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 :
- Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
- Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
The Convention also mandates that all the Governments shall also take appropriate measures :
- 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;
- 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;
- To provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
- To provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms;
- 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;
- To promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
- 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 fulfill 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.
4. Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 under Sections 44, 45 and 46 categorically provides for non-discrimination 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 –
- Ramps in public buildings;
- Adaptation of toilets for wheel chair users;
- Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts;
- Ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other medical care and rehabilitation institutions
5. 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.
ACCESSIBLE INDIA CAMPAIGN
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.