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by Anjlee Agarwal
Accessible India Campaign is the nationwide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility for all citizens including persons with disabilities. Since 1994, Samarthyam has been promoting universal accessibility in the country with the mission to make Incredible India: Inclusive India.
In November 2014, a team headed by Ms. Anjlee Agarwal, Founder & Executive Director, Samarthyam (www.samarthyam.com ) and Mr. Pranav Desai, Founder, Voice of Specially Able People (VoSAP) conceptualized the campaign in partnership with Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice; Empowerment, Government of India. The campaign sought to address the views of inaccessibility faced by 15% of India’s population who have some form of disability.
Led by Mr. Mukesh Jain, Joint Secretary, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has developed a Strategy Paper with targets and timelines to make India fully accessible. Ms. Anjlee Agarwal has been an advisor for the development of a portal and APP to raise awareness and provide information of sites and buildings that are not accessible for further action by the Ministry.
Full inclusion and equal participation of persons with disabilities is absolutely necessary by means of accessibility provided in the built, transportation and information and communication ecosystems. The private and public sectors all have a role to play in providing accessible infrastructure to address obstacles to inclusion and empowerment. Obstacles exist not only for those who have disabilities from birth or early in life, but also for the elderly, who might experience reduced hearing, vision, mobility or manual dexterity; and that these difficulties may call for accessible infrastructure. Working towards a goal of July 2016 – there is target to complete accessibility audits of 4,800 buildings in 48 cities, and to evaluate and make accessible 100 websites.
Hence, the Accessible India Campaign will promote and implement Universal Accessibility to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. This will also ensure their equal access on an equal basis with others, in the physical environment, in transportation, to Information and Communication and all facilities and services open / provided to the public both in urban and rural areas.
Although accessibility is mandatory as per the law, many authorities have yet to implement and reinforce accessible environment in all spheres of life. One must “Adopt, Implement and Monitor national accessibility standards and principles of Universal Design” to provide Universal Accessibility, which benefits ALL.
The Accessible India Campaign calls upon businesses and corporate institutions, Ministries, persons with disabilities, Government, Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and all others to join hands to make our public and private buildings, transport infrastructure and tourist sites accessible for all. Accessibility audits, development of guidelines, manuals and undertaking accessibility workshops are some of the activities outlined under the campaign.
Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment Strategy Paper :
In order to make an inclusive society a reality, it is necessary to identify and remove barriers to access.