Showing posts with label Barrier Free design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barrier Free design. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Continuous defiance of Accessibility Guidelines by Delhi's Civic Agencies bring them no harm


Dear Colleagues,
It is painful that in Delhi, the access is still a matter of advocacy, cajoling, recommendations despite a CPWD Manual of 1998, Chief Commissioner's guidelines of 2001 and National Building Code 2005. Today, most public buildings of the Government, Banks- whether public sector or private, schools - both private and public,  post offices, Pension offices, Dispensaries, ATMs, Bus stations, Pedestrian pathways, intersections,  markets, cinema halls, para transit vehicles, continue to remain inaccessible for persons with disabilities in clear breach of the legal mandate! 

Reason... no time frame in the law and no penalty for not ensuring accessibility and on top of it the tags like "within the limits of their economic capacity" that are found in the Disabilities Act of 1995 which otherwise can not be used given the huge sums lying with the authorities for the purpose.


All flyovers that have been created or are being created in the name of providing signal free arterial roads like inner ring road (Mahatma Gandhi Marg), outer ring road, make no provision for the pedestrians to cross over to the other side more particularly those provided at Dhaula Kuan Flyover, AIIMS Flyover & Mool Chand Flyover etc. The pedestrians including those with disabilities are forced to come in conflict with the moving traffic in absence of accessible pedestrian crossovers. Government's ever  road widening spree has made roads dangerous for pedestrians and it fails to address the congestion and pollution.

Most  pedestrian underpasses, foot-over bridges make no efforts to assimilate those living with reduced  mobility. Wherever, some relief is provided in terms of accessibility  it is usurped by parking mafia, encroachments and a bad civic sense. Is this the city or community do we want?


What we need today is deadlines and strict enforcement. Failures in achieving the deadline must meet a financial penalty on the responsible officials/ department. The guidelines on the Barrier Free Environment must be implemented by all departments and especially the civic agencies under whose domain the most public infrastructure is.


Our Social Welfare Minister has made an effort through her letter to all the departments of Delhi Government to ensure that guidelines are implemented properly but I see even here there is no deadline. The advisories don't work in the political system unless there is accountability for the continued defiance. 


It is the time that we no longer state "problems faced by persons with disabilities" as  reasons for providing accessibility. This must become a part of DNA of the Civil Agencies to plan and execute projects that are based on universal design. No more benefits in percentages that often seem to work counter productive. It has to be borne in mind that an accessible environment is beneficial and friendly to every body hence this is a requirement for every one and not just the disabled.


Here is the coverage from Times of India today: Follow Advisory for Disabled: Walia



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reality check of Accessiblity at Post Office: Lodi Road

Dear Friends,

Please refer to my earlier post - Post offices in Delhi are inaccessible but Department claims otherwise, incorporating media coverage on pathetic situation prevailing in the Post Offices of Delhi and the awareness level of the senior officials of the Department of Post on the Accessibility.

I had a reality check of accessibility status of the post office at Jor Bagh in the NDMC area which claims to be better off then most MCD controlled areas when it comes to accessibility in the public infrastructure.

The reality check /access audit  photos speak for themselves here:


Picture of the Lodi Road Post Office Signage
This Lodi Road Post Office is in a posh colony of South Delhi under
the New Delhi Municipal Council.

Picture of road side eatery blocking the pedestrian pathway
This protruding counter of this eatery on the pedestrian pathway
leading to the post office blocks the pedestrian movement 
Photo showing absence of kerb ramp on the pedestrian pathway leading to post office
The pedestrian pathway leading to the Post Office
doesn't have a kerb ramp or kerb cut. 


Photo showing decked up entrance with offers of 7% off on gold coins but access blocked by barriers
The Gate at the post office fails to welcome me. The barriers
and the huge kerb stare at me!

photo showing blocked access
These barriers purportedly placed to stop entry of vehicles also act
as barrier to my independent mobility, thereby nullifying the benefits
of the ramps provided!

photo showing ramp without handrails
From the entrance two slope ramps like a U are provided but
with no handrails or signage!

Ramp ends with a thud without and tactile indication. The ramp
edge is a trip hazard on both ends.


Similarly the other side of the ramp has no handrails  and
ends with an threshold which is a trip hazard.

Photo showing stepped entry to post office, high counters and use of granite flooring which is slippery
Entrance 1 is stepped and granite has been used in the post office
which makes it slippery and inaccessible to the visitors with disabilities.

Entrance 2 is also stepped with a similar pattern. The counter height
on both sides is inaccessible to those with disabilities and
caters to only standing persons.
When the reality check at the prominent areas under NDMC is so alarming what do we expect of the other post offices in Delhi, especially the ones in the areas served by MCD where the civil amenities are even more pathetic. This is in gross violation of the prevalent norms of barrier free environment.

Another reality check coming week in an area served by MCD !
regards

SC Vashishth


Monday, October 29, 2012

Post Offices in Delhi are inaccessible but Deptt. claims otherwise


29 October 2012,

NEW DELHI: Gulmohar Park's post office exists in the basement of DDA market, down a flight of stairs in a structure with no ramps or lift. That, however, hasn't deterred the south division of the India Post from declaring it "barrier-free" in its reply to an RTI enquiry filed by Dr Satyendra Singh, professor of physiology at University College of Medical Sciences and doctor at GTB Hospital.

Singh, himself disabled, filed a query under RTI Act in July requesting information from the postal department on the levels of accessibility at Delhi post offices. The reply is worrying as many first-floor post offices have no lifts and many of those declared "barrier-free" have stairs leading to them.

South division claims 65 of their 67 post offices (including Gulmohar Park's), are "barrier-free". The ones at Chittaranjan Park and Kailash Colony, it admits, are on the first floor "without any facility of lift". South division also claims that "ramps have been constructed for free movement of wheelchairs" and "height of all the counters has been lowered for easy access".

West division, too, claims "all the post offices of this division are easily accessible and barrier-free". "The two post offices in Rajouri Garden are both on the ground floor. The one in Janta Market has a very high pavement in front of it and the one in the main market is on a narrow and potholed bylane frequently flooded by sewage water and is slippery. A visually-impaired person can't reach that one," says Singh. The postal department didn't reply to his queries immediately but responded only after a first appeal was filed.

Singh travels 10 kilometers to Vasundhara, Ghaziabad, to send a speed post as the post offices closer to home all are inaccessible. "We only have impairments, it's the society which makes us disabled," he says.

North division runs 81 post offices of which 14 are above ground-floor or occupy multiple-floors. As per the division's own admission, "there is no provision of lifts in any post office building". However, the division had written to the executive engineer, postal civil division, for providing assistance as per the Disability Act, in seven post offices (including Ashok Vihar, Civil Lines, Malka Ganj and Rohini Sector 7) first in January 2009 and again in July and September, 2010, "but the needful has not been done yet". Southwest division runs 60 post offices, mostly from rented buildings, and 46 of them don't have ramps for wheelchairs. None of the post offices in the southwest division are on the first floor.

In central division, four post offices are operating from first-floors, "without having the lift" or any "separate arrangement for the people with disability". East division, too, states that "no post office under this division is with the facility of lift" and "no facilities were provided" for people with disability on POs above ground-floor. They say that barring seven post offices (at Krishna Nagar, Azad Nagar, Old Seemapuri, Mayur Vihar, Shahdaramandi, Gandhi Nagar Bazar and GTB Hospital), the rest of their 62 offices are "accessible to all persons with disabilities". Apparently, the stairs (without even handrails) at the PO in Jhilmil Industrial Area are not a barrier.

In the first question, Singh had sought "accessibility status" and explained what he meant by adding parenthetically, "whether accessible/barrier-free or not to persons with disabilities". In reply to this query, the office of the director, General Post Office, informs, "The GPO is centrally located and it is, therefore, accessible for all".





4 November 2012

KOLKATA, 4 NOV: Dr Satendra Singh travels kilometres to post letters, even though there is a post office on the campus of the hospital where he works. “I don't like to tell people, you do this for me,” he said.

Dr Singh, who had polio which left him disabled, is an assistant professor of physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Delhi. He said he had sent many letters to the hospital superintendent to tell him that the on-campus post office couldn't be easily accessed by him, but didn't get a reply.

Starting to think about accessibility elsewhere also, Dr Singh said, “I decided I should know the status of all the post offices in the Capital of the nation.” A series of RTI responses show that many post offices in the Capital lack the facilities that would bring them in line with the country's obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, he said.

The Delhi East Division office's response listed seven of the post offices in their zone that are not accessible, for example. The Central Division said, “as per records no such facilities have been provided” in response to his request for details of “all the standard facilities for barrier-free access made available for the Persons with Disability.”

South Division officials said in their response that 65 of their 67 post offices  are “barrier-free”, but two ~ one at Chittaranjan Park and the other at Kailash Colony ~ are on the first floor “without any facility of lift”.

Dr Singh was also surprised that the only complaint about accessibility in post offices had, in fact, been filed by him.

“It is shocking. But I am not only blaming the post offices but also the community that they are just sitting there.” He said, in his opinion, this silence is a sign of real disability. “If somebody is not raising his voice, he is truly a disabled person.” If post offices were made accessible, it wouldn't only help the disabled, he said, but also senior citizens and young children.

Dr Singh was also concerned about the response from the Office of the Director of the General Post Office to the questions asking about the “accessible status” of the New Delhi General Post Office, and specifically “whether it is accessible/barrier-free or not to Persons with Disabilities (PwD)”.

“New Delhi GPO is centrally located, it is therefore accessible to all,” the response said. “They thought accessibility meant connectivity,” said Dr Singh.

“A person at a very senior post is not aware of the definition of accessibility, what about lower people...”.

Source: The Stateman

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Inclusive parks/playgrounds of Kilikili get UNESCO pat

Dear colleagues, 

The efforts of Bangalore based Kilikili - an organisation initiated by Ms. Kavita Krishnamoorthy, a special educator and architect, have found pat from none other than UNESCO. Here is the news report from DNA.


Published: Friday, Mar 2, 2012, 11:54 IST 
By Subir Ghosh | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

When a group of parents with differently abled children came together in 2005 to lobby for parks and playgrounds in the city be made accessible to such children, they faced an uphill task.

They were not sure if the move would work. But some six years later, the initiative is being lauded by UNESCO as a success story, that can be emulated the world over.

The initiative in question is Kilikili, a Bangalore-based trust that was set up to create inclusive neighbourhood play spaces for all children, regardless of their abilities, and to involve children in the design process. The Kilikili case study finds place in UNESCO’s ‘The State of the World’s Children 2012’ report that was published on Wednesday. This year’s annual report focuses on making cities fit for children.

Former Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner K Jairaj bought the idea that came in the form of a visually attractive proposal from Kavita Krishnamoorthy, the managing trustee of Kilikili. The pitch was drafted by a core group comprising Krishnamoorthy, an architect and a special educator, that was formed after an initial round of consultations with parents, schools, and of course the children.

The first project, that sought to make parks and playgrounds disabled-friendly, was set up in Coles Park. The success of the project prompted the BMPP and Kilikili to replicate the idea at 
MN Krishna Rao Park in Basavangudi and Gayatri Devi Park in Rajajinagar.

Krishamoorthy remains unassuming about the Unesco mention, and talks of the tasks ahead. Her organisation, which runs with only two part-time employees, has pitched ideas for similar projects in Jayanagar, Jeevan Bima Nagar and Whitefield. “We are pursuing the BBMP to implement the projects, but these things eventually take up a lot of time to bear fruit.”

The BBMP bears all the costs to make the parks friendly for children with special needs. Kilikili, for its part, networks with parents, schools and volunteers, and works towards developing a community around a project area.

Once the BBMP’s part is done, it is this community that takes over. “Parents of children with special needs usually don’t want to come alone,” says Krishnamoorthy. But the support that the Kilikili initiative elicited, particularly from the residents of these areas, has possibly kept her going. Kilikili is hardly an organisation — it is a network.

What bothered Krishnamoorthy initially was about the invisibility of children with disabilities from the mainstream. Her project, therefore, works on inclusion. Besides the weekly trips to parks that are organised by the schools, Kilikili holds events in these parks every three months, where all children participate. ‘Normal’ children get the chance to interact and play with those with special needs.

During initial consultations that the core group held in 2005, one of the refrains that had cropped up frequently was “other children don’t talk to us since they don’t understand us.” These events seek to sink the differences.

All, however, is not hunky dory. Lack of maintenance work by the BBMP at Coles Park has forced parents and schools to stop bringing the children here. It has been almost a year now, and Krishnamoorthy rues that the “work indeed progresses very slowly.” For instance, the ramp at one of the gates still exists, but the railing has fallen off.Repeated complaints have fallen on deaf ears. The ball is definitely in the court of BBMP. Its role in the project too has been lauded in the Unesco report.

The two other projects, however, have been very successful. Last year, close to 2,000 children had visited the two parks.

Krishnamoorthy understands the need of children. She was herself the mother of athree-year-old boy with special needs when a casual remark by her husband about lack of adequate facilities at a park had set her thinking.

Six years later, she and her colleagues are working on a technical manual that would help the BBMP design parks and playgrounds that address crucial needs of children with special needs.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Design Within Reach - Magazine - The Atlantic

Dear friends

I am amazed at the technology that can keep persons with disabilities on the technical rolls such as Architects ! And this makes more sense as Architects will learn to design not only for eyes but also for other senses - a design that benefits all and not only be visually appealing. The technology has made it possible for the Blind Architects to draw and appreciate the floor plans and elevations!

Have a look at this Article:


Design Within Reach

A blind architect relearns his craft.
ONE MORNING LAST FALL, Chris Downey, an architect, ran his long white cane across a pair of floor-tile samples spread out at his feet in the San Francisco office of an architecture firm, SmithGroup. Gathered around him, a handful of architects watched. They wanted to know which tile he preferred for a new rehabilitation center for the blind at the Veterans Administration hospital in Palo Alto. Downey looked up at Eric Meub, a vice president at the firm—not at him, exactly, just over his shoulder. “The one on the right is distinctive in either direction,” Downey said. “The other one has a preferred direction.” For a blind patient still learning to use a cane, that first tile would give more-predictable feedback.There was an awkward silence. The other architects looked at one another. Downey chuckled. “So you’re saying the one on the right is the one that doesn’t look so good,” he said, grinning.

...........detailed article at   Design Within Reach - Magazine - The Atlantic

regards
Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Consultant -Diversity & Inclusive Environments