Top Goa disability rights group launches accessible neighbourhoods campaign
The Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) has launched a campaign called Make my Neighbourhood Accessible 2020. The aim is to create greater sensitisation about making the immediate surroundings accessible so people with disabilities can be a part of the world around them.
Over three years after the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 came into effect, public places are still far from accessible to people with disabilities. This is coming in the way of equal opportunities for the disabled community. To create greater sensitisation regarding this, the Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG), a leading organisation in the space in the state, has launched a campaign called Make My Neighbourhood Accessible 2020.
Campaign aims to make RPWD Act a reality in Goa
The campaign was launched in Panjim and speaking on the occasion Avelino de Sa, President, DRAG, emphasised upon the need to make the RPWD Act a reality.
The Persons with Disability Act 1995 mandated that all public places should be accessible for persons with disability. The new Act shares the same mandate. It is disappointing that after 25 years of the 1995 Act and three years of RPWD public places are not yet accessible for persons with disability. If there is no accessibility we cannot think about education, employment and entertainment for persons with disability. – Avelino da Sa, President, Disability Rights Association of Goa
LACK OF ACCESSIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE ACTS AS BARRIER FOR DISABLED
Goa has many educated, employed and self-reliant disabled people but lack of accessible infrastructure makes it hard for them to participate in the world around them as equal citizens. “There are also persons with disability who do not get education or employment due to inaccessible infrastructure. Accessible infrastructure promotes inclusion of persons with disability in society”, adds da Sa.
The RPWD Act mandates that all existing public places, including private sector-owned spaces, have to be made accessible within a period of five years of the notification of the Act. That means two more years to ago. If this is not done no occupancy certificates can be issued.
With this in mind, the campaign aims to sensitise the larger public and officials about making the neighbourhood accessible for disabled people. There will be awards for best accessible panchayats and municipality. “We believe that if each one contributes to making their neighbourhood accessible Goa can become accessible within no time”, says a confident da Sa.
“I appreciate the efforts of DRAS and congratulate them for highlighting the responsibility of society towards making the neighbourhood accessible for disabled people”, says Father Maverick Fernandes. He hopes that places of worship will take heed as well. “Religious places of all religions must make their buildings accessible to persons with disability as it is their fundamental right to worship”.
A newsletter with articles written by disabled people has been started by DRAG. This is called DisAbility News and will be released twice a month.