Accessibility in Communication

People with accessibility barriers, especially those with reduced mobility, reduced ability perceived in the form of reduced hearing , face major hurdles when it comes to communication.

This communication spans over physical environment, online form of communication whether it is web accessibility or communication while transportation, at educational institutions or public offices.

All audiences gain from accessible communication because it makes information plain, straightforward, and understandable. It takes into account the numerous obstacles to information access and offers options to everyone.

There are a number of aspects where access in communication can be practised with ease whether it is

 public libraries

– Communication between people

– Documents available to the public

– sites and tools and/or services available on the internet

– Videos

– Educational institutions

– Railway, airports, bus stands etc.

– Public parks etc.

– Tutorials that lead you through the process

– Surveys and testing carried out online

– The use of a telephone

– Use of online forums and communities

There are a number of ways in which communication can be made more accessible-

  • Using audio cues
  • Employing braille signage for easier communication
  • Use a variety of media and text to appeal to a wide range of learners.
  • For digital photographs, make sure to always utilise alternative tags that describe the image
  • Web accessibility using a number of international standards would allow for a greater number of people to interact and learn.

Accessibility in the changing times

Accessibility simply means — “the ability to be accessed or reached”

Accessibility can be practiced in a number of aspects including design and infrastructure, products of both personal and public use, public and private services, web applications and designs.

The notion highlights the importance of facilitating access for people with reduced mobility and different abilities through better planning, universal designs including the use of technology.

Barrier Free Design

It is an approach towards creating spaces that can be used by a maximum number of people. A barrier free infrastructure involves using a number of measures that makes it safe and accessible. It includes

– incorporation of ramps appropriate for walking and wheeling in public and private spaces

– Using proper signage

– Using guiding blocks on the floor to guide those with reduced visual abilities

– Instructions in Braille

– Accessible hospital designs, water cooler designs and more!

Accessibility isn’t simply for those who have major impairment but also includes children, pregnant women, senior citizens etc.

reduced ability is a global public health issue — it affects one in seven people worldwide. Everyone is as likely to experience some or other form of reduced ability at some point in our lives. Therefore accessibility is helpful for all of us and not just a particular section of the community.

Neither is accessibility limited to the physical world — it also includes web accessibility.

Which includes websites, tools, and technology that are created and developed in such a way that individuals with disabilities can use them. People can perceive, interpret, navigate, and engage with the web easily, as well as contribute.

SVAYAM’s mission is to promote accessibility and a barrier free physical and online world. A Hindi word for “Self”, It’s mission is to promote self reliance and self — sufficiency by crafting universal designs.

Accessible Vaccination Drives By Svayam

A fair and equitable access to immunisation can be a challenge for those with reduced mobility. Due to lack of barrier free centres, resources, information, mode of conveyance- it can be a significant undertaking for them to get immunised safely.

Svayam is proud of its initiative that challenges inaccessibility and discrimination present pertaining to reduced mobility. Svayam ensured accessible and barrier free immunisation drives and provided for 9 out of 11 Government Of India’s vaccination centres for people with reduced mobility.

68% of the total population with reduced mobility which was vaccinated in Delhi was carried through Svayam’s initiative of Accessible Immunisation.
The vaccination centres were designed to be barrier free including suitable vans for transport, ramps, and other facilities that ensured safety for those with reduced mobility.

The convenient vans for conveyance with wheelchairs and other necessary equipment were an essential safeguard.

Necessary measures in terms of design and commute were combined with audits. Conducting audits at regular intervals at various vaccination centres of Delhi to improve upon the present infrastructure and services — to make it more accessible. The audits have allowed for an increase in the number of people registering and walking in for vaccination through our accessible drive.

With an objective to reach a large number of people with reduced mobility and ability — Svayam has raised awareness for the mission through online and conventional print media platforms.

After being largely successful and helpful in the capital, the empowering vision of accessibility and immunisation together will next target a free pan-India vaccination drive with an aim to spread the same message in the remotest of areas.

What is reduced mobility and how it is different than disability

A “person with disability” is a person who has a long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairment that, when combined with barriers, prevents him from participating fully and effectively in a community on an equal footing with others.

  1. Physical Disability

a person’s inability to perform specific activities related to movement of self and objects as a result of musculoskeletal or nervous system disease, or both and it includes cerebral palsy, dwarfism, muscular dystrophy, acid attack victims, leprosy cured person.

  1. Visual impairment. “Blindness” means a condition where a person has any of the following problems, after correction total absence of sight; or visual acuity less than 3/60 or less than 10/200 (Snellen) in the better eye with best possible correction; or limitation of the field of vision.
  2. Hearing Impairment — “Deaf” is a persom persons having 70 DB hearing loss in speech frequencies in both the ears
  3. Intellectual disability — It includes autism spectrum disorder, and specific learning problems
  4. Mental illness
  5. Neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis are all part of disability
  6. Blood disorders like haemophilia, thalassemia

Reduced movement on the other hand means temporary or permanent loss in locomotor abilities that prevents a person from being an equal part in the society. Reduced mobility can be experienced by anybody including senior citizens, pregnant women, children and those who’re differently abled.

Its an inckusive term for all !

Accessible Education

Education is one of the most basic and powerful resources especially for a nation that is developing. It builds the future society in an altogether different manner.

Various forms of impediments continue to obstruct educational involvement of children with reduced mobility or different abilities. The obstacles include

  1. Inaccessible transportation to school
  2. inaccessible school facilities such as drinking water units
  3. mid-day meal areas
  4. Inaccessible restroom in terms of infrastructure
  5. inappropriate classroom furniture
  6. slippery flooring
  7. insufficient illumination and ventilation
  8. Inaccessible conveyance and teaching modalities

All of which can severely hamper the learning process.

During accessibility audits conducted in 500 schools across 16 Indian states from 2012 to 2014, it was discovered that school infrastructure was often inaccessible and unsafe for children with reduced mobility due to a lack of expertise and understanding of accessibility standards among construction personnel and school administration. This made it difficult for them to be safe and access and use classrooms, playgrounds, libraries, drinking water units, toilets, mid-day meal areas, and other facilities.

Access can be ensured in school areas through-

  1. Proper clearance areas in entry and exit points
  2. Use of safe ramps with proper width, installed with anti skid tiles and railing to ensure safe mode of travel for walking and wheeling alike
  3. Toilets that are made with proper space and allows easy use for those with reduced mobility
  4. Furniture that can be adjusted according to the height of the students
  5. Guiding blocks to ensure that those with visual and locomotor impairment can safely navigate the school premises
  6. Drinking water units that are of appropriate height to be accessed by the students
  7. Constant audits to ensure improvement etc.

Simple yet significant measures including infrastructure, audits, services — can prove to be absolutely helpful for children with reduced mobility, something which is need of the hour!

How can we help people with reduced mobility?

People with reduced mobility and ability face the most difficulties even in the most basic aspects of day to day living. From running daily errands to fulfill their own needs to obtaining education and enabling themselves for a better future — there’s a hurdle that they need to overcome in order to live an independent life with dignity. But there are a number of ways in which we can help not just a particular section of the community but the entire society and enable them to live a self-sufficient life.

  1. Raising awareness — Attitudinal awareness can prove to be a transformative change for people living with reduced mobility. The attitude of people living in the society can be restraining and prevent them from living life to the fullest. Therefore raising awareness about the same has proven to not only normalise it but promote accessibility.
  2. Build accessible infrastructure- building accessible infrastructure both private and public is imperative for a truly accessible community. It allows people to access places of education, income, and healthcare with ease. An inclusive society includes all of these.
  3. Accessible transportation- Transportation in the modern world is extremely important for people to live the modern life. Any means of transportation that is not accessible can be an obstacle for those with reduced mobility or ability. Transportation can be made more accessible by including audio cues, Trail signage, guided parts et cetera that will allow people to commute with you whether it is to their workplace for educational premises for banks et cetera in this way we can surely ensure that accessibility is present not just within a city or a nation but in between them as well!

Health for people with reduced mobility

In the rapidly growing urban times health is a major concern for all. With the COVID pandemic — major rift between healthcare and accessibility has been highlighted. Whether it’s the vaccine distribution, treatment purveyed by government and private bodies or emergency therapies- there’s lack of accessibility in virtually all aspects of the healthcare system.

A large number of people do not have access to healthcare leave alone accessible healthcare. This is where the challenge crops up in providing quality healthcare at the right price to people who need it. A majority of people across the global population have reduced mobility at some point of time in their lives or another whether it is the elderly, pregnant women or those facing Intellectual disability for example cerebral palsy — gaining access to the most basic healthcare can be a challenge.

Partly Because of lack of accessible infrastructure, lack of a significant number of healthcare workforce , accessible vaccination, treatment and cost of dispensing medication.

Making healthcare accessible is a multistep process that would require transforming the entire system one part at a time and it would include-

  1. Accessible infrastructure — creating healthcare infrastructure that allows for equitable access. This includes accessible hospitals, vaccination centres, pharmacy — following the rules of universal design.
  2. Creating policies that promote accessibility in terms of helping those with reduced mobility would allow for a larger percentage of people to lead a healthier life thus a community that’s truly healthy and immunised.
  3. Empowering organisations that work towards accessibility in the healthcare world.
  4. Special provisions for people with reduced mobility for continuous health checkup and free of cost equipments that will allow them to engage more freely.

What is an Environment Of Inclusion

Inclusion is where each person is made part of the environment in an equal way. All the services, products in the present environment doesn’t exclude anyone in terms of usability and accessibility.

Environment of inclusion is especially crucial for growing kids, people with reduced mobility, pregnant women, elderly , people who have reduced ability etc.

What does environment of inclusion truly includes

  • Environment of inclusion in the most basic physical terms would involve creating a physical world that poses no inaccessibility challenge to any person especially for those with reduced mobility. It involves incorporating universal designs at virtually all places from education institutions, bus stations, railway stations, airports, public markets, parking areas, hospitals, government buildings, banka etc. This inclusive environment would esnure that each person is promised self independence, and is able to live their life with dignity.
  • Attitudinal awareness — An inclusive environment is not only composed of accessible, universal designs but it also involves the attitude of people living in that particular environment. One of the major hurdles that people with reduced mobility or ability face is not just from inaccessible designs, services but also because of the attitude of their peers whether it’s co-workers at the workplace or family members or people living in that particular community. Therefore it’s imperative to raise more awareness about how our behaviours and attitudes can bring about a major change in the lives of people with reduced mobility.

Creating a change through laws — to implement universal designs, accessible environment that includes everybody in virtually all aspects of the society it is important to seal the change through laws that are implemented and regulated.