The PwD Act and accessibility in India
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
What mention does Access have in the Act
Chapter V - Education
Governments to provide free education to disabled children till they attain the age of 18 years.
Section 30 of his Chapter says provisions will be made to:
- Transport facilities to the children with disabilities or in the alternative financial incentives to parents or guardians to enable their children with disabilities to attend schools.
- The removal of architectural barriers from schools. colleges or other institution, imparting vocational and professional training;
Chapter VI - Employment
Sub Section 1(d) of Section 38 talks about
- “Health and safety measures and creation of a non-handicapping environment in places where persons with disabilities are employed.”
Chapter VIII - Non Discrimination
This chapter focuses on non-discrimination towards persons with disabilities in various areas. This is the Chapter that covers access issues at large. In sections 44 to 46, it coves issues pertaining to
- accessibility to public transport including buss, trains and air travel
- Accessinility in pedistrian environment with mention of curb cuts, engraving on the surface of the zebra crossing, engraving on the edges of railway platforms, and warning signals at appropriate places.
- Access to public buidings by providing ramps, Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts;
Lacune of the Act
- Accessibility is not provided as a matter of right but as a add on based on the economic capacity of the provider. (“…within the limits of their economic capacity & development…”)
- It is discriminatory in itself as it applies only to the government & public sector. The Act does not even apply to all public use buildings such as theatres, restaurants etc.
- The terms Accessibility, non discrimination or even Public Building have not been defined in the Act.
- There are no designated accessibility standards, leaving all to have their own personal criteria.
- The specific guidance on accessibility in the non discrimination section narrows down the focus to only certain aspects of physical accessibility. It fails to consider access to services and information
- Lack of any phases and timeframes & extremely poor recourse mechanism
- There are no measurables to chart the progress or the direction being taken
- It fails to give direction for polices and regulations that are drafted by other ministries.
- Accessibility has to be a matter of right and not linked to any issuse such as .....economic capacity
- The Act must provide clear defination of Non Discrimination, Accessibility and public buildings
- The Act must include access to information and communication
- Inclusion of PwD must be crucial to any public spending
- The Act must give fixed timeframes and a layed out procedure for monitoring
- Punitive action to be taken for non compliance
- National Accessibility Standards to be drafted and made applicable all over the country