Volume 1 Issue 8 - December 15, 2003

Finally! A place fully accessible to disabled people

DNIS News Network -- Situated in the Vasant Vihar area of South Delhi, the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) office is probably the first in India which has been fully renovated and made suitable to persons with disabilities.

The entrance is marked with a row of yellow warning blocks. This is to warn people with low visibility of sudden changes in height and depth, for instance, the use of such blocks at the beginning of ramps. Yellow paint has been used all round the office, on handrails, switches and boards. "This is to help low vision persons to identify these boards from the surroundings," says Kevin Moll of VSO.

A ramp has been built to enable persons on wheelchairs to gain easy entrance into the office. The familiar yellow handrail runs along side the ramp. All doors in the office have been widened for wheelchair entry and sliding doors have been replaced with compatible swing doors. Door-closers often hampered a comfortable entrance for a person on a wheelchair, hence these were removed and replaced with kick plates to facilitate opening of doors by foot. The door is also flanked by a bell and an alarm system in case any help is required.

Special attention has been paid to the kind of furniture placed in the meeting rooms, such as tables with wide leg space under them. The toilets haven't been ignored in the renovation process either. Basins, mirrors, switches, soap stands, towel rails and door handles have been readjusted and repositioned to cater to all heights. The toilet seat has been shifted and placed in the vertex where two adjacent walls meet. Grab bars are fixed on either side of the toilet seat. There is also an alarm bell in case of accidents.

A map of the office has been placed at the reception for easy maneuvering. Name plates, hung on doors, have been written in English, Hindi, Braille and mounted letters to help people with visual disability. But that is not all; the icing on this cake is that the entire cost of redoing the office has cost VSO just Rs 1.5 lakh.

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