Now another heritage site, Maquinez Palace, Panaji becomes accessible

Dear Friends,

Maquinez Palance, Panaji has become another Heritage site to become accessible, this time with the efforts of Goa Disability Rights Association and the Govt’s pro-active support to provide accessibility.

Congratulations to Mr. Avelino D’Sa, The President of DRAG and his team for their perseverence and achieving this success in making yet another site accessible to all!

Here is the coverage, To read from source click here.

regards

SC Vashishth, Program Coordinator, Svayam

Maquinez palace gets lift for disabled

PANAJI: Chief minister Digambar Kamat on Thursday inaugurated a special lift for specially challenged people at the Maquinez palace, Panaji.

The lift will help specially challenged people to view movies in the two theatres in the Maquinez palace during the upcoming International Film Festival of India.

Talking to the media after inaugurating the lift, Kamat said, “The facility will benefit disabled persons and specially challenged children to gain access to the theatres in the Maquinez palace. Specially challenged persons were demanding the installation of this lift and now they are satisfied. It will give them an opportunity to watch movies here.”

Avelino D’Sa, president of Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG), also expressed satisfaction at the installation of the lift. “We have been fighting for this for a long time. It is not only during IFFI that we come here, but we attend functions all through the year. INOX is also being made disabled friendly,” D’Sa said.

D’Sa said other government buildings, streets and buses are still not made disabled friendly and that DRAG was working to bring about changes there. Officials from Graand Prix elevators, who installed the special lift at a cost of Rs 19 lakh, said the lift is aesthetically better than normal lifts and can be installed without making any structural changes to the building. This was especially important in Maquinez palace as it is a heritage building.

Svayam’s Efforts bore fruits: Hotels to become disabled friendly

Dear All,

Svayam’s association with Min. of Tourism has finally brought some positive indications. After institution of Award for “Most accessible Tourist Destination/Hotel”,  now Ministry of Tourism has revised its guidelines for hotel classification making it mandatory for all classes of hotels to facilitate access and stay for visitor with disabilties.

Svayam had conducted first workshop on Accessible Tourism for Min. of Tourism, Govt. of India on 23 October 2008 which was well received by the then Secretary Tourism-Mr. S. Banerjee, IAS and the participants included Architects, Engineers and Officers from MOT, Tourism departments of various states, State tourism development Corporations and ASI etc.

Later, Svayam hosted a Conference on Accessible Transportation and Tourism in Delhi during March 2009 wherein the Secretary Tourism had inaugurated the Conference and declared that MOT will not release grants to any project unless accessibility for the disabled visitors was included as an essential feature in the project.

Besides this, Svayam has been involved in a regular exercise of training Owners of Budget Hotels/Guest Houses in and around Delhi on Facilities for guests with disabilities and those with reduced mobility in the hotels. These workshops are being conducted at IHM, Pusa on an ongoing basis to cover all hotels around Delhi in a phased manner through a joint initiative of MOT, Govt. of India  and Licencing Branch of Delhi Police.

Svayam is also a member on Core Committee on Accessible Tourism constituted by Min. of Tourism, Govt. of India It is also a member on TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) to conduct a Research Survey in India on Status of Inclusive Tourism.

Svayam provided detailed guidelines to MOT during the first workshop held in October 2008 which have now been included in to the Ministry guidelines for hotel classification.  A  manual on How to make a hotel/Restaurant Accessible to all that intends to help Hospitality Industry by providing detailed guidelines to make their services and properties accessible to all, was uploaded on Svayam website and is available to all for free downloading.

This has been only possible due to pro-active approach followed by Min. of Tourism, Govt. of India and committed support of Svayam. We congratulate Min. of Tourism on this initiative.

regards

Svayam Team

Here is the news article on the subject:

Hotels to be disabled-friendly Nandini R Iyer,

Hindustan Times , September 2010,

A disabled person will be able to check into any hotel classified between One and Five Stars with relative ease. The Tourism Ministry has revised guidelines for hotel classification making it mandatory for all classes of hotels to facilitate basic access and stay for disabled people. In addition, some more facilities have been made mandatory for Three, Four and Five Star hotels.

All hotels higher than ground plus two floors will have to have a 24×7 lift and where local laws do not permit this, establishments will have to provide “easy access for differently abled guests,” say the new guidelines.

Each hotel classified between One and Five Stars will have to have at least one room for disabled guests. These rooms will have to have a minimum door width of one metre for wheelchair access, low height furniture, low peephole, cupboards with sliding doors and low clothes hanging rods. The guidelines require that such rooms have audible and visible (blinking lights) alarm systems.

Compliance is mandatory by September 1 next year. A most basic facility, which India’s disabled community has been fighting for — ramps with anti-slip floors — are also mandatory now. The ministry has insisted that in Five Star and Five Star Deluxe hospitals there must be free access to all public areas and at least one restaurant.

These two categories of hotels will also have to provide at least one telephone for public calls at a height of two feet. All hotels have been told to provide wheelchair-friendly bathrooms with “suitable fixtures like low wash basin, low height toilet and grab bars”.

Public restrooms will have to have low height urinals in all hotels. All hotels will need to have wheelchairs available to disabled guests free of charge and provide “exclusively earmarked parking facilities nearest to the entrance for disabled guests”.

Disability Advocates demand access to Bus Depots in Gujarat

Gujrat has taken lead in developing socially inclusive infrastructure like BRT and Metro and the pace of growth is quite remarkable. However, it necessary that the existing bus Q shelters are also retrofitted with barrier free features to enable passengers experiencing disabilities to use these services on an equal basis with others. Also the existing fleet needs to be gradually replaced with accessible buses with proper access from Bus Depots and Q shelters.

Gujarat has set successful examples of Public private Partnership and there is no reason why PPP can be availed to improve accessibility at GRSTC BUS Depts!

regards

Subhash Chandra Vashishth

Click here to read from source

Funds crunch makes GRSTC bus depots disabled-unfriendly
29 Jun 2009, 0049 hrs IST, TNN

Gandhinagar : Of the 125 Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) bus depots in the state, facilities for the physically-challenged at 104 are missing. A slope which is mandatory at each bus stop to facilitate the differently-abled board the vehicle comfortably is not in place.

GSRTC officials say it is the dearth of funds which a big hurdle in providing such facilities.

The matter was taken up recently by the Disability Advocacy Group during a meeting with RM Patel, principal secretary, labour and employment department, who also holds the additional charge of disabled commissioner. The representatives of the group demanded that there should be an adequate arrangement for the physically-challenged to get into a bus easily and get down from them as well.

During the meeting, PK Patel, chief traffic & commercial manager, said there were slopes at 21 bus depots for the physically-challenged. He added at the remaining 104 depots, there was no provision for slopes and fund crunch was a big hindrance. The commissioner directed GSRTC to allocate funds and set a deadline for making slopes at all these depots.

Pradeep Anjaria, a commuter, said, “The buses are designed in such a manner that it becomes difficult for the physically-challenged to get inside them. The entrance of these buses are L-shaped and hence they cannot board the bus easily.”

He said in absence of a slope, one has to first lift the physically-challenged person and take him on the platform and then take his wheelchair in. They also find it difficult to get into a bus as there is no separate lane for them to board a bus.

Ranjit Gohil, who was present at the meeting, said, “The physically-challenged are provided host of facilities in many countries. But in India, laws are not enforced properly. One needs to ensure implementation of these laws without fail.”

Gohil said the situation of the railways is no better. He has filed a complaint against the railways stating that it does not have any facility for physically-challenged passengers to move from platform 1 to 12. He said there is a slope for entry to platform 1 only. The lifts which are installed at the platforms are mostly out of order, he pointed out.
 

Svayam to work with Tourism Ministry for Accessibility at Heritage Sites

Dear Friends,

Here is a recent coverage on MoT inviting Svayam to help Ministry to make more World Heritage Sites accessible.

No access for barriers at heritage sites

Nivedita Khandekar , Hindustan Times New Delhi, April 26, 2009

After Qutub Minar, the other two World Heritage Monuments in the national capital — Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb — would be made barrier-free on par with international standards.
Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, said plans are afoot to make all tourist places, especially heritage sites, accessible for all ahead of the Commonwealth Games. “NGO Svayam has worked at Qutub Minar to make it accessible for all and I have positive feedback on it. So we have invited the NGO to be part of the Ministry’s core team,” he said.

When asked the need for re-doing work at places like Humayun’s Tomb, which are already disabled friendly, Banerjee said, “We are conducting an audit for the same. There is scope for improvement.” The Ministry will provide the funds needed for the job, he added.

Svayam Director Abha Negi said, “We have already conducted and submitted an accessibility audit for the Red Fort and would be carrying out a similar exercise for Humayun’s Tomb in the coming weeks.”

“Making a heritage site disabled-friendly is not enough. It needs to be accessible for all, including the aged, pregnant women and even obese people,” she said.

“Beginning with the heritage monuments frequented most by tourists, we would be working towards making all heritage monuments in the city accessible for everyone,” she added.

Sujit Banerjee had recently announced at a conference that his Ministry has been pro-active in taking initiatives for inclusive tourism and to ensure that not just heritage sites but all public places frequented by tourists, like airports and hotels, would be made accessible for all.

The NGO is also working closely with the Ministry for similar efforts at the Taj Mahal and the Jalianwala Bagh.

Source: Hindustan Times 

The Hindu covers Launch of Svayam Portal: 01 October 2000

A website for disabled

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, OCT. 01, 2000.

Though a small step towards helping the disabled people reap the benefits of Internet, a non-governmental portal was launched by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr. Digvijay Singh, at a function here today.

Providing an interactive platform for the disabled to voice their opinion, concerns and hopes, the website svayam.com claims to act as a bridge between the disabled and over 2,500 institutions working for the cause to improve quality of life of physically and mentally challenged people. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Singh hoped that the website would go a long way in helping the cause of the disabled.

“The aim is to provide information regarding education, rehabilitation, vocational training, employment, legal and other such issues to the disabled and their families to enable them to be aware of the avenues available to them,” said Ms. Sminu Jindal, the brain behind the website. Physically challenged, Ms. Jindal is the director of the Saw Pipes.

According to Mr. Indresh Batra who has developed the site, svayam.com would soon have large text option for people with low vision and voice enabled sections. The portal would soon be available in different languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Marathi, Gujarati and Malayalam.

“In the next phase the portal would also offer services like on-line shopping centre, on-line bookings and e-payment,” he said.

Source: The Hindu