The Government of India has identified 1,707 old buildings housing its offices in 50 cities, for being retro-fitted to be disabled-friendly, said Union Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PwD), Navreet Kang.
About 1,600 of them were inspected by the concerned agencies and a budget of over ₹20 lakh was sanctioned for the purpose by the Centre, he informed presspersons on the sidelines of ‘Accessibility Summit India’ organised at the Microsoft India Development Centre here on Tuesday.
“Building permission for all new offices will be given only if they are disabled-friendly with ramps to help differently-abled wheel themselves up, convenient toilets and the like. Local bodies will be responsible for monitoring them, in tune with the harmonised guidelines that were issued,” he said.
While the number of PwD was estimated to be 2.68 crore according to the 2011 Census, they could be much more, he said. Also, those with learning and intellectual disabilities, acid attack victims and those with blood disorders were now brought under the gamut of the PwD Act, as per the amendments made.
Mr. Kang said the department’s country-wide target included making 10% of public transport easily accessible to the differently-abled and retro-fitting all the 1,707 government buildings by October next as part of ‘Accessibility India’.
“The Railways have made a beginning, having ramps, toilets and water taps at A1, A and B class stations tailor-made for them,” he said. At least 1,000 websites of the government departments were being made disabled-friendly, using colour contrast and bigger font sizes and GIGW (General Instructions for Government Websites) were issued, he said.
Associate General Counsel and Accessibility Lead at Microsoft India, Madhu Khatri, said the first-of-its-kind summit was aimed at showcasing initiatives of different companies, including start-ups, in coming up with disabled-friendly programmes, largely in the software space.
Others present included Secretaries, Government of Telangana, Jayesh Ranjan (IT) and M. Jagadeeswar (Disabled Welfare) and Founder & CEO of Sarthak Educational Trust, Jitender Aggrawal.
A hall on the Microsoft campus was earmarked for different companies to showcase their disabled-friendly products. They included those developed by organisations like Enability Foundation for Rehabilitation, Avaz Inc. and Innovision, Tactograph, Digital Assistance in Braille language, Microsoft’s Office 365, learning tools for those with dyslexia and One Note.