Inaccessible Indian roads make daily travel a nightmare for visually impaired people
Two years after RPWD Act 2016, accessibility of public places remains largely on paper. Barring ramps in some government buildings, most such measures are sheer tokenism and moving around independently is an exercise of sheer nerves, especially for people who are visually impaired.
This comes in the way of visually impaired people participating in community activities as equal citizens. Despite repeated petitions, there are no universal standards to ensure that roads are made accessible for blind people.
Amar Jain, a lawyer and disability rights activist, says that key sections of the RPWD Act 2016 relating to accessibility of public buildings have not been implemented.
There are no prescribed standards to make the roads accessible. In our system, roads and even footpaths are damaged which makes it hard even for a person without a disability to walk around. So public works department (PWD) authorities must join hands to make sure that they fix set standards first. - Amar Jain, Lawyer
No clear standards followed
Undoubtedly, walking on our footpaths is a nerve wracking ordeal for people with all kinds of disabilities. From potholes to uneven steps, the dangers are many. Experts point out that facilities like tactile paving, exclusive spaces for crossing and shared footways are some easy to implement measures.
"Our roads are clearly not accessible for blind people. The Urban Development Ministry had come up with certain features to make roads accessible for blind people. But till date, nothing has been implemented", says , a law student in Gujarat. "Even the upcoming Smart City Project does not have any accessibility features in it. Most of the times, making a place accessible is only about installing wheelchair ramps".
Clearly, the approach to accessibility has to be holistic, taking into account the needs of people with all types of disabilities. A ramp and a tactile path in a few odd places does not include take into account the needs of the blind community as a whole.