Accessibility September 13, 2020
Blue-E hopes to bridge barriers by providing accessibility solutions
Blue-E, a team that provides accessibility solutions for disabled people, was started last month. Though they are based in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the team is planning to spread wings pan India. They are also going to cater to accessibility needs of people with all kinds of disabilities. This innovative initiative will hopefully bridge accessibility barriers.
Aslam* (name has been changed) is a wheelchair user from Kerala who has a permanent spinal cord damage after he met with an accident four years back. Aslam wants to spend time outdoors, go to public places and even meet new people. He says that all his dreams were shattered due to lack of accessible spaces along with the non-disabled friendly attitudes of people. Blue-E accessibility services based in Kerala aims to bride such barriers. Founded by four people from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Blue-E has started their operations to ensure that people with disabilities can lead a normal life with no accessibility hassles.
Lack of accessible public spaces
Just like how India’s disabled community is sidelined by mainstream society, their needs and demands are also not given importance. Mohammad Shanil, a wheelchair user and one of the co-founders of Blue-E says that almost 99 percent places remain inaccessible. Disabled people are forced to stay indoors. The two month lockdown was a tough time for many people. But in the case of disabled people, every day is locked down because they are unable to go out.
Shanil says that the ratio in which wheelchair ramps are to be constructed in public places is 1:12. But clearly, that is not how they are built. “If they want wheelchair users to benefit from ramps, they have to build it according to the given norms. We started Blue-E because there is nothing to foresee accessibility and related problems”, says Shanil.
What makes things worse are that in spite of having a ramp, wheelchair users are forced to seek help of by-standers. “They have to help us push the wheelchair. This makes us look like people who need help all the time when that is not the actual case”, adds Shanil. All these are reasons why the team wants disability consultants to be there. As they put it, when they have a disabled consultant, they would understand the needs and requirements of community members.
An innovative initiative
Blue-E was started last month with the sole aim of providing accessibility audits, design appraisals, design and implementation and consultation. The team will have audit engineers on-board.
The founders of Blue-E includes Mohammad Shanil, Febin Jose and Vignesh, all of them who are people with disabilities. 18-year-old Gazan Moideen, who does not have a disability, is also one of the founders.
Their website has already been launched. The team is soon going to create a mobile app where they give ratings to hotels, malls, buildings and other public places so that people with disabilities can access the place easily.
Gazan , who is currently pursuing his class 12 has a reason to be part of the team. “At school, I have seen my disabled classmates struggling to attend labs. Our labs are located on the top floors and it is impossible for wheelchair users to access them. For science students, labs are an integral part of their curriculum. Turn around and we find this inaccessibility everywhere. That is what prompted me to do something about it and I decided to join on-board Blue-E”, he says.
Gazan, who has been sensitised about disabilities at a young age has got it right already!
You can check out their website here at https://bluee.co.in/.
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