Time to ramp up access for disabled

Time to ramp up access for disabled

Time to ramp up access for disabled

The roads of Bangalore are a challenge to walk on for most people. But have we ever given a thought on how tough it must be for the physically challenged? 

The high dividers and uneven pavements make it impossible for them to move about. And it’s not just the roads. Even the malls and parks can prove to be a big challenge.

One can rarely find a physically challenged person in a place like Cubbon Park in which the washrooms are far and few and the roads are uneven.

According to Basavaraj, who is the executive director of the Association of People with Disabilities (APD) and has worked in the field for over three decades, there is a growing awareness among people about the needs of the disabled.

“There is a certain level of interest which was non-existant many years ago,” he says.

“However, the skills, tools and techniques which help the disabled lead a better life are not there. More time and energy needs to be invested in helping them build their skills so that they are most
independent and there is less pressure on the system,” he adds.

Basavaraj informs that as per the Persons with Disabilities Act, every building has to be disabled-friendly failing which the builders should either be fined or not given the certificate.

“However, this is hardly followed. Most people think it’s expensive to make a place disabled-friendly. But someone has to work things out considering the fact that any accessible building, be it a bus stand or temple, is used by 15 per cent of the population,” he points out.

An authorisation body or a public-private partnership would be helpful too, he feels.

Syed Irfan, who has had polio since the age of five, finds most of the policemen in the City good-natured.

“They allow us to park without any problem. However, the dividers on the road are a huge concern. They are too high and for a person like me with crutches, it’s impossible to cross the road,” says the young data entry operator who works with Diya Foundation.

“Even the tiled flooring in many parts of the City pose a threat,” he adds.The authorities are concerned and trying to make things better.

M Lakshminarayana, Commissioner, BBMP, says, “We are aiming to improve all the footpaths in the City for the physically-challenged. We have also introduced benches near places like Domlur and Kanteerava Stadium for them to sit on.” 

He adds, “The Tender SURE Roads that are currently under construction will have footpaths as wide as 20 feet. Even most of the BBMP buildings are disabled-friendly while we are planning to improve the ones that are not.” 

The plush spacious malls boast of swanky flooring that could be tough for the disabled to move on. Yet, many of them are working on making themselves welcoming for the disabled.

Says an employee of Phoenix MarketCity, not wishing to be named, “Our flooring is ideal for them to move on.

There are wheelchairs ramps at the main entry and exit points of the mall. The physically challenged people can even inform the security and park near the lift instead of going all the way down.”

He adds, “There are spare wheelchairs available and separate restrooms for the disabled. There is even a small hospital inside for treatment.” 

It looks like though the process of sensitisation has started, the City still has a long way to go before becoming completely disabled-friendly.

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