Showing posts with label accessible tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label accessible tourism. 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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Making Mounuments accessible to Visually Impaired

Dear Colleagues,

A group of students at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) along with NGO Saksham, have come up with 12 miniature models of monuments from across the world to help blind children touch and try and understand for themselves by touching and feeling what the monuments looks like.  Till now,  a mere description of what a monument looks like was the closest they could come to seeing the real thing.

The students and design workshop faculty at SPA undertook the project to develop to-scale architectural models of well-known monuments and structures from around the world for the visually-impaired children at Saksham. The idea was floated by the NGO and quickly taken up by Vikrant Sharma, a guest faculty at the school.

"I heard about the idea that Saksham had and spoke to the first year students of the Workshop and Design class at SPA about it. It is a process that will benefit the visually-impaired children as well as the students as it will make them more socially aware and compassionate citizens," said Sharma.

The 70 students have worked in groups for 6 weeks and come up with 12 miniatures that go on display on Saturday at the school.

"If we had to indicate a water body, students have used wet sponge to recreate the effect since this project is more about the feel. Durability has also been kept in mind and the students have used materials such as plastic, plaster of Paris, PVC pipes and paints to recreate different textures," Sharma added.

According to members at Saksham, learning about heritage structures is very important for visually-impaired students.

"A visit to a museum, whether of art, local history or technology, or to a site of historical importance, is just as worthwhile for the blind and partially sighted as it is for visitors without visual impairments. They learn about their culture and past history," said Rumy Seth, member, Saksham.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Statue of Liberty is now officially barrier free

Dear Friends,

28 October 2012

A good news for the accessible tourism sector! Coinciding with the monument’s 126th birthday, the iconic Crown of the Statue of Liberty will reopen on October 28, 2012, after being closed for a year for renovations to make the New York landmark safer and more accessible to people in wheelchairs.

The renovations include new staircases and an elevator that will make the tourist attraction  more accessible for persons with disabilities. For the first time, tourist in wheelchairs will be able to access the observation decks. The final cost for the renovations totaled about $30 million.

There are also more stairs than ever before, with a daunting 393 steps to the crown, where there were previously 354 slightly steeper steps. Wheelchair accessible elevators inside the pedestal bring visitors to just below Lady Liberty's sandals.

The statue is 151 feet from base to torch. It sits atop the 89-foot (27-meter) tall stone pedestal, which sits on a 65-foot (20-meter) tall foundation in the shape of a star.

Visitors in wheelchairs, who could view the statue only from the ground before, can now ascend to the top of statue's pedestal and see inside the structure. Though they can not access inside the body of the statute still due to design constraints.

Designed by Frédéric Bartholdi, the iconic statue in New York Harbor, the statue, a gift from France to the United States, was dedicated in 1886 and declared a national monument in 1924. In 2009, the crown was reopened to the public for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001.