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Urban Development Minister assures N.C.P.E.D.P. on Access Guidelines

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: In a meeting with Jaipal Reddy, Minister for Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation on December 5, Javed Abidi, Honorary Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) urged him to ensure that the Ministry’s efforts to make public places accessible are carried out with proper technical knowhow. Abidi highlighted the need to revise the Access Guidelines under the National Building Code (N.B.C.).

Abidi brought to the notice of the Minister the recent call for tenders by the Urban Development Ministry for conducting access audits of public buildings in Delhi where no technical criteria was fixed! He pointed out that without proper technical expertise, the whole purpose of barrier free construction is defeated. Abidi also submitted a copy of the proposed revisions to the Access Guidelines under N.B.C.

These proposed revisions were prepared by N.C.P.E.D.P. in collaboration with AccessAbility and include recommendations for locomotor disabilities, hearing impairment, visual impairment, cognitive disability and also people with heart and lung diseases as the requirements of these people are similar to those with impaired mobility. The proposed revisions consider issues like multiple wheelchair movement in a space and wheelchair turning radius which are usually overlooked. They also recommended proper signages for hearing impaired people, orientation information and also acoustically insulated rooms to keep away ambient noise.

N.B.C. is followed by architects and planners across the country and unless the Access Guidelines under N.B.C. are revised, barrier free construction would never be achieved and the country would have to deal with even more faulty designs with wrong gradients, misleading guiding blocks, etc. Reddy assured Abidi that he would personally look into the revisions needed in N.B.C.

Abidi also reiterated disability sector’s demand for setting up the National Institute of Universal Design as mandated by the XIth Five Year Plan. The Minister asked for a position paper on the issue. N.C.P.E.D.P. is now working on this position paper and will soon be submitting it to the Minister.