Guidelines to make disabled friendly public spaces mooted by Delhi Govt

New hotels and motels should have at least two rooms “preferably on ground floor” for wheel-chair users and every theatre, movie or assembly hall should have provision for a minimum of six seating spaces for such persons. These are some of the guidelines that have been prescribed by the urban development ministry for architects and those who own or manage such public spaces to make them accessible for the elderly and people with disabilities.

The ministry has come out with the final draft of the harmonized guidelines and space standards for barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities in urban areas considering that cities provide abundant opportunities and experiences but the built environment imposes obstacles for such people.

The designs and specifications, which form part of the guidelines, aim at ensuring all public spaces including hospitals, offices, bus and railways stations, hotels, restaurants, sports facilities, libraries and shopping complexes cater to the needs of this category of users. One of the focus areas is to ensure that there is adequate provision for toilets in each and every floor of such complexes for their convenience.

“We have put all the guidelines together with specifications including the size of the door, entry and exit points to make it easy for them to use such facilities. There are also specific guidelines to cater to the need of visually challenged persons and hearing impaired persons as well,” a ministry official said. He added this will work as the reference book for all.

While new buildings should incorporate these norms, there is also enough scope for old buildings to be retrofitted. “New buildings should ensure full accessibility from planning stage itself,” the official said.

The final draft guidelines also specify norms for placement of fire alarm boxes, emergency call buttons and lighted panels, installation of audible alarms with ‘voice instructions’ that can help guide people to the nearest emergency exit. As an alternative to pre-recorded messages, these alarms may be connected to the central control room for broadcasts.

The Persons with Disability Act mandates that people with disabilities be provided with equal opportunities and protects their rights to full participation and the also mandate that barrier-free environment is maintained to ensure inclusive cities and universal designs.

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