Ms. Sminu Jindal confers ‘Svayam Accessibility Awards 2018 (Taiwan Edition)’ on eight institutions for promoting inclusion through accessibility

Taipei | New Delhi,   November 15, 2018

Founder of a pioneering dream – “To Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild a newer world to empower every soul”, an accessibility crusader, India’s first women leader to have broken the glass ceiling in the Steel, Oil and Energy sector, young and dynamic Managing Director of Jindal SAW Ltd. Ms. Sminu Jindal gave away the ‘Svayam Accessibility Awards 2018 (Taiwan Edition)’ at Taipei on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transportation for the Elderly and Disabled People (TRANSED2018), on 14th November 2018 to leading government and non-government agencies of Taiwan for their wonderful initiatives to promote #Accessibility4All and inclusion.

The Call for Nomination received an overwhelming response from across Taiwan – both from government organisations as well as businesses and social enterprises.

Board of Jury
The Board of Jury for Svayam Accessibility Awards, comprised of International experts and practitioners and included Ms. Ann Frye, Director, Ann Frye Ltd., U.K. and Member, International Activities Sub Committee of TRB ABE 60, Prof. (Ms.) Anabela Simões, Ergonomics Department, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal and Member, Research Sub Committee of ABE(60) TRB, Mr. Rex CK Luk, Hong Kong Welfare Society, Member, TRB ABE 60 Committee, Mr. Joey Goldman, Independent Consultant/Co-Chair TRB ABE 60, Dr. Geetam Tiwari, Transport Research & Injury Prevention Program (TRIPP), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) New Delhi, Mr. Mohammed Yousuf, US Department of Transport and Member ABE 60, Mr. Anuj Malhotra, Centre for Green Mobility, India, Mr. Amit Bhatt, Director – Integrated Transport, Sustainable Cities, World Resources Institute, India, Prof. M. Balakrishnan, Computer Science Engineering Department, IIT Delhi, and Prof. Sheila Mitra –Sarkar, Founder, Future Trans Consulting and Member, ABE 70 – Women’s Issues in Transportation.

Introductory Film to Svayam Accessibility Awards, its legacy and nominees of 2018 edition.

 

RECIPIENTS OF SVAYAM ACCESSIBILITY AWARDS 2018 (TAIWAN EDITION):

Category: MOST ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC TRANSPORT (POLICY)

Institute of Transportation (IOT), Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), Taiwan

Photo of Dr. Chi-Kuo Lin, Director General, Institute of Transportation, MOTC, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal & Mr. Patrick Yey, Hony. Chairman, TRANSED2018, at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Dr. Chi-Kuo Lin (centre), Director General, Institute of Transportation, MOTC, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal & Mr. Patrick Yey, Hony. Chairman, TRANSED2018, at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Citation: The Institute of Transportation (IOT) helps the MOTC in accessible public transportation using a promotion cycle with concepts introduction, planning and design demonstration, operation demonstration, and regulation and policy development. IOT has been successfully assisting MOTC to establish a public transportation that is more in line with the needs of diverse groups, from barrier-free to universal design.

Institute of Transportation, Ministry of Transportation and Communications (IOT-MOTC) introduced the concepts of barrier-free environment through a series of researches since 1990. In 1995, IOT performed a series of studies that demonstrated how to plan, design, and operate the barrier-free vehicles and services.

With the help of a series of researches, IOT successfully demonstrated the planning, design, and operation of barrier-free vehicles and services. IOT also drafted the Regulation based on the gradually implemented accessible public transportation. The Regulation draft accomplished the legalization of accessible public transportation in land (road and railway), sea, and air transportation.

IOT helped towards facilitating the “sustainable development of policies for accessible public transportation to establish an inclusive environment.”

Congratulations Institute of Transportation, MOTC!

 

Category: MOST ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC TRANSPORT (PRACTICE)

The Bureau of Transportation, Taichung City Government, Taiwan

hoto of Mr. Hui-Sheng, Feng, Deputy Director, Transportation Bureau, Taichung City Government, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal & Mr. Patrick Yey, Hony. Chairman, TRANSED2018, at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Mr. Hui-Sheng, Feng, (Centre) Deputy Director, Transportation Bureau, Taichung City Government, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal & Mr. Patrick Yey, Hony. Chairman, TRANSED2018, at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Citation: The Bureau of Transportation, Taichung City Government has undertaken inclusion- friendly accessible transport initiatives such as “Adopting Connected Vehicle Technology to Improve Bus Service” and “Accessibility for Blind and Visually Impaired Passengers”. The Bureau’s ‘City All-in-One Service’ is a ‘visually impaired navigation technology’ combined with public transport applications’ services, which is truly a great enabler. The system also works for inclusion as general population and visually impaired passengers can use the bus service together without any barrier.

In the last two years, the Bureau had started to develop Smart Transportation IOV Service, which includes Continuous promotion of Accessibility for Blind and Visually Impaired Passengers services, Bus shelter flow, and traffic detection. The buses are equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) & driving recorders (MDVR).

Congratulations Bureau of Transportation, Taichung City Government!

 

Category: MOST ACCESSIBLE TOURIST ATTRACTION

North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration, Tourism Bureau, MOTC, Taiwan

Photo of Mr. Shi-Ching, Chang, Dy Director General, Tourism Bureau MOTC Taiwan and Mr. Jenn-Chyan Chang, Director of North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration, Tourism Bureau, MOTC, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms.Sminu Jindal & Mr. Patrick Yey, Hony. Chairman, TRANSED2018, at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Mr. Shi-Ching, Chang (Second from Left), Dy Director General, Tourism Bureau MOTC Taiwan and Mr. Jenn-Chyan Chang (second from right), Director of North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration, Tourism Bureau, MOTC, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal & Mr. Patrick Yey, Hony. Chairman, TRANSED2018, at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Citation: In order to a create disabled- friendly environment, the North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration, Tourism Bureau, MOTC, Taiwan, has included accessibility as one of its main focus areas toward “Building a Barrier-Free and Accessible Environment at the Keelung Heping Island Park” and North Cost Accessibility Route”, and allocated a dedicated budget to develop accessible facilities.

North Coast offers nursery room, accessible toilet and accessible parking lot, accessible route, while also offering wheelchairs and baby stroller on rent. As North Coast owns one of the most unique geomorphic and incredible beaches in the world, it made the entire facilities accessible so that tourists with disabilities can also enjoy cruise tourism.

Congratulations North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration, Tourism Bureau, MOTC, Taiwan!

 

Category: BEST PRACTICE AWARDS

1. Best Practice (Accessible Transport) : Bureau of Transportation, Tainan City Government, Taiwan 

Photo of Mr. Wu Yu-Chiu, Section Chief of Transportation Management Section, Tainan City Government, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov. 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Mr. Wu Yu-Chiu, Section Chief of Transportation Management Section, Tainan City Government, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov. 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Citation: The Bureau of Transportation, Tainan City Government’s “Bus Rapid Transit” system helps in creating a barrier-free environment of bus service. There are 149 low-floor buses now in Tainan with wheelchair zones, specific seats for guide dogs, and companion seats. In addition to 40% low-floor buses ratio, there are 607 new type bus shelters which have been built with LED dynamic information display systems, and 62 of them were selected to be equipped with “blind information dots” and “bus to the station voice broadcast” equipment.

“Rapid Public Transportation System” by the Bureau includes Bus Rapid Transit, Railway Rapid Transit, Inter-modal Stations Development, Demand Responsive Transportation Service (DRTS), Integration of Electronic Tickets and Information, and Advanced Public Transportation System.

Congratulations Bureau of Transportation, Tainan City Government!

 

2. Best Practice (Accessible Hospitality) : – OurCityLove Social Enterprise Co., Ltd., Taiwan

Photo of Prof. Dr. Chong Wey Lin, Founder and CEO, OurCityLove Social Enterprise Co., Ltd., Taiwan receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Prof. Dr. Chong Wey Lin (second from left), Founder and CEO,  along with Mr. Jack Chen, Vice CEO, OurCityLove Social Enterprise Co. Ltd., Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal & Mr. Patrick Yey (extreme right), Hony. Chairman, TRANSED2018, at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Citation: OurCityLove Social Enterprise Taiwan combines innovative technology and passionate social entrepreneurs to raise awareness, increase inclusivity and improve accessibility for the elderly, mobility impaired, and people with disabilities.

It is now the leading smart city accessibility information service partner for 15 city governments, 3000+ companies in public service category and 77 NGOs in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. Many famous museums, shopping malls, hospitals, schools, transportation stations and government agencies have adopted OurCityLove’s advanced ICT solution to offer inclusive services to all.

Congratulations OurCityLove Social Enterprise!

 

3. Best Practice (Comprehensive rehabilitation & accessibility services for Persons with Disabilities)- Eden Social Welfare Foundation, Taiwan

hoto of Mr. Juo-Sung HUANG, CEO, Eden Social Welfare Foundation, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15thInternational Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Mr. Juo-Sung HUANG, CEO, Eden Social Welfare Foundation, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15thInternational Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Citation: Eden Social Welfare Foundation has undertaken brilliant steps towards accessible para-transit systems, rehab bus transportation provisions, vocational training for persons with disabilities, job counselling, emotional therapy, as well as early intervention services for children with delayed development and residential care for seniors.

Eden has more than 100 service centres in Taiwan and overseas and serves nearly 200,000 people every year. Through a series of activities, such as “Love without Borders – Assistive Devices Donation Project”, Eden has successfully been promoting the cause of disabilities and accessibility in Taiwan and beyond.

Congratulations Eden Social Welfare Foundation!

 

4. Best Practice [Accessible Transport (Taxi service)] – Joint Award to The Yulon Group, Taiwan and the OurCityLove Social Enterprise, Taiwan

Photo of Mr. Vincent Tsao, Vice President Luxgen Motor Co. Ltd, Yulon Group & Prof. Dr. Chong Wey Lin, Founder and CEO, OurCityLove Social Enterprise Co. Ltd., Taiwan receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Mr. Vincent Tsao (extreme right) Vice President Luxgen Motor Co. Ltd, Yulon Group & Prof. Dr. Chong Wey Lin (extreme left), Founder and CEO, OurCityLove Social Enterprise Co. Ltd., Taiwan jointly receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Citation: The Yulon Group and the OurCityLove Social Enterprise have together redefined access to hotels with its inspiring accessible transport (Taxi service).

Their cooperation inspires social innovation and boosts accessible tourism services in Taiwan. “Luxgen V7 Eco‐Hyper” is the result of their joint design with the inputs from the people with disabilities, and is Taiwan’s first accessible vehicle.

With these breakthrough models, they have successfully tried to address a common frustration among the elderly and people with disabilities and their families — travelling far tourism.

Congratulations Yulon Group and the OurCityLove Social Enterprise!

 

5. Best Practice (Rehabilitation of People with Intellectual Disabilities) – Children Are Us Social Welfare Foundation, Taiwan

Photo of Ms. Sunny Hu, Director, Public Affairs, Children Are Us Social Welfare Foundation, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Ms. Sunny Hu, Director, Public Affairs, Children Are Us Social Welfare Foundation, Taiwan, receiving Svayam Accessibility Award 2018 from Svayam Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal at Taipei on 14 Nov 2018 on the sidelines of 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018)

Citation: Children Are Us Social Welfare Foundation (CAREUS) has constructed a safe working environment for children with intellectual disabilities and has demonstrated the Best Practice in their Rehabilitation. With assistance of social workers and industrial mentors, they teach children with ID professional skills, and have simplified the operational procedures through individualized and differentiated practical training and the design of assistive devices.

Children with ID are engaged in job matching and license acquisition to transform them from “service receivers” into “service providers.” Also, positive values are also being instilled into them for equal participation in the society.

Congratulations Children Are Us Social Welfare Foundation!

 

Media Coverage

Coverage of Svayam Accessibility Awards 2018, Taiwan Edition held on 14 Nov 2018 at Taipei.

See you in the next edition of Svayam Accessibility Awards 2021!

 

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Posted in accessible para transit, Accessible Transport, accessible travel and tourism, Ms. Sminu Jindal, People with Reduced Mobility, Sustainable Transport, Svayam, Svayam Accessibility Awards, Svayam Events, Svayam India, Svayam Press Releases, TRANSED Conferences, Transportation Research Board | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Svayam Accessibility Awards 2018 (Taiwan Edition) – Winner’s List

New Delhi | 14th Nov 2018

We are extremely happy to share that on the basis of recommendations of the Board of Jury, following organisations are being selected for bestowing the “Svayam Accessibility Awards 2018 (Taiwan Edition)” in different categories.

 Category: MOST ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC TRANSPORT 

  1. Institute of Transportation, Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), Taiwan
  2. The Bureau of Transportation, Taichung City Government, Taiwan

Category: MOST ACCESSIBLE TOURIST ATTRACTION 

  1. North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration, Tourism Bureau, MOTC, Taiwan 

Category: BEST PRACTICE AWARDS

  1. Best Practice (Accessible Transport) : Bureau of Transportation, Tainan City Government, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
  2. Best Practice (Accessible Hospitality) : – OurCityLove Social Enterprise Co., Ltd., Taiwan
  3. Best Practice (Comprehensive rehabilitation & accessibility services for Persons with Disabilities)- Eden Social Welfare Foundation, Taiwan
  4. Best Practice [Accessible Transport (Taxi service)] Joint Award to The Yulon Group, Taiwan and the OurCityLove Social Enterprise, Taiwan
  5. Best Practice (Rehabilitation of People with Intellectual Disabilities) – Children Are Us Social Welfare Foundation, Taiwan

Details of the Award Ceremony 

The award ceremony will be held on the sidelines of the 15th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for the Elderly and the Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018, Taipei),  as per the following details:  

Venue:  Banquet Hall, Taipei International Convention Centre (TICC),                                            1 Hsin-Yi Road, Section 5, Taipei 11049, Taiwan (ROC)

Date & Time:     14th November, 6 PM – 8 PM

Heartiest congratulations to all the Winners and we hope this award becomes another milestone to renew our commitments to achieve a better, liveable, sustainable and inclusive world for all of us!

Hashtags: Sustainable TransportSvayam Accessibility AwardsSvayam EventsSvayam Press ReleasesTRANSED ConferencesTransportation Research Boardurban mobility  Accessible TourismAccessible TransportSvayam Accessibility AwardsSvayam EventsTRANSED2018 Conference

Posted in Svayam, Svayam Accessibility Awards, Svayam Events, Svayam India, Svayam Press Releases, TRANSED Conferences, Transportation Research Board, urban mobility | Leave a comment

Svayam Accessibility Awards 2018 Update- 10 entries shortlisted for finals!!

New Delhi  |  05th Nov 2018

We are encouraged by an overwhelming response to the ‘Call for Nomination for Svayam Accessibility Awards 2018 (Taiwan)’. The Jury consisting of national and international experts have shortlisted 10 applications for final review.

Each of these applicants have proven record of mobility, transportation and accessibility related projects implemented in the territory of Taiwan on the thematic areas. The award ceremony will coincide with the 15th International conference on Mobility and Transport for the Elderly and the Disabled Persons (TRANSED2018, Taipei), scheduled to be held during 12-15 November 2018 at Taipei, Taiwan.

We thank our jury members for shortlisting the top 10 agencies/organizations. The names of finalist organizations with their respective categories are as below:

S.No. Names of Organization Category/categories
1 Children Are Us Social Welfare Foundation (CAREUS) Best Practice Project
2 The Bureau of Transportation, Taichung City Government Accessible Public Transport
3 Eden Social Welfare Foundation Best Practice Project
4 Yulon Group & OurCityLove Social Enterprise Taiwan Best Practice Project (Transport)
5 OurCityLove Social Enterprise Co., Ltd., Taiwan Best Practice Project (Hospitality)
6 Bureau of Transportation, Tainan City Government, Taiwan Accessible Public Transport
7 Institute of Transportation, MOTC Accessible Public Transport
8 Chiayi City Government Accessible Tourist Attraction/ Heritage Site
9 National Taiwan Museum Accessible Tourist Attraction/ Heritage Site
10 North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration, Tourism Bureau, MOTC, Taiwan Accessible Tourist Attraction/ Heritage Site

We congratulate all ‘Finalists’ who made it to this prestigious and coveted list. Keep your fingers crossed and watch this space for the final results to be declared on 14 Nov. 2018!!

 

 

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Svayam & FAAS (water.org) join hands to promote Accessible Sanitation in Rural India

New Delhi  | 20 September 2018

To promote accessible sanitation in rural India, Svayam  & Foundation for Accessible Aquanir and Sanitation (FAAS) (the Indian arm of water.org) organized a project launch event in New Delhi on 20 September 2018.

Photo of Accessible Sanitation Project Launch by Svayam & FAAS

In Photo: Svayam Founder Sminu Jindal (seated) with Svayam & FAAS team members at the launch of Joint Accessible Sanitation Project

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 02 August 2018.

Ms. Sminu Jindal, Founder-Chairperson, Svayam, & MD, Jindal SAW Limited,  graced the occasion and formally launched the project.  The event was attended by Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Director, Svayam, Mr. Manoj Gulati, Executive Director India, water.org, and Director, FAAS, along with Ms. D. Buvaneswari, Senior Program Manager, FAAS, and other key personnel of the both organisations.

Commenting on the unique project, Ms. Jindal said: “As every home has elderly people, women and children, an accessible toilet is a need and not a choice. Also, it provides safety and ease-of-use when someone in the family gets sick or injured, or when a lady in the house is going through pregnancy or has a C-Section. The families having children or persons with disabilities certainly need such toilets.”

Svayam Founder added, “As awareness is lacking in rural India, it is imperative that we go out there and tell people that they need such family toilets. Through this project, people will be able to know that building an accessible toilet is not expensive; it is done differently. I hope this project will set an example for many more states to follow and it will also strengthen the Government’s ‘Accessible India Campaign’ as well as ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’. I wish the Project Team a great success!”

Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth said: “This project can create a larger impact in propagating the concept of ‘Accessible Family Toilets’ in rural areas. The project is sustainable as once the families start using it, it will spread by word-of-mouth and more families would like to own this kind of toilet.”

The brief details of the project are given below:

States to be covered: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha

Target beneficiaries: Families with elders, persons with reduced mobility, persons with disabilities, injured/sick family members, pregnant women/new mothers and children.

The five key pillars for this project are:

  1. Establishment of Technology Specifications for Rural Special Need Toilet
  2. Supply Chain Market Creation and Mason Training
  3. Local People and Stakeholder Awareness and Demand Generation
  4. Credit Financing for Self-Construction
  5. Monitoring and Evaluation

Svayam is the Funding and Knowledge Partner of this project, while FAAS is the Implementing Partner. The objective of the project is to encourage people in rural areas to build accessible family toilets with the loan from Financial Institutions (FIs).  With the grants from Svayam FAAS will launch awareness campaigns, create IEC material, hold workshops, and promote Accessible Family Toilet as a financial product and encourage rural households through self help groups to take a loan to built or retrofit an accessible family toilet.

 

Posted in Accessible Sanitation, Accessible Toilets, Barrier Free, barrier free homes, Persons with Disabilities, Svayam Press Releases, WASH | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Svayam Founder’s Interview in Hindi publication ‘Aahar Vihar’ (Sep. 2018)

New Delhi | 06th September 2018

सुश्री स्मिनू जिन्दल, मैनेजिंग डायरेक्टर, जिन्दल सॉ लिमिटेड, एक दूरदर्शी उद्यमी हैं जिन्होंने ये मिथक तोड़ दिया कि महिलाएं स्टील, तेल और गैस क्षेत्र में बड़ी कंपनियों का नेतृत्व नहीं कर सकती। जिन्दल सॉ लिमिटेड, जिसका मौजूदा टर्नओवर Rs. 8300 करोड़ है, को उचाईयों तक पहुंचाने में सुश्री जिन्दल का अत्यंत महत्वपूर्ण योगदान रहा है।

सुश्री जिन्दल, जो खुद व्हीलचेयर यूजर है, वर्ष  2000 में ‘स्वयम’ नाम की एक संस्था की स्थापना किया, जिसका उद्देश्य विश्व को सुगम्य बनाना है ताकि बुज़ुर्गों, बच्चों, बीमारों, और दिव्यांगजनों को जीवन जीने और अपने रोज़ मर्रा के कार्यो के करने में किसी भी तरह की परेशानी न हो और वो स्वाभिमान और सुरक्षा के साथ अपना जीवन जी सकें।

स्वयम की स्थापना से पहले देश में अधिकतर लोग केवल विकलांगता के बारे में जानते थे और इनके अधिकारों की मांग करते थे। स्वयम ने लोगो में सुगम्यता को लेकर जागरूकता फैलाना शुरू किआ और पालिसी और धरातल दोनों लेवल पर कड़ी मेहनत की। एक ऐतिहासिक मौका हमें क़ुतुब मीनार को सुगम्य बनाने को मिला जिसके एक्सेसिबल बनने के बाद 20 मेंबर्स वाली संसदीय समिति, जिसके अध्यक्ष श्री सीताराम येचुरी थे, ने क़ुतुब परिसर का सर्वेक्षण किया  और देखा कि कैसे सुगम्यता हर तरह के टूरिस्ट्स (बुज़ुर्ग, बच्चे, महिलाएं, दिव्यांगजन) को लाभ पहुंचा रही है। इसके बाद भारतीय पुरातत्व सर्वेक्षण (ASI) ने सारी विश्व धरोहर स्थलों को सुगम्य बनाने का निर्णय लिया जिसमे ताज महल भी शामिल है।

इसके बाद पर्यटन मंत्रालय, दिल्ली सरकार और राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर सुगम्यता से होने वाले फायदे के बारे में जागरूकता बढ़ने लगी और सरकार को ये मालूम हो गया कि सुगम्यता देश के लिए ज़रूरी है। जब सरकार ने  ‘सुगम्य भारत अभियान’ की शुरुआत किआ तब बहुत सारी संस्थाओं को रोज़गार से जुड़ने का मौका मिला और पहली बार संस्थाओं ने सुगम्यता के लिए काम करना शुरू किया ।

राष्ट्रीय और अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर सुगम्य वातावरण को प्रोत्साहित करने के लिए स्वयम वर्ष 2012 से अलग अलग देशों में अवार्ड्स भी देता रहा है। अगला पड़ाव ताइवान है। 

ऐसा देखा जाता है कि घर में बुज़ुर्ग होने के बावजूद भी लोग अपने घर को सुगम्य नहीं बनाते। क्या ये जागरूकता की कमी की वजह से है या लोगों को ये लगता है की ये काम महंगा होगा?

हाँ, जागरूकता की कमी है। हमें लगता है की हमारे बुज़ुर्गों ने अपनी ज़िन्दगी जी ली और वो अब ‘एडजस्ट’ कर लेगें। हम उनकी दिक्कतों को नहीं समझ पाते और उन्हें ‘एडजस्ट’ करने के लिए बोल देते हैं।

लोग 60 वर्ष की आयु में सेवानिवृत हो जाते हैं परन्तु बेहतर स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं की वजह से रिटायरमेंट के बाद भी उनके  पास जीने के लिए लम्बी आयु बची होती है। हमें सोचना चाहिए की 60 से 80 के बीच इस लम्बी उम्र को भला एक बुज़ुर्ग कैसे एडजस्ट कर लेगा। सुगम्य व सुलभ बुनियादी वातावरण और सुविधाओं की कमी के कारण बुज़ुर्ग सोने के पिंजरों में क़ैद हो जाते हैं जिसे वो कभी घर कहा करते थे!

और फिर बुज़ुर्ग ही क्यूँ? सुगम्यता की ज़रूरत आप को है, सब को है। महिलाओं, बीमार, बच्चों, घायल – इन सबको सुगम्य इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर की ज़रूरत पड़ती है। सुगम्यता आपके घर को ‘सुरक्षित’ बनाती है। इसलिए सुगम्य बिल्डिंग, सुगम्य यातायात और सुगम्य सर्विसेज का होना बेहद ज़रूरी है।

ये काम लगता महंगा है किन्तु ऐसा नहीं है। आज के इंटरनेट के ज़माने में सुगम्य घर बनाने के लिए हर इन्फॉर्मेशन आसानी से हासिल की जा सकती है। अगर आप नया घर बना रहें हैं तो इसे सुगम्य बनाने में कोई अलग खर्च नहीं होगा। पहले से बने हुए टॉयलेट को सुगम्य बनाने  (रेट्रोफिटिंग) में भी ज़्यादा खर्च नहीं होता, पर ये तो आपको घर बनाते समय सोचना चाहिए था कि चिकनी टाइल्स या संगमरमर न लगाए जबकि बाजार में स्किड-फ्री टाइल्स और ग्रैब बार्स आसानी से मिल जाते हैं। ये तो आपको मालूम होगा की अगर दरवाज़ा चौड़ा होगा तो जहाँ लकड़ी ज़्यादा लगेगी वहां ईट, सीमेंट कम भी तो हो जाएगी।

ये काम महंगा नहीं, डिफरेंट ज़रूर है। या ये कहिये कि ये दूसरी तरह से सोचने की चीज़ है।

पब्लिक इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर को सुगम्य बनाने में मुख्य चुनौतियां क्या हैं?

तीन चुनौतियां हैं। पहली चुनौती जागरूकता की कमी हैं। इसकी वजह से हम ये नहीं जान पाते कि ‘सुगम्यता’ हम सब का विषय है और हमें इससे कभी न कभी तो जूझना ही पड़ेगा। चूँकि हम जागरूक नहीं इसलिए हम अपनी ज़िम्मेदारियों को भी नज़रअंदाज़ कर देते हैं। हम रैम्प का रखरखाव नहीं करते, वहां कूड़ा दाल देते है, ट्रैफिक से बचने केलिए कर्ब-कट से अपनी बाइक निकाल ले जाते हैं, लिफ्ट में बुज़ुर्गों को पहले नहीं चढ़ने देते।

दूसरी बात, मान लो अगर एक बस या बस स्टॉप ख़राब हो जाये तो क्या हम उसे इस्तेमाल करना छोड़ देते है? नहीं, बल्कि हम उसे मेन्टेन करते रहते है। इसी तरह रैंप व सुगम्यता के अन्य साधनों का रखरखाव भी ज़रूरी है।

लोगों के नज़रियें को बदलना दूसरी बड़ी चुनौती है। जैसे हम पानी का इंतज़ाम करते हैं (न कि ये इंतज़ार करें की पहले प्यास लगे फिर कुआँ खोदें), वैसे ही घर को अभी सुगम्य बनाना ज़्यादा ज़रूरी है या फिर पहले चोट लग जाये, विकलांगता और बुढ़ापा आ जाये तब सोचें कि आओ अब घर को सुगम्य बनाते है? तबतक शायद बहुत देर हो चुकी होगी। उम्र के उस पड़ाव में शायद आपके पास आर्थिक निर्णय लेने की क्षमता भी न हो।

ऐसा मानना कि ये तो केवल २% (दिव्यांगजन) लोगों की प्रॉब्लम है फिर भला हम क्यूँ इस विषय पर बात करें, न सिर्फ ग़लत है बल्कि अपने आप को धोखा देने जैसा है। क्या आप बूढ़े नहीं होंगे? क्या आप के घर पर बुज़र्ग नहीं है? क्या आपके घर पर कभी कोई महिला प्रेगनंट नहीं होगी? क्या आपके घर में बच्चे नहीं रहते? क्या किसी को कभी भी चोट नहीं लगेगी? क्या कभी कोई बीमार नहीं पड़ेगा? ये सब हर घर में होता है, इसलिए नज़रिया बदलिए, नज़ारा अपने आप बदल जायेगा।

जागरूकता डिमांड्स को बढ़ाएगी और जब डिमांड्स बढ़ेगी तो सुगम्य घर बनाने वालों और इसमें इस्तेमाल होने वाली चीज़ो की उपलब्धता अपने आप ही बढ़ जाएगी।

तीसरी बड़ी चुनौती आवाज़ न उठाना है। उदाहरण के तौर पर रेलवेज में सुगम्यता को लेकर तो काम हो रहा है पर विमानों में में एक भी सुगम्य टॉयलेट नहीं होता जबकि इसमें प्रथम श्रेणी का कक्ष व विशिष्ट स्नानगृह का प्रावधान होता है। अब जरा कल्पना कीजिये कि आप लम्बी दूरी की हवाई यात्रा पर जा रहे हैं और आपको केवल इसलिए अपने आपको रोकना पड़े कि विमान में एक भी सुगम्य शौचालय नहीं है!  क्या ये मानवाधिकार का उल्लंघन नहीं? लेकिन ये हक़ तो तभी मिलेगा जब सारे लोग एक साथ आवाज़ उठाएगें।

दिव्यांग लोगों को हमारे देश में चैरिटी की नज़र से देखा जाता है, जबकि उन्हें सामान अधिकार मिलना चाहिए। इस पर आपके क्या विचार है?

आपने बिलकुल सही कहा। दिव्यांगजनों को सामान अधिकार मिलना ही चाहिए। जन सामान्य ये समझती है कि दिव्यांगजन केवल चैरिटी के पात्र है। स्कूल और कॉलेज सुगम्य नहीं, बच्चो के माता-पिता चाहते नहीं कि उनके बच्चे के साथ कोई दिव्यांगजन पढ़े, कंपनी इन्हे जॉब देना नहीं चाहती क्यूंकि फिर उन्हें अपने ऑफिसेस को सुगम्य बनाना पड़ेगा, इसलिए अधिकतर लोग दिखावे, पुण्य प्राप्त करने या एक अच्छी अनुभूति हेतु थोड़ी देर के लिए दिव्यांगजनों के प्रति सहानुभूति तो दिखा देंगें पर कोई ऐसा काम नहीं करेंगे जिससे एक दिव्यांगजन स्वाभिमान के साथ अपनी रोज़ी कमा सके। दिव्यांगजन को ‘बेचारा’ दिखाने में कुछ संस्थाओं का भी काफी योगदान है। यहाँ तक कि माता -पिता भी अपने दिव्यांग बच्चे को ‘स्पैशल ट्रीट’ करते है, जो गलत है। उनको पूरी तरह दूसरों पर निर्भर बना देते हैं और इस तरह वो बच्चे असली दुनिया और इसकी प्रोब्लेम्स को नहीं समझ पाते और न ही झेल सकते हैं। इसलिए माता-पिता को चाहिए कि दिव्यांग बच्चों को भी आत्मनिर्भर बनाये और उन्हें गिरने और उठने का मौका दे।

दिव्यांगजन को आगे बढ़ने के लिए चैरिटी नहीं, अपॉर्चुनिटी चाहिए। इसीलिए हमें सुगम्य शिक्षा और शिक्षा का सामान अधिकार की मांग करना चाहिए। अगर दिव्यांग बच्चो को चैरिटी के बजाये सुगम्य शिक्षा मिलेगी तो वो अपनी राह तलाशने में खुद सक्षम होंगें।

सम्मिलित समाज तभी बनेगा जब पब्लिक इंफ़्रास्ट्रक्टर, ट्रांसपोर्ट एवं टेक्नोलॉजीज सुगम्य होंगी। जब लोग पालिसी बदलने की बात करेंगे तब अधिकार मिलेगा। ‘स्वयम’ इसी मिशन को लेकर आगे बढ़ रहा है।

सरकार का कितना सहयोग रहा है आपके मिशन में?

सरकार का सहयोग स्वयम के लिए बहुत ज़रूरी है क्यूँकि इतने विशाल देश के आधारभूत ढाँचे को सुगम्य बनाना किसी एक व्यक्ति या संस्था के बस की बात नही। वर्तमान सरकार ‘सुगम्य भारत अभियान’ को लांच करके हमें जागरूकता फ़ैलाने का मौका दिया। अगर हम सब अपनी शारीरिक परिस्थितियों के बावजूद एक साथ विकास के लिए चल पड़े तो वो दिन दूर नहीं जब हमारा देश फिर से ‘सोने की चिड़िया’ कहलाएगा।

जब आपकी सरकार ‘सबका साथ सबका विकास’ की बात करती है तो वो तभी होगा जब सही मायनों में सम्मिलित सर्व शिक्षा अभियान, स्वच्छ भारत, सुगम्य भारत के अन्तर्गत साफ़ और सुगम्य टॉयलेट और इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर और यातायात होगा।

‘स्वयम’ का आगे का क्या प्लान है?

स्वयम सरकार के साथ मिलकर देश को सुगम्य बनाने के लिए पूरी तरह समर्पित और कार्यरत है। हम नेशनल बिल्डिंग कोड (NBC) के अलावा ब्यूरो ऑफ़ इंडियन स्टैंडर्ड्स (BIS) द्वारा स्मार्ट सिटीज मिशन के लिए बनायीं गयी समिति के भी मेंबर हैं। हम केंद्रीय लोक निर्माण विभाग (CPWD) साथ भी हमारे कई प्रोजेक्ट्स चल रहे हैं। पहले भी हम सरकारी डिपार्टमेंट्स जैसे लोक निर्माण विभाग (PWD) और नई दिल्ली नगर निगम (NDMC) के साथ कई बड़े प्रोजेक्ट्स कर चुके हैं।

हवाई यात्रा सुगम्य बनाने के लिए नागरिक उड्डयन मंत्रालय एवं सामाजिक न्याय और अधिकारिता मंत्रालय को हमने CAR (हवाई नियम) को बदलने के लिए कई रेकमेंडेशन्स दिए हैं, और उम्मीद करते हैं की उन्हें जल्द नए CAR में शामिल किया जायेगा।

अभी हमने दिल्ली मेट्रो के अमान्तरण पर उनके 10 मेट्रो स्टेशन को बुज़ुर्गों, महिलाओं, बच्चो, बीमारों एवं दिव्यांगों के लिए सुगम्य बनाने के लिए एक्सेस ऑडिट किया है, जिसका रेकमेंडेशन्स तैयार किया जा रहा है।

इसके अलावा वाराणसी के घाटों को सुगम्य बनाए के लिए हमें आमंत्रित किआ गया था। इन घाटों का एक्सेस ऑडिट संपन्न हो चूका है और रेकमेंडेशन्स भी सबमिट करने के कगार पर हैं।

आहार विहार के पाठकों को सुगम्यता के बारे में आप क्या सलाह देना चाहेंगीं?

जब लोग विकलांग हो जाते हैं या बुढ़ापे की वजह से चल फिर नहीं सकते, तो उनके पास दो विकल्प होते हैं – आप क्या कर सकते हैं, और आप क्या नहीं कर सकते हैं। आप जो नहीं कर सकते हैं उसे पछतावा करने के बजाय, महत्वपूर्ण यह है कि आप अपनी मौजूदा क्षमताओं पर ध्यान केंद्रित करें और देखें कि आप उन क्षमताओं के साथ क्या कर सकते हैं। इसके लिए सुगम्यता के बारे में बोध होना और उसके प्रति कार्यरत होना और आवाज़ उठाना ज़रूरी है।

हम सभी को वास्तविकता को स्वीकार करना होगा और इसके लिए पूर्ण रूप से तैयार भी रहना होगा। हमें सोचना होगा कि भारतवर्ष में 65 प्रतिशत जनसंख्या 35 वर्ष से कम आयु वाले लोगों की है। जब वो बुज़ुर्ग हो जायेंगें तो क्या उन्हें सुगम्य इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर नहीं चाहिए?

अगर एक  समावेशी समाज हमें बनाना है तो ‘सुगम्यता’ हमारे लिए “रोटी, कपडा और मकान” की तरह बेहद ज़रूरी होना चाहिए। आपकी मैगज़ीन का नाम भी ‘आहार विहार’ है। उम्मीद है इसके ज़रिये काफी लोगों तक मेरी बात पहुंचेगी और सुगम्य विहार के कैंपेन को  बल मिलेगा।

इस नेक काम में हर इंसान की मदद चाहिए तभी ये एक ‘क्रांति’ बन पायेगा और मुझे पूरा विश्वास है कि जिस तरह ‘हरित क्रांति’ एवं ‘श्वेत क्रांति’ आई, उसी तरह  अब हम सब मिलकर ‘सुगम्य क्रांति’ लेकर आएगें।

Link for full magazine:  Aahar Vihar Magazine Sep 2018

 

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Svayam’s suggestions find place in TRAI’s Full Recommendations on making ICT Accessible for Persons with Disabilities

We are happy to share that most of the suggestions made by Svayam on Consultation Paper on ‘Making ICT accessible for Persons with Disabilities’ have found place in the  Full Recommendations released by TRAI on 09 July 2018.  

July 09, 2018 | New Delhi

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued a Consultation Paper on  ‘Making ICT Accessible for Persons with Disabilities’ dated 20 December 2017.  Stakeholders were requested to send their comments by 22 January 2018, and counter comments by 05 February 2018.

Svayam, as a leading accessibility rights organization, was on the forefront in submitting its comments and recommendations, as well as counter comments.

Open House Discussion by TRAI on Consultation Paper on making ICT Accessible for Persons with Disabilities

Open House Discussion organised by TRAI on 05 Apr 2018

Later, TRAI held an open house discussion on 05th April 2018, where Svayam team participated and strengthened its case for accessible information and communication technologies (ICT), and why its recommendations should be considered for framing a policy for Inclusive ICT for all. 

The Full Recommendations released by TRAI have been submitted to the Government of India for framing a National Policy. 

Svayam’s Suggestions which became part of TRAI’s Recommendations:     

Many ideas and comments submitted by Svayam have found place in TRAI’s recommendations; some of them are given below:

2.3: All 21 disabilities listed under the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016‘should be covered under any proposed framework. Cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities, locomotive disabilities, and degenerative diseases should also be incorporated into any proposed framework.

2.18: The Authority (TRAI) recommends that in order to ensure accessibility of ICT services to the PwDs a steering committee under aegis of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities should be formed.

2.19: Access to assistive technologies: In order to ensure barrier-free interaction with the digital world, it is essential that assistive technologies are free or available at a low cost through subsidies or grants. It is imperative to either make devices accessible or ensure that devices are compatible with third party assistive technologies. There is also a need for training of PwDs and those who assist them on the use of technologies and features made available.

Accessible services and interfaces: To ensure complete and equal participation in the digital world, PwDs require services and interfaces that ensure that content on television, Internet or in other electronic media is available in accessible formats – for instance, through the use of closed captions for users who are deaf or hard of hearing and audio description for users who are blind or visually impaired. There is also need to undertake awareness campaigns on the availability of accessible content.

Inaccessible customer services: PwDs face challenges accessing customer services offered by telecom service providers. Customer services need to be redesigned to addresses the specific needs of persons with disabilities.

2.29: In India, RPWD Act,2016 envisaged that there is need to take measures to ensure that all content available in audio, print and electronic media are in accessible format. So far as ICT accessibility is concerned the Authority is of the view that the telecom service providers need to provide telephone/DTH bills to the PWDs in accessible form based on their choice. For the persons with low vision, telephone/mobile bills can be provided in large font size, blind persons can opt to get the telephone bill in Braille script.

2.44: The Authority is of the view that every service provider (TSPs/MSO/DTH) should have dedicated customer support desk meant only for PwDs so that any call received from them should be directed/diverted to that desk.

2.45: Apart from having a dedicated desk it is also important to ensure that the customer support/service staff employed by TSPs and broadcasters are adequately trained to assist PwDs in accessing the services and devices designed for them.

2.46 (d): TSPs, MSOs/DTH and PSAP operators should ensure that the executives that deal with PwD customers have been given sensitivity training from time to time so as to understand and deal with the issue raised by PwDs.

2.51: The Authority recommends that DoT and MIB may instruct TSPs and DTH/MSOs to conduct frequent awareness campaigns regarding issues of accessibility, design, affordability and information pertaining to assistive products available to PwDs and the various government policies/schemes pertaining to accessible ICT that can be availed by PwDs.

2.52: The universal design principles should be adopted instead of developing a model specifically for PwDs.

2.54: The Authority is of the view that every mobile manufacturer who produces 5 or more different models of mobile handsets should provide at least one mobile handset satisfying the accessibility criteria for PwDs.

2.55: the Authority recommends every mobile manufacturer who produces 5 or more different models of mobile handsets should provide at least one mobile handset satisfying the accessibility criteria for PwDs as enumerated in the recommendations.

2.67: The Authority recommends that the Government should mandate all the government agencies that in procurement of ICT products viz Computer hardware, mobile phones, Set Top Boxes, it should be mandatory that these are accessible to PwDs.

2.90: Grips for improved stability (mobile phones)

Chapter-III – Summary of recommendations:

3:2: The Authority recommends that in order to ensure accessibility of ICT services to the PwDs a steering committee under aegis of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities should be formed.

3.2 (c): Formulate guidelines and suggest an implementation and monitoring mechanism so as to improve ICT accessibility for PwDs.

3.5 (b): TSPs, MSOs and DTH Operators should have a special desk in their Call Centres/Customer support centres where calls received from special category numbers are routed to this specialised desk which should be manned by person(s) to receive calls from PwDs using assistive technologies.

3.5 (d): TSPs, MSOs/DTH and PSAP operators should ensure that the executives that deal with PwD customers have been given sensitivity training from time to time so as to understand and deal with the issues raised by PwDs.

3.7: Every mobile manufacturer who produces 5 or more different models of mobile handsets should provide at least one mobile handset satisfying the accessibility criteria for PwDs as enumerated in the recommendations. This may be achieved by the end of 2020.

3.9: The Authority recommends that the Government should mandate all government agencies that in procurement of ICT products viz Computer hardware, mobile phones, Set Top Boxes, it should be mandatory that these are accessible to PwDs.

3.11 (d): Closed captioning control and display options.

3.12: The Authority recommends that broadcasting channels may be developed in accessible format too for PwDs with audio & visual impairment.

We hope that recommendations submitted by TRAI would soon be accepted by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) Govt. of India for framing a national policy which is crucial for standardization of Inclusive ICT Norms. It will help include a large segment of  persons with disabilities in the mainstream., which as per the World Bank Report (2007) titled ‘People with Disabilities in India: from Commitments to Outcomes’, comprise between 4 and 8 percent of the Indian population. 

Also, the population of senior citizens is about 10-12 % of the total population which is  expected to grow more than 2.8 per cent and make up one-fifth of the total population by 2025-2030. (Report by WHO). Accessibility of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play a great role in not only improving the quality of life but also tapping the potentials of such a huge number of India’s citizenry.

For achieving a truly inclusive information society, persons with disabilities must be able to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) with equal ease. This can be made possible only if the accessibility of ICTs is on the top of the agenda of manufacturers and service providers. Though, it makes business sense to attract persons with disabilities with ICTs having accessibility features, manufacturers failed to tap this opportunity.  Hence, a stringent policy is required to ensure persons with disabilities get what they need. A comprehensive plan is needed to adopt accessible operating system for product development and service divisions to include everyone.

Downloads Available 

(a) Full Recommendations by TRAI to the DoT, 09 July 2018

(b) Svayam’s Comments submitted to TRAI, Jan 2018

 

Posted in Access to Television, Accessibility in Banks and ATMs, ICT for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, Persons with Disabilities | Leave a comment

Svayam partners with Election Commission of India (ECI) for Accessible & Inclusive Elections

New Delhi | 04 July 2018

To ensure accessible and inclusive elections, the Election Commission of India has for the first time engaged with the civil society seeking their expertise, assistance and recommendations while taking several other concrete steps to make the dream of inclusive election a reality. Towards this endeavour, the ECI partnered with country’s top civil society organizations (CSOs) including Svayam. An active role was played by Ms. Smitha Sadasivan, Consultant, ECI in this endeavour.

Photo Caption: Chief Election Commissioner Shri OP Rawat, (fifth from left) in the presence of Election Commissioners Shri Sunil Arora (fourth from left) and Shri Ashok Lavasa. (fourth from right) at the National Consultation on Accessible Elections

Photo Caption: Chief Election Commissioner Shri OP Rawat, (fifth from left) in the presence of Election Commissioners Shri Sunil Arora (fourth from left) and Shri Ashok Lavasa. (fourth from right) at the National Consultation on Accessible Elections

Post its deliberation with the CSOs, the ECI decided to hold a two-day “National Consultation on Accessible Elections” on 3-4 July 2018 at the Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi. The event was inaugurated by Chief Election Commissioner Shri OP Rawat, in the presence of Election Commissioners Shri Sunil Arora and Shri Ashok Lavasa. During the inaugural session, a dedicated portal for the ECI’s ‘Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation’ (SVEEP) initiative was also launched.

In the consultation, Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Director, Svayam, presented the recommendations on behalf of Svayam towards making elections more accessible and inclusive.

Consultation Reader:

Front page of the Consultation Reader published by the Election Commission of India

Consultation Reader published by ECI

A conference reader was published by the Election Commission of India which contained the major recommendations made by partner VSOs. Click here for a copy of the Conference Reader.

A brief profile of Svayam and its recommendation appear from page __ to ___ in the consultation reader.

Proceedings : In the two day deliberations the CEOs of different states, stakeholders from all over India and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) sat together and mulled over the challenges faced by people with reduced mobility and those with disabilities in independently using their right to franchise and discussed effective strategies to remove the barriers in a time bound manner.

The venue of the Consultation had a small exhibition showing the ECI’s work in promoting inclusion, a Model Accessible Polling Booth. The venue was designed as accessible with a ramp leading to the stage and provisions of good signage and simultaneous signage language interpretation of the event.

The Election Commission of India developed a Strategic Framework on Accessible Elections which was formally released by the Chief Election Commissioner during the closing session of the event.

The event was a part of the ECI’s larger mission to ‘leave no voter behind,’ with a special focus on ‘Persons with Disabilities’ (PwD). The theme of the event was ‘Inclusion of PwD’s’. It has been given a special focus in the ECI’s Strategic Plan 2016-2025. Also, “Accessible Elections” has been adopted as ECI’s central theme for this year’s National Voters’ Day celebrations.

The event aimed to identify the barriers or gaps in the inclusion of PwD’s in the electoral process, in order to assess the existing accessibility initiatives and find solutions for the challenges being faced by them.  The main objective was to enhance the participation of the Persons with Disabilities in the upcoming state and Lok Sabha elections.

Participants: The participants at the event included the Chief Electoral Officers of all states, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in the area of empowerment of the differently-abled and senior officials of the Union Ministries of Social Justice & Empowerment, Information & Broadcasting, Electronics and Information Technology, Youth Affairs and Sports, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Central Public Works Department and the National Literacy Mission Authority.

The Election Commission handed over the first “braille enabled voter identity card” to a voter with blindness and shared that it will soon issue braille voter identity cards to all visually-challenged electors across the country who opt for it. Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said the commission has decided to establish auxiliary polling stations during elections for the people with disabilities.

Mobile app launch: The Chief Election Commissioner Shri. O. P. Rawat, along with the Election Commissioners Shri Sunil Arora and Shri Ashok Lavasa also launched a mobile app, called ‘cVIGIL’ for citizens to report any violation of the model code of conduct during elections through which videos and photos of any poll code violations could be reports to ECI in real times including lack of accessibility or any other barrier faced by voters with disabilities.

Disability Coordinators: Mr. Rawat said “disability coordinators” will be appointed at the assembly constituency, district and state levels. The CEC said the commission will also make available all election-related awareness material in accessible formats for such voters. Rawat said photo voter slips will also be made in accessible formats for them.

Sign language windows: For the use of the hearing-impaired voters, sign language windows will be provided in all audio-visual training and awareness content of the commission, he said. In his address, Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said, “We should go far beyond the bureaucratic measures to overcome the barriers. Technology has the capability to fill the gaps and it shall be explored to its fullest potential.”

Voting from Home: The Election Commission is also thinking about various new- age methods to make elections more accessible; this includes advance voting or early voting, voting from home, postal vote, transport assistance or mobile polling station concept, provided these do not compromise the sanctity and secrecy of vote.

As per the strategic framework finalised at the national consultation on accessible elections, the commission also agreed to examine the scope and need for legislative measures to enhance electoral participation of physically-challenged people.

The framework — based on the premise of ‘no voter to be left behind’ — was drawn up in consultation with representative of national parties, government ministries/ departments, disability experts and civil society organisations. The ECI will examine the feasibility of allowing persons with disabilities to vote before general voting hours so as to save them the trouble of having to queue up. The possibility of extending the postal ballot facility to differently-abled people will also be weighed. Also, persons with disabilities, who will be mapped by the EC constituency and polling station-wise, may be facilitated with transportation to the polling station or could be allowed to vote at mobile polling stations in the days to come.

Some of these measures may require amendments to election laws or conduct of election rules. The EC will also ensure that special measures aimed at boosting participation of physically-challenged voters meet the essential requirements of sanctity and secrecy of vote.

Braille & sign language: The EC had last week announced steps aimed at better involvement of differently-abled voters in the electoral process. This included printing of electoral photo identity cards in Braille, mobile app to educate and motivate voters with disabilities, sign language window for deaf voters and free transport facility for them along with their assistants.

Mapping: The commission will be taking further steps including identifying barriers to participation of disabled voters and finding solutions, mapping of PwDs through mapping or initial voter registration, customized voter education to cater to different requirements of PwDs, developing user-friendly websites for PwDs of different categories, engaging the help of government and civil society organisations for capacity building and constitution of special committees on accessible elections.

Photo caption: Background banner having logos of partner organizations including Svayam

Photo caption: Background banner having logos of partner organizations including Svayam

Svayam’s Recommendations to ECI:

  1. Accessible polling stations at the ground floor, including, wide entrance, adequate & dedicated parking within 30 meters, levelled / obstacles free pathways; ramps, signage, direction signs, pictograms of PS, lighting, wheelchair, toilets, drinking water facility, seating arrangement and а/vs to be as per access standards, as mandated in the Rules of the RPDA 2016. EVM chamber should meet access standards like wheel chair manoeuvring space, height of table, proper signage, ample illumination as well as contrast, auditory clues and so on. Specific reasonable accommodations
  2. In the EVM, the party symbols need to be provided in tactile format such that a visually impaired person can touch and know what it is. There should be a provision where a voter with visual impairment can connect an earphone so that he/she could hear what they have pressed. Long cables that enable adjusting EVMs, approach to EVM from sideways for people of short stature, etc, to be worked out as there is difficulty in reaching the topmost icon.
  3. An easy read version of candidate / ballot sheet, with large pictures, should be hung or kept near the EVM for people with low vision/ intellectual disabilities / high support needs. Alternative methods of casting a ballot such as – Touch screens, a handheld device with Braille labels, magnifiers, joystick, etc need to be considered for all 21 types of disabilities, according to one’s requirement.
  4. Postal ballot, mobile ballot units (including polling vans to have scheduled stops at hospitals/ rehab institutions to enable participation of people admitted/working, etc), sms voting facility enabled during poll hours and online voting options need to be explored.
  5. Allocation of budget to be made for raising awareness on accessible electoral process too.
  6. Selection of election ambassador with disability and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) / Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) for support can to be facilitated through the district committee under Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and election commission.
  7. Election Commission should hire persons with disabilities including women with disabilities as polling officers in all districts.
  8. Election Commission of India should issue a circular mandating all political parties to make their communication (websites, manifestos, speeches), their offices, venues, etc to be accessible/ in all accessible formats for all persons with disabilities.
  9. Election Commission of India should issue a circular to the media (TV etc) to make their information accessible.
  10. Election Observer’s checklist to include indicators on accessible electoral process for persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities can be engaged as observers too.
  11. Specific provision of punitive measure for non-compliance of the notices / guidelines or directives regarding “accessibility for persons with disabilities / Women with Disabilities in the electoral process” by the stakeholders including election commission, should be a part of the ECI policy, including well defined monitoring mechanism for implementation.
  12. Human Resource at polling booths (all polling officers, volunteers, police personnel, etc) need to be sensitized and trained on interacting with and providing service to voters with disabilities. Each polling station must have women volunteers / trained lady police to help the women voters with disabilities.
  13. Consider providing a dummy Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to educate voters with disabilities on operating the EVM to cast their vote.
  14. Ensure pedestrian and sidewalk accessibility of polling stations
  15. Polling station should have accessible pictograms. Directional signage to be provided to orient electors with disabilities
  16. Should have provision of human assistance.
  17. Service animal/guide dogs should be allowed along with electors with disability during vote caste.
  18. Develop a robust checklist to ensure polling stations are accessible to disabled / elderly voters
  19. Awareness regarding the electoral rights of persons with disabilities, about the manner in which these citizens can exercise their right to vote and access justice and redress in case of violation of rights.
  20. Priority to be given to electors with disability for entering the polling station, without having wait time.

Examples of Good Practices (by Svayam):

  1. Goa Assembly elections 2017 enabled a polling booth fully manned by persons with disabilities.
  2. Sign language interpreter was assigned to control room with video call facility during by-Elections to Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly constituency, Chennai in 2017
  3. During 2017 Punjab assembly elections, disability district coordinators (PwDs) were provided id cards from respective district administrations to conduct access audit of polling booths based on an accessible polling booths checklist prepared by Disability Rights Alliance India. The coordinators were also accompanied by staff from the district revenue offices in their office vehicles. The reports presented were acted upon in many polling booths.
  4. CEO TN’ s efforts during 2016 assembly elections where election street plays incorporated a sign language interpreter was much appreciated by Deaf groups. A locally made access audit app enabled access audit of most polling booths in Chennai and its reporting to CEO’s server, very simple and easy.

Election Commissioner Shri Ashok Lavasa remarked that the set of recommendations (submitted by Svayam and other organizations) will be examined thoroughly and efforts will be made to implement them in a time-bound manner. 

 

Posted in Accessible Elections, Accessible India Campaign, Persons with Disabilities, Svayam, Svayam India | Leave a comment