Make Public Places Accessible To Visually Disabled: SC

The Supreme Court has issued some important directives and set deadlines to make public places easily accessible for visually disabled persons.

The Supreme Court fixed a timeline for the Centre and states to make public places accessible to the differently abled, particularly the blind, and passed a slew of directions to bring them into the mainstream of society.

Petition before the apex court referred that there are 60-70 million disabled persons in India, almost 50% thereof suffer from visual disability, and the fundamental concern of these visually impaired persons is safe accessibility to movement on footpaths and accessibility to roads and transport.

With regard to the Disabilities Act, 2016, the bench observed as follows:

“One aspect that needs to be highlighted is that whereas Disabilities Act, 1995 put a rider by mentioning that responsibility of the State to provide these facilities is subject to adequate economic resources to bear the expenditure involved in making these facilities disabled friendly, Disabilities Act, 2016 thankfully does not mention any such condition. On the contrary, Section 45 of the Act provides for time limits for making existing infrastructure and premises accessible and action for that purpose. Furthermore, Section 44 casts an obligation on all kinds of establishments i.e. Government as well as private establishments, to mandatorily observe accessible norms while building any structure.”

“It becomes a statutory obligation on the part of the Central Government as well as the State Governments to do the needful by the target dates,” the bench observed.

The Supreme Court has issued the following directives :

-Making 20-50 important government buildings in 50 cities fully accessible by December 2017
-Making 50% of all the govt. buildings of the national capital and all the state capitals fully accessible by December 2018.
-Completing accessibility audit of 50% of govt. buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of states/UTs not covered in targets (i) and (ii) by December 2019.
-Complete accessibility audit of all the international airports and making them fully accessible by December 2016.
-50% of all railway stations to made fully accessible by March 2018.
-10% of government owned public transport carriers are to be made fully accessible by March 2018.
-At least 50% of central and state govt. websites are to meet accessibility standards by March 2017. At least 50% of the public documents are to meet accessibility standards by March 2018.
-Bureau of Indian Standards to embed disability aspect in all relevant parts of revised National Building Code.
-Train additional 200 sign language interpreters by March 2018.
-Advisory Boards to be constituted by all States and Union Territories within a period of three months from now.