Sunday, December 25, 2016

Invitation for National Consultation on RPWD Bill 2016 on 29-30 Dec 2016 at New Delhi

Dear Colleagues,

People's Action for Change & Empowerment (PACE)  in collaboration with Centre for Accessibility in Built Environment (CABE) invites you to a National Consultation on the RPWD Bill 2016 (Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016) scheduled to be held in New Delhi during 29-30 Dec 2016. For a copy of the New RPWD Bill 2016 passed by the Rajya Sabha here. For the benefit of blind readers, a copy of the RPWD Bill 2016 in plain text (without table) is provided here. Related documents can be accessed on the Resource Section.

Invitation Poster for the 2 Day National Consultation on Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill 2016

According to the Census of India, 2011 disabled persons accounted for 2.21% of India’s population. Of these, 20.3% have a movement-related disability, 18.9% are those with hearing disabilities and 18.8% with vision-related disabilities. The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment itself considers this figure as an under-count. The World Bank pegged the number of disabled in India to be around 80 million.

Currently, the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) (PWD) Act, 1995 specifies seven conditions as disabilities and makes special provisions for disabled persons with regard to their rehabilitation, and opportunities for employment and education.

In 2007, India became a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The UNCRPD requires signatory states to make appropriate changes in law and policy to give effect to rights of disabled persons.

Apart from the PWD Act, other laws that govern various aspects of disabilities include the Mental Health Act, 1987, the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 and the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999.

In response to the ratification of the UNCRPD, the Government decided to bring about changes in its existing legal framework. Accordingly, in 2010, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment constituted an expert committee under Dr. Sudha Kaul Vice-Chairperson, Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, Kolkata, to draft a new Bill for persons with disabilities. The committee with the help of a legal consultant Prof. Amita Dhanda (Nalsar Law University)  submitted a Draft Bill on June 30, 2011 that proposed to replace the existing Persons with Disabilities Act and addressed rights and entitlements for disabled persons. The draft Bill was extensively debated and discussed at various levels involving State Governments and Union Territories. The Committee held several State Level consultations at 30 places (28 States and 2 UTs) and also a National Consultation involving civil society representatives and consultations with legal experts. On the basis of the comments received from Central Ministries/ Departments as also the State Governments, the draft RPWD Bill was further revised and subsequently finalized in consultations with Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Department). The Union Cabinet considered the proposal of the Ministry and approved the proposed RPWD Bill, 2013 with the modification regarding exemption of National Fund from the purview of income tax (deletion of clause 102).

The Ministry further met the representatives of the cross disability groups under the banner of Joint Disabilities Forum. The issues raised by the cross disability Joint Disabilities Forum were discussed in detail in the National Advisory Council on 29.01.2014. Accordingly, the revised proposal to incorporate these amendments in the Bill was approved by the Cabinet on 06.02.2014.

The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha February 7, 2014 and the amendments thereto were circulated in the Rajya Sabha on February 11, 2014. The Bill was, thereafter, on September 16, 2014, referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment for examination and report. However, due to dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha, the Bill was re-referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment (2014-15) in the 16th Lok Sabha.

The Standing Committee chaired by Shri. Ramesh Bais presented its report to Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015 with several important recommendations. Its only in winter session of 2016, that the bill was tabled in the Parliament & both the houses passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014 with 119 amendments as 'The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016 (Rajya Sabha passed it on 14 Dec 16 and Lok Sabha on 16 Dec 16) unanimously. As we write, the Bill awaits the assent of the Hon'ble President for its notification.

Need of this consultation
Although the Bill has many good features incorporating civil, political & cultural rights & also covers a wide range of disabling conditions with power to the government to add more disabilities, yet there are many areas in the Bill that pose serious challenge as a result of omissions & dilutions. This not only that frustrates the object of the Bill - that is to give full effect to the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, but also takes away from the stakeholders what was already available to them in the earlier Act of 1995.

Many sections of the bill are also dependent on framing of comprehensive rules in order to give effect to the Bill. There are also catena of judgments passed by the different High Courts & Hon’ble Supreme Court giving wider & beneficial interpretations  of the existing PWD Act of 1995 that advanced the rights of persons with disabilities and this jurisprudence need to find its place in the Bill or in rules.  If these concerns cannot be addressed within the rules in the given framework of the bill, it may necessitate amendments in the bill to rectify the same.  
In light of above, a National Consultation on the RPWD Bill 2016 is proposed to be held during 29-30 Dec 2016 as per following details, wherein we propose to discuss each section threadbare & analyse the bill & come up with suggestions on how to plug the lacunae in the Bill that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected. The participants of the Consultation will be lawyers, activists, persons with disabilities & DPOs/ NGOs working on disability rights issues.

Venue: Gandhi Hall, Blind Relief Association, Lal Bahadur Shastri Road, New Delhi 110003 (Near Oberoi Hotel). [Locate here on Google Map
Date: 29 & 30 December 2016 
Time: 09 AM to 6 PM
Tentative Agenda 

Day – 1
Registration 9 AM – 9.30 AM
Session 0 : 9.30 AM – 10.00 AM
Introduction to RPWD Bill /Opening Remarks
Mr. AK Awasthi, Joint Secretary, DEPWD
Mr. Pankaj Sinha, Adv, PACE
Session 1 :10.00 AM – 11.30 AM
Chapter I and II  - Definitions & Right & Entitlements (1.5 Hours)

Ms. Smitha Sadasivan, DLU South/DRA
Tea break
Session 2 :11.45  AM – 1.45 PM
Chapter III & IV – Education &Skill Development & Employment (1.5 Hours)
Mr. Satish Kapoor, Brotherhood
Mr. Avinash Shahi, JNU
Mr. Ashok Agarwal,  Social Jurist
Mr. Vikas Gupta, Asst Prof. DU
Session 3 :2.30 PM – 3.45 PM
Chapter VI Benchmark Disabilities (1.5 Hrs)
Mr. Nipun Malhotra, Nipman Foundation
Tea Break
Session 4 :4.00 PM – 5.30 PM
Chapters V & VII - Social Security, Health, Rehabilitation And Recreation & High Support Needs
Ms. Sandhya Raju, Adv (Kerala)
Session 5: 9.00 AM – 11.00 AM
Chapter VIII  - Duties And Responsibilities Of Appropriate Governments
Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Adv
Mr. Rajive Raturi, Director- DRI, HRLN
Tea break
Session 6:11.30 AM – 1.00 PM
Chapter IX, X & XI – Registration of Institutions, Disability Certification & Advisory boards
Ms. Jayna Kothari, Adv  (Bangalore)
Mr. T.D. Dhariyal, Former Dy CCPD
Session 7 – 2.00 PM – 3.00 PM
Chapter XII & XIII – Chief Commissioner/ State Commissioners & Special Courts
Mr. PK Pincha, Former CCPD
Mr. Jamshed Keki Mistry, Adv (Bombay)
Mr. Pankaj Sinha, Adv
Session 8 – 3.15 PM – 4.15 PM
Chapter XIV to Chapters XVII   National Fund, Offences & Penalties & Misc.
Mr. T.D. Dhariyal, Former Dy CCPD
Ms. Tanu Bedi, Adv (Chandigarh)
Dr. Sanjay S. Jain, Associate Prof.  LS Law College, (Pune)
Tea Break
Summing Up:  4.30 PM- 5.00 PM

Mr. Pankaj Sinha, Adv
Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Adv
Press Conference: 5.00 PM - 6.00 PM

If you are interested to contribute & attend this consultation workshop, please write a mail to / and get yourself registered.

Follow on Facebook: PACE India,    CABE India

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

CABE partners for "Inclusive Cities Workshop - 2016" with JMI University, Delhi, India during [19-20 Dec 2016]

Dear Colleagues,

CABE India was a proud partner with Jamia Milia Islamia University for the "Inclusive Cities Workshop 2016" held on 19-20 December 2016 at New Delhi, India.

This workshop brought together international and national urban thought leaders and researchers to share their work in making cities inclusive. The impressive list of speakers at the Workshop included Ms. ├ůsa Vagland, Dr Sylvia Nagl, Mr. Jan Nederveen, Prof. Kotaro Nakamura, Director & Professor, School of Art + Design, San Diego State University (SDSU), California, U.S.A. Dr. Shiela Mitra Sarkar, Dr. Anvita Arora, MD & CEO, Innovative Transport Solutions (iTrans), Dr. P. Partheeban, Prof. & Dean (Academic), St. Peter’s College of Engineering and Technology, Avadi, Chennai, Dr. Sudhir Krishna, IAS, Former Secretary Urban Development, Government of India, Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Advocate Disability Rights & Founder CABE India, Dr Juin Dutta, Dr. Nalini Thakur, Professor, Architectural Conservation, SPA Delhi, Col Anuj Srivastava (Retd), visiting Faculty, Amity University among several others. Detailed list of speakers & their profile is available at Our Speakers.  
A promotional Poster of the Workshop

Designing Cities for All: It was felt that Cities could never be planned or designed in the studios. Cities are organic and the needs are often not frozen in time when the design was created. Moreover, cities around the world are facing challenges of economic downturns, climate changes, population migration from war zones and other conflicts around the world. While we stand together to provide affordable housing, education, food security, access and safety to all, we also need to be cognizant that there are limited resources that need to be used creatively and wisely. 

Dr. Sudhir Krishna, IAS, Former Secy, UD, GOI speaking
A session at the workshop in progress

Gender Friendly Cities: As women bear the burden of socio-economic disparities and the lack of access to resources force them to be entrenched in cycles of poverty, its crucial that a gender supportive infrastructure in created in urban &  rural areas. We need to create sustainable solutions for our villages & cities that reduces excessive migration from rural India. 

Walkability: Every person irrespective of social status/ economic status, is a pedestrian first. Lack of accessible & safe pedestrian facilities discourage walkability which is directly related to not just independence & road safety but also to health & active living styles. Safety, dedicated lanes & climatic conditions do play a role in promoting walking & cycling as preferred mobility options. The cities need to look at these factors too to make non-motorized transports like cycling & walking for short distance travel.

Dr. Sheila Mitra Sarkar, Dr. Kulsum Fatima & other Speakers with Mr. SC Vashishth at the Workshop
Inclusive Cities: The workshop presented an opportunity for researchers and professionals, to hear from professionals in India and around the world who have made a difference and moved towards making the concept of 'an inclusive city' a reality -a city that supports sustainable transport, conservation of resources, most importantly, access to water while empowering the under-served. The workshop also gave an opportunity to students and urban thought leaders to brainstorm and discuss how we can make cities more inclusive. Workshop speakers were researchers, lawyers, sociologists, artists, musicians, activists, community organisers and socially-conscious young professionals who have realised that our future progress depends on creating inclusive cities.

Accessibility: Persons with disabilities & seniors face acute challenges of accessibility in built environments, services, attitudes of society in every day lives, hence feel excluded. No city can be inclusive if it claims growth and development sans its elders & disabled residents. Best practices in these areas were shared & discussed. Mr. Vashishth made a detailed presentation titled "Accessibility in Built Environment for an Inclusive & Smart Habitat in India". 

A Team from AADI consisting of Mr. Muthuswami,
Ms. Darshana Khir  & others with Mr. SC Vashishth
In addition, an Access Study Tour of the University was undertaken under guidance of Mr. SC Vashishth along with user-groups from Action for Ability Development & Inclusion (AADI) for the benefit of Workshop participants. 

Join our Community Page on Facebook Page - Inclusive Cities  & CABE Foundation, India

Friday, November 04, 2016

Invitation for 'Accessibility Training Workshop for Future Professionals' during 09-12 Dec 2016 at SPA Bhopal

Dear Colleagues & Design Students,

As you must be aware, the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) was launched as a nation-wide campaign to achieve universal access for persons with disabilities (PwDs) on 03 Dec 2015 by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Govt. of India so that equal access is provided to all, irrespective of age, ability and condition. To make inclusive cities a reality, it is very important for professionals to become socially aware and develop skills to address the related issues. 

To promote the objectives of the Campaign & to encourage understanding of challenges and opportunities for universal access in Indian cities, 'Centre for Human Centric Research' (CHCR) is organising “Accessibility Training Workshop for Future Professionals” at The School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Bhopal (an ‘Institution of National Importance’, under MHRD, Govt. of India), for the students of architecture, planning, design, engineering and other related disciplines, from 9th-12th December, 2016. The workshop will give insight to universal access with focus on the implications of ability and disability on usability of the built environment, spaces, buildings, infrastructures and interfaces. 

Founder of CABE, Sh. Subhash Chandra Vashishth has also been invited to address the participants on  the Legal Framework on Accessibility and Universal Design and act as a Jury on the Design Competition.

If you are a student of architecture, planning, design, engineering or other related discipline and want to update yourself with the concepts of accessibility & universal design and want to learn its application in architecture, landscapes, heritage sites, urban design and planning, you are encouraged to register for the workshop scheduled from 09-12 December 2016. For more details visit 

Here is the poster for the event:

We are looking forward to your participation. See you at the Workshop!  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Are your tweets complying with the accessibility mandate?

Dear Accessibility enthusiasts,

We all know that accessibility of built infrastructure or environment that includes transportation infrastructure, tourism infrastructure or heritage monuments & sites, accessibility of information & communication technology & services is mandatory under the India Laws. How many of us practice it in daily lives?

Lets talk about the simplest thing such as a tweet on the Twitter. We regularly attach photos to our tweets. while blind / visually impaired users are able to read our tweets but they miss what is there in the photos that you have attached. 

The tweet with a photo also allows to tag more number people (nearly 10) on the image/photo without counting them in limited text characters allowed thereby enhancing your reach.

Therefore, it is important that all our users / contacts are able to read and know what that photo you uploaded or tagged them on contains, irrespective of their disability.

Making your tweets accessible to blind users

When you tweet photos using the Twitter app for iOS or Android, or on, you have the option to compose a description of the images so the content is accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.

Steps to enable the Compose image descriptions setting and instructions for composing image descriptions using the following:

Twitter for Android

How to enable the composition of image descriptions from Twitter for Android
  1. In the top menu, you will either see a navigation menu icon  or your profile icon. Tap whichever icon you have.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Display and sound.
  4. Tap Accessibility.
  5. Next to Compose image descriptions, tick the box to turn the setting on or off.

How to add image descriptions in Tweets from Twitter for Android
  1. Start by tapping the Tweet icon  and attach your photo(s).
  2. On the image, tap Add description to insert descriptive text.
  3. Type your description of the image and tap Apply. Tap the description again to edit it prior to posting the Tweet. (The limit is 420 characters.)
  4. You can add a description to each image in a Tweet.
    Note: Image descriptions cannot be added to GIFs or videos.

Twitter for web (

How to enable the composition of image descriptions from
  1. Go to your Settings by clicking on your profile icon and selecting Settings from the dropdown (or by pressing the “g” key quickly, followed by the “s” key).
  2. Click Accessibility from the list of settings.
  3. Find the Compose image descriptions checkbox.
  4. Check the box to turn the setting on or off.
  5. Click Save changes.

How to add image descriptions in Tweets from

  1. Click on the Tweet compose button, or press the “n” key to use the keyboard shortcut.
  2. Attach your photo(s).
  3. To insert descriptive text, open the thumbnail preview dialog by clicking on the thumbnail. (If you are using the keyboard, focus the thumbnail using the “tab” key and press the “enter” key to open the thumbnail preview dialog).
  4. Type your description of the image and click the Apply button. To edit the description, re-open the thumbnail preview dialog prior to posting the Tweet. (The limit is 420 characters.)
  5. You can add a description to each image in a Tweet.Note: Image descriptions cannot be added to GIFs or videos.


Twitter for iOS

How to enable the composition of image descriptions from Twitter for iOS
  1. Go to your Settings by tapping the Me tab and then the gear icon 
  2. Tap Display and sound.
  3. Tap Accessibility.
  4. Next to Compose image descriptions, drag the slider to turn the setting on or off.
 How to add image descriptions in Tweets from Twitter for iOS
  1. Start by tapping the Tweet icon  and attach your photo(s).
  2. On the image, tap Add description to insert descriptive text.
  3. Type your description of the image and tap Apply. Tap the description again to edit it prior to posting the Tweet. (The limit is 420 characters.)
  4. You can add a description to each image in a Tweet.
    Note: Image descriptions cannot be added to GIFs or videos.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

India takes strides to make world heritage sites accessible on this World Tourism Day

Dear colleagues,

United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has been celebrating the World Tourism Day (WTD) on September 27 since the year 1980. The statue of UNWTO was adopted on 27th September 1970 which is considered as a milestone in global tourism. 

WTD is celebrated every year to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide. Universal Access in Tourism (UAT) responds to Article 2.2 of the UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism which states: “Tourism activities should respect the equality of men and women in that they should promote human rights and, more particularly, the individual rights of the most vulnerable groups, notably children, the elderly, the handicapped, ethnic minorities and indigenous people.”

UNWTO has decided to have the theme of #WTD2016 as Tourism for All - Promoting Universal Accessibility. The celebration of the World Tourism Day 2016 under the above theme comes at an encouraging time for international tourism as more political decision makers and the tourism industry are advocating for tourism for all, a tourism which can be enjoyed equally by everybody, regardless of one’s age or abilities. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in reaching these goals.

Reiterating the need of accessibility for all, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in his official message on World Tourism Day said, "Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis. Yet one billion people around the world living with disability, along with young children, seniors and persons with other access requirement, face obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate. Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations." 

India has 32 UNESCO recognised World Heritage Sites (WHS), which generate important revenues due to the large numbers of both domestic and international tourists. In the recent years, India has been focusing on making its tourism products and services accessible to all particularly the tourists with disabilities, seniors, children & women. Archaeological Survey of India is partnering with non-profits & other stakeholders to ensure that sensitive cultural monuments are adapted without damaging the unique heritage character of the monument yet, these become visitable by all on an equal basis with others. Of these, WHS like Qutb Minar & Red Fort in Delhi and Fatehpur Sikri in Agra have won National Tourism Awards for being made accessible  & disabled friendly in the past few years. Some other monuments are in the process. 

Though the pace of enhancing accessibility in tourism products is not as per the rising aspirations of the stakeholders, however the nation is on right track.  

Govt. of India under its Accessible India Campaign in partnership with Archaeological Survey of India, Ministry of Culture is planing to make major world heritage sites/ monuments accessible within a time bound manner, though the ASI have completed access improvements at some very promising projects on monuments under Delhi & Agra Circles. However, it needs to speed up the work. This is not just important to meet the legal mandate under the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UN CRPD) but also to attract a huge chunk of the section of potential tourists  that has some or the other form of disability. Many countries have achieved remarkable access improvements while India is still struggling due to inherent challenges. But there is hope - a hope for better accessibility at tourism sites so that persons with disabilities could also enjoy their rights to recreation, leisure and culture on an equal basis with others as enshrined in Article 30 of the CRPD.

On this World Tourism Day, we commit ourselves to make Indian Tourism sites & services welcoming to all with a greater vigour.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Smart Cities missing out on Accessibility & Inclusivity

Smart Cities missing out on Accessibility and Inclusivity

“While the entire smart cities (project) is data- driven project, there is no data on accessibility. Since there is no data, there is very less likelihood of including it into the indicators," said, Subhash Chandra Vashishth

Express News Service, Ahmedabad  28th Aug 2016

Leading experts from various sectors batted for the government to have more accessibility and inclusivity indicators in the Smart Cities Mission at the National Conclave on Universal Design & Accessibility (UD &A) in Smart Cities, organised by the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad Saturday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conclave, Subhash Chandra Vashishth, lawyer and founder of CABE, said, “While the entire smart cities (project) is data- driven project, there is no data on accessibility. Since there is no data, there is very less likelihood of including it into the indicators. Accessibility is actually still not on the agenda of smart cities, that’s what we have seen in our experience. It’s on automation, on getting smart technology — but not planning the environment keeping the last link — the weakest and most vulnerable person in mind. Unless that happens, this is not sustainable and we may have to end up redoing it in the future. So far we have been looking at accessibility as a charity and talking in terms of percentages, but we have not been benchmarking it.” He added that accessibility reforms will be brought in with the NBC (National Building Code) 2016.

“The IT infrastructure currently employed in corporates and banks etc that is usable by mainstream needs to be usable by all, which is where the gap really lies. For example, if you use a software in a bank, its usability by a blind person is not taken into consideration. And what it leads to is that no blind person is then placeable in that bank. Secondly, there are certain key building blocks for IT infrastructure and accessibility. One of them is this text to speech technology and it doesn’t work for us in Indian languages despite India becoming an IT hub of the world. Lots of research is happening through labs, but different models need to be brought in,” said Dipendra Manocha, managing trustee, Saksham Trust.

“The entire framework for smart cities is looking at how to provide IT infrastructure that is smarter, but who are the people going to use it? Especially children, old people, women etc, and people with disabilities who are not that smart. People creating these smart cities should also look at what unsmart people we are planning for in terms of programme, plan, delivery accessibility and usage. The smart cities mission misses out on the accessibility and inclusivity bit as many people who are not IT savvy, economically backward,” said Anjlee Agarwal, executive director, Samarthyam.

Source: Indian Express

Saturday, August 27, 2016

CABE contributed to the Universal Design Conclave & Accessibility Conclave at IIMA on 27 Aug 2016

Conclave Welcome Banner

Dear Colleagues,

The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIMA) organised a Conclave titled "National Conclave on Universal Design and Accessibility, Smart Cities & Digital India" on August 27, 2016 at PP Gupta Auditorium, IMDC, New Campus, Indian Institute of Management(IIMA), Vastrapur, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

This conclave was an initiative to generate awareness about the concept of "Accessibility or Design for All" which focuses on designing buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to people with disabilities, older people and also people without disabilities. It was organised in co-operation with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, and with Blind People’s Association (BPA), as research partners. The Conclave was very well moderated by Prof. Ashis Jalote Parmar, an information architect & design thinker, one of the dynamic  & able professors that IIMA has on its rolls.

Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Advocate & Founder - CABE was also invited among other expert speakers in this august conclave to share his experiences & speak on "How universal design in smart cities/ habitat can address disability rights?" Visit here for programme schedule on IIMA website and here for the  UD Conclave Brochure in PDF. 

Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth with Dr. Ashis Jalote Parmar, the Organiser
Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth with Dr. Ashis Jalote Parmar

Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth speaking at the Conclave

During his talk, Mr. Vashishth stressed that he personally preferred the term 'smart habitat' to 'smart cities' as habitat is all inclusive term including all forms of human habitation and not just cities. He shared with examples how concept of smart habitat was necessary  to realise the disability rights. Indicating the systemic lacunae in the "smart cities" concept, he emphasised  how vulnerable persons with disabilities, elders & those with other diversity would be rendered as the smart cities was a data driven project. The indicators of a smart cities that most cities will follow are based on the data available while there is no virtual data available on accessibility of built environment or services as of now. Thus it was most likely that accessibility requirements do not form part of smart city indicators. The Govt. of India even doesn't have a clear and specific picture of the number of persons with disabilities in the country. 

Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth taking questions of participants

Mr. Vashishth also shared that while Accessible India Campaign was a very good initiative of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Bhai Modi and that it has brought focus back to the basic accessibility challenges facing the nation, its reach is still limited to cities that too only a certain number of public buildings. Rural India is still beyond reach of the campaign and we all know over 65% of population resides in villages which includes a significant population of elders & those with disabilities. 

He also expressed that with over-emphasis on the technology in the smart cities, the "compassion" has taken a back seat. He advocated "Smart & Compassionate Habitats" instead of "Smart Cities" as Cities left out so many Indians from reaping the fruits of development  and it was also a cause of lop-sided development & reason for mass exodus of rural population to cities & suburbs leading to socioeconomic, psychological & medical complexities.

"Accessibility is actually still not on the agenda of smart cities, that’s what we have seen in our experience. It’s on automation, on getting smart technology — but not planning the environment keeping the last link — the weakest and most vulnerable person in mind. Unless that happens, it will not be sustainable and we may have to end up redoing it in the future in form of retrofitting. So far we have been looking at accessibility as a charity, add-ons and talking in terms of percentages, but we have not been bench-marking it.” he said.

He raised concern on the huge gap between the legal requirements & actual compliance when it came to accessibility of buildings, transport infrastructure, services, websites & ICT infrastructure. He stressed that systemic changes were needed to capture the data on accessibility so that it could be reflected in the budgetary plans & schemes and in the 100 smart cities that India is poised to achieve. He added that new revisions brought out by the Bureau of Indian Standards in the National Building Code 2016- wherein he authored the entire chapter on accessibility provisions- contain comprehensive requirements on Accessibility based on Universal Design.

Other important speakers included Senior representatives from Accessible India Campaign (Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment), Skill India, Digital India (Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology), Municipal Commissioner Ahmadabad, Mastek India, Centre for Internet & Society- Bangalore, Saksham- New Delhi, Samarthyam- New Delhi, School of Planning & Architecture, Bhopal etc. The participants included design professionals, architects, engineers, academicians from National Institute of Design, DPOs, Govt. Officials from ULBs & Smart City Project & other stakeholders.

Here are some more pictures from the Conclave.

Mr. Deepinder Singh, Head Strategy Digital India, Speaking

Mr. Sanjay Singh, Under Secy, Accessible India speaks with Ms. Anjlee Agarwal, Samarthyam & Mr. Dipendra Manocha, Saksham Trust on the dias
Mr. Sanjay Singh, Under Secy, Accessible India, speaking

Dr. Parmar introducing Dr. Rachna Khare, SPA Bhopal

Municipal Commissioner Ahmadabad speaking

Mr. Vashishth with other speakers

Mr. Kumar Manish, Founder Urban Voices, raising a query

Conclave Hall at IIMA full of participants

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Indian Case study by CABE finds a place in 6 Best Practices included in UNWTO's Theme Brochure for World Tourism Day 2016

Dear Colleagues,

To spread the word of both the importance and immense benefits universal accessibility has and can bring to society at large and to mark the theme of the World Tourism Day 2016 on 27th September 2016, the UNWTO (World Tourism Organisation) has released this brochure titled “Tourism for All - Promoting Universal Accessibility”. 

Image of the Cover Page of the UNWTO Brochure titled "Tourism for all - promoting universal accessibility"
It contains six short case studies highlighting good practices in the Accessible Tourism supply chain selected from all over the world and I am proud to share that the first case study is from India contributed by CABE Foundation, based on the wonderful work that civil society organisations & ASI did together. Following are the six case studies:
  1. Accessible Heritage Tourism: Best Practices of Universal Accessibility in India: Adapting sensitive cultural monuments to enable all visitors to enjoy cultural heritage sites;
  2. Exhibition of 3-D copies of Works of Art from the Prado Museum's Collection, Spain: Use of new technologies to make art accessible for visitors with visual impairments;
  3. Everyone Belongs Outside: Push to Open Nature & the Alberta Parks Inclusion Plan, Canada: Inclusion of often-excluded groups of visitors, such as persons with reduced mobility and learning difficulties, in outdoor environments;
  4. Barrier-free Tour Center, Japan: Application of accessibility-improvement measures and Universal Design to achieve access in urban planning and buildings through advocacy groups working with public and private sector;
  5. Lonely Planet Accessible Travel Guide: Availability of accessibility information; and
  6. T-GUIDE: Guiding Visitors with Learning Difficulties: Vocational training course on guiding visitors with intellectual impairments or learning difficulties at cultural heritage sites.
The examples brought out in this brochure provide a small sample of how world is proactively devising accessibility solutions to bring home the point that Tourism is for every one and should thus include each one of us irrespective of one's age, ability or other diversity. 

The brochure is intended for the "new" audiences - both destinations and businesses to learn & develop an understanding of Accessible  & Inclusive Tourism during the UNWTOs' World Tourism Day celebrations in September 27, 2016. Once the idea reaches the businesses & destination managers that making tourism accessible opens it to all and brings in the economics as well, there is no dearth of ideas, guidance, know-how on making accessible tourism as part of every tourism experience. 

Year: 2016, Publisher: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

About World Tourism Day

Ever since its inception, World Tourism Day is celebrated on 27 September to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. As the official day set aside in the United Nations Calendar the celebration seeks to highlight tourism's potential to contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing some of the most pressing challenges society is faced with today.

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