The ministry of social justice and empowerment on Monday announced the Accessible India campaign. To be unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 3, World Disability Day, the function will also witness the annualNational Disability awards given out to outstanding names from the disabled community.
Apart from that, the ministry in collaboration with NFDC, also announced a film festival for the disabled. To be held between December 1 and December 3, the festival will open with acclaimed animator Gitanjali Rao’s film, which has been made specially for the film festival.
With the Accessible India campaign, the government envisions to have an inclusive society in which equal opportunities and access is provided for the growth and development of persons with disabilities to lead productive, safe and dignified lives, said secretary Lov Verma. The campaign will focus on three verticals: built environment; public transportation and information and communication technologies.
As part of the campaign, 50 government buildings in 20 tier one cities and 25 in 20 tier-two cities will be made disabled-friendly by July 2016, by making ramps, lifts and accessible lifts. All the 18 international airports will be made disabled friendly by July 2016, while the remaining 78 domestic airports will be completed by March 2018.
In railways, by July 2016, five major stations with the most footfall will be made disabled friendly, while 50% of all railway stations will be made friendly by March 2018. 10% of India’s public transport will be made disabled-friendly by March 2018, while 50% of government websites will be made disabled friendly by March 2018, along with 50% of all public documents. A crowdsourcing initiative and an app will also be launched.
“We will work with the I&B ministry so that public programmes on TV have captions and text-to-speech options. We will also train 200 sign language interpreters by March, 2018,” said Verma. “We will also work with the HRD ministry to come up with inclusive education schemes. There is also a new university in the offing.”
Apart from Bollywood names like Gulzar, Meghna Gulzar, Kabir Khan, Sanjay Suri and Harshali, the film festival, to be held at Delhi’s Siri Fort Auditorium will also have in attendance Beijing Film Festival director Marco Mueller, Jayshree Raveendran, Aamir Bashir Rajesh Jala, Siddharth Kak and Arun Chadha as the festival’s jury.
According to Census 2011, there are 2.68 crore persons with disabilities in India, who constitute 2.21% of the total population. However, estimates vary across sources and in reality this figure could be much higher. India is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (UNCRPD). Article 9 of UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.