Centre releases draft guidelines to make Railways more user-friendly for persons with disabilities

The draft proposes website with flexible design interface, accessible entry and exit points, dedicated parking areas, creating unobstructed zones on platforms and integration of accessible features in new coaches

December 30, 2023 09:20 pm | Updated 09:29 pm IST - New Delhi

The guidelines call for accessible entry and exit points, ramps and handrails at railway stations.

The guidelines call for accessible entry and exit points, ramps and handrails at railway stations. | Photo Credit: B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

The government has released draft guidelines on accessibility of railway stations, facilities in trains for persons with disabilities, highlighting the need for integrating technology-enabled features such as text-to-speech and user-friendly pictograms.

The Department of the Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) has asked stakeholders and the public to give their comments, objections and suggestions by January 29 on the proposed guidelines to create a more user-friendly environment.

The proposed guidelines also highlight the need for dedicated website features catering to persons with disabilities, ensuring a flexible and accessible interface design. These features will follow universal design principles and World Wide Web Consortium guidelines, integrating technology-enabled accessibility features such as text-to-speech and user-friendly pictograms, the draft guidelines state.

Dedicated mobile app

The draft includes the development of a dedicated mobile app and a one-click template for persons with disabilities displaying all the information and facilities available for them at stations as well in trains.

For inclusivity, credible announcements regarding facilities for PwDs will be integrated into public announcement systems at train stations and platforms. This includes sign language, captioning, and digital displays, the draft guidelines suggested.

Standardised illuminated signage across all stations, coupled with Braille signage, has also been proposed. Frontline staff will be trained in sign language to ensure effective communication, these stated.

The guidelines call for accessible entry and exit points, ramps and handrails. Designated accessible parking areas with clear signage are recommended for the convenience of differently-abled individuals.

Low-height ticket counters with accessibility signage and accessible help booths manned by "Divyangjan Sahayaks" are proposed to enhance the overall accessibility experience, the draft guidelines state.

Accessible features

The guidelines placed emphasis on creating unobstructed zones on platforms, incorporating tactile guiding blocks, and providing accessible toilets, drinking water booths, and foot-over bridges. Accessible lifts at platforms and well-coordinated lighting systems are outlined in the guidelines.

Integration of accessible features in new train coaches, prominent signage, Braille coach numbers, and contrasting colours for exteriors are recommended and inclusive coach interiors with accessible toilets and seating arrangements are also part of the proposed guidelines.

The existing system of station inspections by multi-disciplinary committees will continue to monitor PwD-friendly facilities. Feedback mechanisms through complaint books, websites, and mobile apps are introduced to actively engage the public in improving accessibility standards.

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