Most government buildings are not disabled friendly

‘Even though they have ramps, they are not accessible’

August 23, 2019 10:04 pm | Updated 10:04 pm IST


For S. Ganesan (name changed on request), a branch librarian with locomotor disability, attending the monthly meeting at the District Central Library in Simmakkal has become a nightmare. With no lift or ramp facility available at the library, Mr. Ganesan with a great struggle heaves and climbs 32 steps to reach the office on the second floor. “After climbing eight steps, I usually take a break to catch my breath,” he says.

With no or few facilities made for the differently abled, many government offices in the city remain inaccessible to them. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, says that all public spaces, including government buildings, must have infrastructure to make them accessible to the differently abled.

While most of the buildings have ramps, they are not accessible, says S. Boopathy, president, Tamil Nadu Physically Handicapped Associations’ Service Federation.

The ramp at the Corporation office in Anna Maligai is narrow and cannot accommodate a wheelchair. The one at the Tallakulam Head Post Office lacks handrails.

The ramp present at District Differently Abled Welfare Office (DDWO) is too steep and is difficult to use, he says. “The differently abled stand a risk of falling as the wheelchairs descend at a faster pace,” Mr. Boopathy said.

Most of the buildings do not have wheelchairs for easy access of the differently abled within the premises, say activists.

Many government buildings do not have disabled friendly toilets. “Every day I have to wait till I reach home to attend nature's call,” says a differently abled official at District Employment Office.

R. Mohana Priya, a differently abled woman, says that after protests new disabled-friendly toilets were constructed near the premises of DDWO. “However, the toilets are inaccessible as cars and two-wheelers are usually parked in front of the toilet,” says Ms. Mohana Priya. Activists also complain that there are no disabled friendly toilets present at the Collectorate.

Many of the differently abled people also say that drinking water cans at accessible points must also be provided for them.

Mr. Boopathy says that other facilities like signboards, audio-visual signage, and Braille tactile signs to help the visually-challenged must also be present at the government offices.

An official from the DDWO says that steps are taken in a phased manner to implement the provisions of the Act and he said that new buildings had been instructed to provide facilities to make the buildings accessible to the differently abled.

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