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All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation starts online campaign for accessible tourist locations

The All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation started a campaign on 16 October to make all tourist locations in the state accessible and disabled friendly. They started off with Athirapally and nearby Vazhachal and Thumboormozhi. Accompanied by officials, members of AKWRF visited all the three places to point out how they can be made more accessible for tourists on wheelchairs.

The All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF), an organisation that works towards empowering wheelchair users in the state, has been working on many activities in the past couple of years. Now, they are geared up towards ensuring that all tourist locations in Kerala are made accessible and disabled-friendly. Athirapally, one of the most prominent tourist locations is where AKWRF members are currently working on. They also visited adjacent Vazhachal and Thumboormuzhi. On 16 October, members from across Kerala started a campaign to make these places accessible at the earliest.

AKWRF members pointed out that they had a lot of support from the local forest officials who assured that speedy action and necessary steps will be taken at the earliest. All the members went in their wheelchairs to tourist destinations accompanied by officials. Reportedly, the initial works to create wheelchair ramps and pathways has already begun.

Rajeev Palluruthy, Secretary, AKWRF is hopeful that the officials will make decisions and implement them without further delays.

In the coming days, we are going to focus on tourist locations at each district of Kerala and will give petitions to concerned authorities. When we visited these places we realised that there are no pathways for wheelchair users to get there. We also want a wheelchair at the main entrance so that if someone comes without their wheelchairs, they cans still enter. There must also be accessible restrooms and wheelchair ramps. These are our basic rights that the government must ensure-Rajeev Palluruthy, Secretary, AKWRF.

Other members of AKWRF team including Vasunni Pattazhi, Zakeer Hussain, Badarusaman, and Riyas were also present to start off the campaign. "We visited three locations and have informed officials of what we need. A wheelchair user must be able to witness beauty of the place without any hassles. Currently, due to inaccessibility, we are unable to fully enjoy it", says Kavitha Keshavan, Secretary, Thrissur wing.

Lately, there has been widespread criticism that tourists with disabilities who visit famous locations in Kerala are unable to experience its beauty fully due to inaccessibility. Since the holiday season is nearing, officials are also gearing up to ensure accessible and disabled friendly tourist spots.

Also Read: Kerala government's upcoming inclusive university gets thumbs up from disability rights groups

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