“…I don’t want the future generations of people with disabilities to experience an India that does not include them.” – Javed Abidi, Famous Disability Rights Activist
The way society perceives individuals with disabilities has changed dramatically over the past decades. Legal frameworks have been put in place to promote social, economic, and educational status for the specially abled. More notably, private and government sector institutions and employers have taken initiatives to empower them and give them the same opportunities as others.
The plight of disabled individuals in India
In India, People With Disabilities (PWDS) have lesser access to necessities like accessible prescription drugs and educational materials. The issue of restricted access to public spaces is an eye-opening illustration of how PWDs are subjected to discrimination. Public areas like hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, airports, train stations, etc., lack the amenities required to cater to them. Insufficiency of height-adjustable exam tables in health facilities for patients with physical disabilities, a shortage of Braille or concise signposts for those with vision or hearing impairments, an absence of well-lit, obstruction-free pathways for those with impaired vision, a lack of adequately built ramps, and slippery or irregular surfaces, are common.
The need to eliminate barriers in our society
Society must remove the obstacles that disabled people face and accept them as equitable and respected community members. Even while we are trying to be more inclusive, there is a long way to go. Very few significant steps have been made to herald fairness in the case of disabled individuals. We need to make laws fair, just, humane, and equitable so that PWDs can lead comfortable life.
Suggestions for removing barriers in public spaces
Here are a few things we can do as a society to support people with disabilities:
- Making public entrances accessible by implementing the required accessible guidelines. More particularly, they must be designed wide enough to pass comfortably by wheelchairs and large enough to allow the wheelchairs to turn around once inside.
- There must be at least three to five parking spaces near the entrance for people with special needs. This must be made very obvious by displaying the wheelchair sign, the world’s universal sign of handicap.
- Stairs should be marked with a broad yellow line to help the blind recognise the difference in gradient.
- Passengers should be given accurate information on the specifics of their flight or train, including the gate number for boarding, via public announcement systems at locations like airports, railway stations, etc.
- Pictograms must be posted close to elevators and other crucial locations, such as restrooms.
- Proper training must be given to staff members employed in public spaces so they may comprehend the particular range of challenges that disabled individuals encounter.
The government has set strong regulations for public spaces, including hotels, taxis, and other establishments, all governed by stringent guidelines and standards about providing accessibility, facilities, and equal treatment for the disabled. It may take a lot of time and be technically challenging; however, it is imperative that we make the world inclusive for everyone with every additional effort.