Showing posts with label Inclusive Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inclusive Travel. Show all posts

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Finally Railways plan to address access issues at select 1500 railway stations!

Indian Railways have been sitting over the access improvement plans over 10 years now. Several Writ petitions followed, but nothing more than assurances and promises came out. The Indian Railways have now decided to address access issues at some odd 1500 stations now which is nothing but a miniscule in such a vast country.

My Fears

  • And mind you, they say that they are doing it not because it is mandated under a binding Central Law called The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 but because of the continuous requests which are being received from the physically challenged people from all over India. What a cruel joke on the 14 year old Legislative Enactment of Indian Parliament!

  • If Railways execute the access solutions at the standards at which they are currently doing at many of the stations, I fear whether we will ever have accessibility at Indian Railway Stations and trains !

  • As long as you call alternate access ramps, reserved parking slots, low height water taps and accessible toilets to be special facilities, I doubt it would be sustainable! Answer lies in Universal Design! Why can't the stations be designed to be accessible to all based on universal design rather than special access to some.

  • Today, in the name of low height water taps, inaccessible taps have been built. Look at the socalled "accessible toilets" at stations. They remain either locked or are inaccessible. Ramps are slippery, there is no platform to platform connectivity. Wheelchairs are not available easilty at stations. Staff is often missing from "May I help you" counters. There is no awarness in the implementing contractors and engineers. What they consider accessible is actually not accessible.

Perceptions about Accessibility Differ from Actual Accessibility

The simple question- do you involve competent consultants and users to ensure that the end product is fault free? Perceptions of accessibility differ from person to person and this subjectivity kills the design and the usage of end product for the end user in absence of uniform universal design standards being adopted.


Subhash C. Vashishth

To read the news in detail click on links:

Times of India
Travel Biz Monitor