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Accessible Tourism Campaign In India

Department of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has launched the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), as a nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities. The campaign would initially be implemented on pilot basis in seven States, which include Delhi, Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamilnadu. While implementing the Accessible India Campaign, it is proposed that we are in sync with the guidelines set by the Incheon strategy as below: 

3.A – Increase the accessibility of the physical environment in the national capital that is open to the public.

3.B – Enhance the accessibility and usability of public transportation.

3.C – Enhance the accessibility and usability of information and communications services.

The Incheon strategy guidelines have also defined indicators for tracking the progress on these targets.

3.1 Proportion of accessible government buildings in the national capital

3.2 Proportion of accessible international airports

3.4 Proportion of accessible and usable public documents and websites that meet internationally recognized accessibility standards

3.6 Availability of mandatory technical standards for barrier-free access that govern the approval of all designs for buildings that could be used by members of the public, taking into consideration internationally recognized standards, such as those of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

3.8 Number of sign language interpreters

In view of the above, it is proposed to have the following objectives and targets for the Accessible India Campaign:-

Objective 1 : Enhancing the proportion of accessible government buildings

           An accessible government building is one, where a person with disabilities has 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.

           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 Part A: Built Environment Accessibility 6 changes to the structure or systems contained therein. A full audit can then be done on a less frequent basis. 

a)    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

Similarly there are measures for enhancing proportion of accessible airports. An airport is accessible if a person with a disability has no barrier in entering it, using all the facilities and boarding and disembarking from airplanes. This covers the built environment Surfaces, steps and ramps, corridors, entry ways emergency exists, parking as well as indoor and outdoor facilities including lighting, signage, alarm systems and toilets. While enhancing the proportion of accessible railway stations it is to be ensured stations are converted into fully accessible railway stations. About accessible public transport, must ensure these are accessible with low level entry/exits and seating areas. In the other objective there is also focused guidance for accessible and usable public documents and websites that meet internationally recognized accessibility standards. Same applies for pool of sign language interpreters.

In tourism field, a serious attempt has been made to ensure tourism facilities are made accessible for disabled friendly. Hotels have ramps for entry/exit, wheel chair facilities, disabled friendly rooms with toilets, work tables, alarm and movement facilities to reach other service/facilities areas like Restaurants, Banquette Halls and designated areas for parking of cars with attendants for assistance. Even information booklets on tourism monuments have been brought out by ASI and Tourism on Brail as a joint effort (Some small beginning) but this initiative deserve praise as many countries overseas do not understand how our government is actively seized in this field and wants to avail themselves of this segment of tourists towards India. Even tour operators have disabled friendly cars/coaches to move from places  Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)  also have made arrangements  for visiting the Heritage monuments with ramps/toilets interpretation centers and many  Railway stations (A group) stations are disabled friendly as also Airports. We are taking right steps to boost tourism make India a partner based or global norms to have disabled friendly Accessible Tourism.

Accessibility is about giving equal access to everyone. Without being able to access the facilities and services found in the communities, persons with disabilities will never be fully included. Accessible India Campaign initiated by our government seek cooperation of all Central Government Department/ Ministries and State Governments to seek “accessible police station”, accessible hospitals”, “accessible tourism”, and “accessible digital India” etc

India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Article 9 of UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter-alia :

a)    Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces

b)   Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.

Thus the efforts include that the Governments shall also take appropriate measures:

a)    To develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public

b)   To ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;

c)    To provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities; 

d)   To provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms; 

e)    To provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guidelines, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public

f)     To promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information

g)    To promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;

Governments at the High Level Inter Governmental Meeting organized by the Govt. of Republic of Korea adopted the ministerial declaration and Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for PwDs in Asia and Pacific. The Incheon Strategy provides the Asian and Pacific Region, and the world the first set of regionally agreed distinct – inclusive development goals. The Strategy comprises 10 goals, 27 targets and 62 indicators, which build on UNCRPD. Goal No. 3 of the Incheon Strategy mentions that access to the physical environment, public transportation, knowledge, information and communication is a precondition for persons with disabilities to fulfil their rights in an inclusive society. The accessibility of urban, rural and remote areas based on universal design increases safety and ease of use not only for persons with disabilities, but also for all other members of society. Access audits are an important means of ensuring accessibility and must cover all stages of the process of planning, design, construction, maintenance and monitoring and evaluation. Access to assistive devices and related support services is also a precondition for persons with disabilities to optimize their level of independence in daily life and live in dignity. Ensuring the availability of assistive devices for those living in low-resource settings involves encouraging research, development, production, distribution and maintenance. 

Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 under Sections 44, 45 and 46 categorically provides for nondiscrimination in transport, non-discrimination on the road and non-discrimination in built environment respectively.

As per Section 46 of the PwD Act, the States are required to provide for

   I.        Ramps in public buildings;

   II.        Adaptation of toilets for wheel chair users;

  III.        Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts;

  IV.       Ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other medical care and rehabilitation institutions

Section 44 and 45 of the said Act cast responsibility on the States to take measures to make public transport accessible for PwDs and also make provision for auditory signals at red lights in public roads, curb cuts and slops in pavements, engraving on the surface at zebra crossings etc.


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