Department of empowerment of persons with disabilities (DEPwD) Secretary Shakuntala Gamlin told PTI on Friday that the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) have joined the AIC "to start ethos of accessibility for disabled in every building, corporate office, educational institute, hospital, historical and cultural centre".
A committee for standardisation of facilities in public places like airports, railway stations/trains and road sector is on the job. Harmonisation of specification and standards of railway coaches, their alignment with platforms, inter platform transfers to lifts and subways are all being posed for better accessibility and quality standards, Gamlin said.
Similarly sensitisation of implementing agencies, organisations, ministries, sub-ordinate offices, attached offices, state governments, judiciary, academia, health, hotel industry and sports bodies on AIC are going on, she added.
The SJEM has fixed March 2020 as the new deadline to complete works in public places and transport services to make them "disabled friendly".
Officials pointed out that for differently abled persons, universal accessibility is critical for enabling them to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society.
Sections 44, 45 and 46 of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 categorically provide for non-discrimination in transport, on the road and in built environment.
Even the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory, under article 9 casts obligations on the governments for ensuring PwDs accessibility to information, transportation, physical environment, communication technology and accessibility to services as well as emergency services.
With the successful launch of AIC, "India has joined the rest of the world, as an inclusive society with universal accessibility, caring for its citizens, accessibility rights and independent living. Physical accessibility related actions will initiate accessibility to education, employment and livelihood helping built a stronger nation", they said.
The AIC is making a steady progress as 18 organisations in 48 cities have been empanelled as access auditors by the DEPwD.
Access audit of 1,662 state government buildings has been completed, they said, adding that grant-in-aid from the social justice and empowerment ministry to the state nodal officers for completing the retrofitting works will be provided.
A Central Advisory Board, headed by Social Justice and Empowerment minister Thawarchand Gehlot, is monitoring the work and the DEPwD is coordinating with various implementing agencies including the state governments, official sources added.