almost in the same range.

KickStart has three cars to choose from — The front seat of the Swift Dzire is like an office swivel chair, which can move in and out of the car, allowing the customer to use it like a normal office chair. Then there's the Wagon R with a ramp, which aids the user to get their wheelchair in. The front seat of the modified Toyota Liva is remote controlled, and can jut out of the car to pick the customer from any place.

"Most of the differently abled people and senior citizens are home-bound as they don't have transport to move about. This cab service is changing their lives," explains Vidhya, who has a masters degree in social work, and has been working for the differently abled for close to 15 years.

Ask Rama Chari, a consultant, how convenient the service is for her 80-year-old mother, and she says: "My mother uses a wheelchair which doesn't fit into a car's boot. So every time we'd go somewhere, we had no option but to tie the wheelchair atop the car. The very cumbersome process would put her off and she would avoid travelling. This new cab service has helped her regain mobility. In fact, she even got her wheelchair repaired from Mobility India all by herself," says Rama.

The cab drivers are sensitized to the customers' requirements, helping them in and out of the car. "I am deaf. So every time a cab reaches my home, the driver texts me saying he is waiting outside. No call is made," explains a customer.

From a 10-year-old girl who goes to school in the cab to a 70-year-old who is hospital-bound, customer profiles vary. "We even get calls from clinics. They say many of their patients drop out as they are unable to commute. Most of our clients are senior citizens and differently abled who travel to hospitals or on personal work," says Vidhya.

KickStart cabs have caught the attention of other cities too. In fact, Vidhya soon plans to expand the service both in the city and beyond. The organization hopes to get another 10 cars in the next one year. Vidhya also plans to recruit women and transgenders as drivers to empower them.

Source: Times of India

Monday, March 4, 2013

Concerns arising out of Rail Budget 2013 for Persons with Disabilities

Dear Colleagues,

Recent railway budget speech of the railway minister announced the following for the benefit of persons with disabilities:

"India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the rights of the disabled. We are conscious of our responsibility under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To facilitate the boarding of trains and exit from the stations for the differently-abled and the elderly, the steps proposed include provision of 179 escalators and 400 lifts at A-1 and other major stations, affixing Braille stickers indicating the layout of coaches including toilets, provision of wheel chairs and battery operated vehicles at more stations and making coaches wheel-chair friendly.

In order to provide an employment avenue to the disabled people, I propose to reserve a specified number of JTBS for them, keeping in view the fact that the PCOs at stations have become largely redundant after the mobile revolution in India".

Concerted efforts to fill up approximately 1.52 lakh vacancies this year. It is a measure of popularity of railways as an employer that a staggering 2.2 crore applications were received. For the first time, Railway recruitment examinations were held at more than 60 cities across the country. In the process, a backlog of about 47,000 vacancies earmarked for weaker sections and physically challenged is likely to get cleared".

PIB has published the budget highlights that are available in PDF at link: Rail Budget 2013 highlights.

Critical Review of Rail Budget 2013

Here is a the para - wise critical review of the rail budget 2013 from the perspective of the disability sector and the mandate of UNCRPD and the spirit of Disability Act::

(a)       Passenger Amenities:  The paragraph does not mention the amenities will be made inclusive and follow universal design standards to be accessible and friendly to everyone irrespective of abilities. Persons with reduced mobility have been facing infrastructural barriers in the community for a long time. The railways must declare and budget for making its rolling stock as well as platforms and services accessible and barrier free based on universal design. Currently the effort is just to make a small exclusive section accessible which actually excludes people from the mainstream and renders them vulnerable.  While A-1 and major stations have been proposed to be made accessible by lifts and escalators, we strongly suggest you to include sustainable non-dynamic features like ramped access to foot-over bridges at all the Railways stations to provide connectivity to all the platforms (as provided on Agra Railway Station and few others). This makes it easier for passengers with heavy luggage, those travelling with elderly members and children and for women.   Similarly, the concern of platform to train compartment transfer is still unaddressed. Even the so called disabled friendly coach has four steps to access it hence it remains inaccessible to disabled people. It is pertinent to mention here that the philosophy of Universal Design has been specially included in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) that you have so kindly referred to in the Budget speech.

(b)      IT enabled services: The paragraph is silent on the web accessibility standards requirement, online booking allowing booking concessional tickets by passengers with disabilities and other listed services inclusive. This is despite the fact the UNCRPD specifically refers to making all the Web services accessible and Govt of India has already mandated WCAG 2.0 level for websites. The online system continues to ignore passengers with disabilities.  (UNCRPD Article 9 : Accessibility)

(c)       Ticket Reservation: The paragraph doesn’t mention about accessible e-ticketing facility even while talking about the enhancing the speed and capacity of the system. Declaring and clarifying the same would be in line with the mandate of the UNCRPD that India stands committed to. (UNCRPD Article 9 : Accessibility)

(d)      Catering:  The toll free number for complaint doesn’t address the needs of persons with hearing impairment/ Deaf passengers who primarily depend on the text SMS for filing any complaint. It is requested to consider SMS based complaints also to make it inclusive to deaf passengers. (UNCRPD Article 9 : Accessibility)

(e)       Rail Tourism: This section doesn’t mention about accessibility while the designing the executive lounge at Delhi. Similarly regarding the trains, it says "The train will be made attractive and affordable through concessional fares", without any mention of their being accessible based on universal design so that everyone irrespective of disabilities can enjoy the use the lounge and train services. It would be pertinent to mention that accessibility will promote rail tourism also among a large number of international travelers with disabilities, elderly travelers and their families who have been, so far getting discouraged due to lack of accessible tourism options in the Country. (UNCRPD Article 9 : Accessibility & Article 30 - Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport)

(f)       Staff: Our experience indicates that the amenities such as quarters and hostels etc continue to be designed without keeping the needs of the diversity of employees. Railway being the largest public sector employer, it would be in the fitness of things that staff amenities such as the quarters and hostel are made barrier free based on universal design and that the ministry makes a special mention about it in its formal communications. (UNCRPD Article 9 : Accessibility)

(g)      Skill Development:  This section must include marginalized groups and persons with disabilities to bring them to the mainstream so as to realize the mandate of the UNCRPD. (UNCRPD Article 24 Education & Article 27 Work & Employment)

(h)      Rail Heritage: The plan to revamp the museum for the benefit of children is a welcome step. Currently, there are lots of accessibility issues from the perspectives of children with visual, mental and physical disabilities and it should be confirmed that the whole revamp would be done in consultation with the involvement of stakeholders so that the museum is based on best international standards and inclusive to every child irrespective of his abilities. (UNCRPD Article 9 Accessibility & Article 30 - Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport)

Disability Sector not happy with the Railway Budget

Disability Rights is off the rails

Javed Abidi

Like all other years, this year’s Railway budget did not bring any cheer for India’s 70-100 million people with disabilities, a large number of whom depend on the Railways for their basic mobility needs.

The only difference was that for the first time, the new Railway Minister talked about the substantive issue of accessibility at the stations and in the coaches. However, the discrimination and indignity faced by millions of persons with disabilities trying to use the Railways cannot be addressed by mere pious statements of good intent. The barriers are deep-rooted and systemic.

Let’s try and understand what it means for the average person with disability to travel with the Railways.
To begin with, you can’t buy the tickets online. The website is not accessible as it does not conform to web content accessibility guidelines despite a Government of India policy mandating so. And even if you are not print-impaired, you ‘have to’ physically go to the booking counter with your disability certificate in hand to avail yourself of the discount and get a prized seat in that one single accessible coach per train.
The booking counters are not accessible and that one ‘accessible’ counter for ‘special’ and ‘differently-abled’ people (pun intended) is not manned most of the time.

To top it, by the government’s own admission, more than 50 per cent of the people with disabilities actually don’t have a disability certificate.

Even if you are lucky to have a disability certificate, you are forced to purchase two tickets and to travel with an ‘attendant,’ never mind if you are totally independent and can actually travel alone.


To get to the coach is another huge struggle. The way to the platforms is not at all accessible. India is still stuck with the concept of foot over-bridges with a thousand steep steps, and no ramps or lifts. You are therefore left with no choice but to use the same path as the luggage carts — littered with potholes and garbage.
The concept of ‘accessibility’ for the Railways has remained limited to one accessible toilet for the entire station. God help you if you urgently need to use one but you are on Platform No. 2 and the ‘disabled-friendly’ toilet happens to be at the extreme end of the station, beyond Platform No. 7.

It is the same story with all other public facilities such as the drinking water taps, the public telephone booths, and so on.

The worst aspect of the Railways in the modern, 21st century India is the segregated coach for people with disabilities. This ‘special’ coach for ‘differently-abled’ people is attached now to almost every long-distance train either at the beginning, immediately after the engine, or towards the very end, right next to the guard. A person with disability doesn’t have the same choice as other passengers because all the other coaches are not accessible.

We all know the story of Mahatma Gandhi having been thrown off a first-class carriage in South Africa because of the colour of his skin. I say Gandhiji was lucky. After all, he did manage to get into the coach. I, as a wheelchair user, can’t even get inside.

What is needed is a holistic, time-bound action plan with a generous resource allocation. We are not asking for any miracles but there should be a serious start somewhere. I offer a simple three-point agenda to our new Railways Minister: Make the Railways website accessible. Make all A1 category stations fully accessible (stations are categorised by passenger traffic). Make at least one coach accessible in every class of every train. Fix a practical time frame, allocate a decent budget and for God’s sake, then just do it!

(Javed Abidi is a very disgruntled disabled Indian citizen. He has been a wheelchair user for the last 33 years and yet, is not 'wheelchair-bound'. He keeps travelling around the world as the Global Chair of Disabled People's International (DPI). He is neither ‘invalid’ nor ‘special.’ And, he certainly is not ‘differently’ abled. He travels by train all the time, but only in America and in Europe. At home, in modern India, he cannot. He cannot even get inside them but he wants to. Hence, this piece, in the hope that things will change. He is Convener, Disabled Rights Group (DRG) and Chairperson, DPI.)

Source: The Hindu