Changemaker Series is our blog series which will capture stories in the format of Q&A to introduce our thought leaders and changemakers to the wider society. These stories capture essence of inclusivity, accessibility & change especially focusing on persons with disability.
We got talking with Shivani Gupta, Founder, AccessAbility and this is what she has to say about accessibility, change and our campaign approach.
What is accessibility to you?

Accessibility to me is a pre-requisite to participation and inclusion for anybody. The scope of accessibility cannot be limited only persons with disabilities in fact it benefits each person in the society and must be addressed that way.

Your thoughts on Accessible India campaign?

It’s the first time accessibility as an issue is getting such a focus so I am quite excited. I see this campaign as Shivani Gupta, Access Abilitya beginning. While the campaign has set targets, I do hope the focus continues and we are able to bring systemic changes to improve accessibility throughout the country rather than just in the identified cities.

Tell us more about AccessAbility and what does it do?

AccessAbility is a consultancy working towards inclusion of persons with disabilities by supporting service providers or employers to make their infrastructure and services more accessible to clients or employees with disabilities.

According to you, in what ways can local communities and people contribute to the campaign?

Local communities and people at large are one of the most important stakeholders in the campaign in my opinion. To accept, respect and maintain the accessibility provided is on them. For instance, if kerb ramps are provided on pavements, often authorities barricade them to restrict miss use by two wheelers. The lack of respect by community members of that accessibility provision results in negating the benefit of having the kerb ramp.

What expectations do you have from accessible India mobile app and portal?

I do not have much information about it. I believe anyone can take pictures of inaccessible places and share them on the app. In my opinon if a portal is developed then it should be content heavy and address accessibility aspects from the multi-dimensional perspective of B to B, B to C and C to C and of course the role and involvement of the government. It may provide information like how to make a place accessible. Information on accessible services, vendors list of where to buy accessibility products from, user sharing space etc.

What do you think about travel accessibility? How do people with disability travel across India w.r.t difficulties they face due to infrastructure?

Public transport is a very important aspect for travel and participation. Unfortunately, none of our public transports systems whether they be inter-city or inter-state aren’t really accessible. The metro perhaps is moving in the right direction but that too doesn’t allow independent travel for a very large number of persons with disabilities. Since transport is so inaccessible, persons with disabilities get either home bound or have to pay a higher price to travel (by taxi or by air)

Lastly, your thoughts on importance of freedom, equality & mobility for people with disability?

Freedom, equality and mobility can be seen as constitutional rights given to all citizens of our country. The reason they are guaranteed to us is because they are important human rights. For persons with disabilities their relevance remains the same and are as important to us as they are for non-disabled persons.

Three Suggestions for accessibility beyond AIC

The AIC should collect enough information to then bring major systemic changes to improve accessibility across. Some suggests are:

  • Accessibility to be adopted in building bylaws of all states and union territories. Accessibility standards for buildings, transport, ICT, service etc to be nationally applicable
  • Course curriculum of professions (architects, engineers, designers, planners, developers etc) to have universal design as a minor but core subject
  • Public procurement act and regulations must ensure that all tenders have accessibility compliance as one mandatory component to be met

About Accessible India Campaign:

Accessible India Campaign is a nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility for people with disabilities by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities)

Follow us on twitter @MSJE_AIC and email to nominate a changemaker for our upcoming blog interviews.


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