By Sanjay Kumar
Accessible India Campaign (AIC) is the tionwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The aim of the campaign is to make a barrier-free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country. It was launched by Prime Minister rendra Modi on Intertiol Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December, 2015.
The campaign is based on the principles of the Social Model of Disability, that disability is caused by the way society is organised, and not the person’s limitations and impairments. The physical, social, structural and attitudil barriers prevent people with disabilities from participating equally in socio-cultural and economic activities. A barrier-free environment facilitates equal participation in all the activities and promotes an independent and dignified way of life. The campaign has the vision to build an inclusive society in which equal opportunities are provided for the growth and development of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) so that they can lead productive, safe and dignified lives.
For creating universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, the campaign has been divided into three verticals: Built Environment; Transport and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.
The Built Environment Accessibility component of Accessible India Campaign entails following targets: (i) Completing accessibility audit of at least 25-50 most important government buildings in 50 cities and making them fully accessible by the end of this year; (ii) Making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018; (iii) Completing accessibility audit of 50% of government buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of States not covered in targets (i) and (ii) by December 2019.
The Department has completed the accessibility audit of 1,653 buildings which were identified by state governments through empaneled Access Auditors. The Access Audit Reports for 1469 buildings were submitted to the State Nodal Officers for submitting fincial proposal for retrofitting of these building. The proposals for 575 buildings have been received under the scheme. Funds amounting to Rs 45.42 crore have been disbursed to States for 242 buildings. An amount of Rs.148 lakh has been released to auditors for conducting access-audit.
Transport accessibility component of Accessible India Campaign aims to make all intertiol airports fully accessible immediately and domestic airports by March 2018. Out of 32 intertiol airports 25 have been provided with accessibility features mely, ramps, accessible toilets, lifts with braille symbols and auditory sigls.
Railways is the most popular mode of transport in our country. In order to make one of the biggest rail-networks in the world accessible, all A1, A & B categories of railway stations are to be made fully accessible.
Under Accessible India Campaign, the Department aims to make 10% of government owned public transport carriers to be made fully accessible by March 2018. To achieve the same, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has issued instructions to States and Executive Directors of State Undertakings to ensure that 10% of government owned public transport is made fully accessible to the PwDs by March 2018.
Accessibility of Information and Communication System is another crucial pillar of Accessible India Campaign. The target set under this vertical is to make at least 50% of Central and State government websites accessible by March 2017.
The work order has already been issued for making 917 State government websites accessible. In addition to this, 100 government websites of 56 Ministries/Departments are being made accessible by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.
Department launched ‘Sugamya Pustakalaya’— an online library for Persons with Print Disabilities centred on achieving ‘Universal Accessibility’. The Department has also organised awareness workshops at Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Cheni and Ranchi to provide an insight into various contours of Accessible India Campaign. To create mass awareness on accessibility, a motorcycle rally ‘Ride4Accessibility’ was organised on July 24.2016 at India Gate, Lodhi Garden, Vasant Kunj and South Extension, in which more than 600 motorbike riders and 6000 youth/students participated.
In order to create a foot-print in digital space, the Department is constantly exploring social media for providing updates on AIC through blogs, reports, live broadcasts, pictures etc. The Department has a dedicated website —— www.accessibleindia.gov.in and a mobile application whereby, it can be reached for recent updates and happenings. (PIB)
(The author is posted at PIB, New Delhi. The article is based on inputs from the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), M/o Social Justice and Empowerment.)