- Accessible India Campaign or Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan is a program which is set to be launched to serve the differently-ablecommunity of the country.
- The initiative also in line with the Article 9 of UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) to which India is a signatory since 2007.
- The scheme also comes under Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 under section 44, 45, 46 for equal Opportunities and protection of rights which provides non-discrimination in Transport to Persons with Disabilities.
Target under Accessible India Campaign
- According to the 2011 Census of India, 2.21 per cent of the population or approximately 26.8 million Indians suffer from a disability.
- The target is to make at least fifty percent government buildings disabled friendly under the campaign in each of the state capital and central capital till end of May 2018.
- And to make 25 per cent of the public transport vehicles under government as disabled friendly till mid-2017.
- It also envisages further development with bigger targets in the following years.
- In this way, the overall environment becomes more inclusive and provides equal opportunities to the PWD.
- A website will also be made where the people can put their views on the accessibility of any building.
- By July 2016, the international airports in the country and railway stations which come under A1, A and B categories will be made fully disabled-friendly.
- Special set-top boxes will be made available to make watching TV more convenient for the visually impaired.
- In the next 5 years, almost 200 persons will be trained to speak in sign languages on government TV channels.
- Government websites will also be made more friendly by using text to speech option.
- The initiative involves retrofitting buildings, framing such standards for new buildings and transport that they are friendly to the differently-abled.
- Auditing private companies on ‘accessibility index’ standard and making all government websites friendly to the differently-abled.
- A ”Sugamya Bharat” mobile app which can provide information on disabled-friendly public facilities in a city, will be launched under the scheme.
Critical appraisal of Accessible India Campaign
- It is indeed an appreciable initiative by the government of India to provide barrier free environment to the citizens irrespective of their disabilities.
- The milestone initiative is taken towards creating an inclusive society. However, the campaign should not be limited only to the government buildings which constrict the scope as well as benefits of the program.
- All the private sector hospitals, schools and educational institutions should be included in the purview of the program, without which the purpose of the campaign will be minuscule.
- Among the various issues faced on day to day basis by the differently abled, most pertinent problems they confront in both rural as well as urban areas are transportation issues.
- Most means of transportation available to us today are completely non-disabled friendly.
- This acts as one of the biggest impediments in connecting the disabled with the mainstream population which should be taken care of by improving their accessibility.
- When it comes to providing barrier free access, enhancing the accessibility of the public toilets becomes the first and foremost priority considering the abysmal nature of the public toilets in terms of accessibility and the great amount of efforts required either by the disabled person himself or by their family members in order to make them use it.
- In this regard, it is imperative to create more infrastructure and all the public toilets should be made accessible to the differently abled.
- Keeping the safety issues in mind, disabled friendly KIOSKs should be established in large shopping malls.
- The boards used for roads, offices and showing direction should be disabled friendly.
- We hope the Government will include people from the Public Works Department, Nirmiti Kendra and Land Army in the implementation committees as these departments take up civil works of the Government infrastructure.
- The private sector should be encouraged both by the Government and the disabled community to make their products and services disability friendly.
- For example, private news channels could have news bulletin in sign language for the hearing impaired. This we only get to see on Doordarshan.
- Private cabs/ taxis could introduce wheelchair accessible vehicles with ramps.
- Restaurants should have their menu which is in Braille and if it is hosted on gadgets, it should be supported by software that read them out to the visually challenged customer.
Accessible India Campaign, due for a long time, is a good beginning. The success of the campaign completely depends on the level of engagement of all stakeholders imbibing the spirit from the incumbent Government’s popular slogan sabkasaath, sabkavikas.