Panaji: Only three of 31 buildings and public spaces surveyed by the accessibility auditors from Pune, under the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities’ Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) have received ‘satisfactory’ accessibility ratings.
The offices of the director of tourism, Goa Tourism Development Corporation, directorate of art and culture fared better than 28 others. The director of tourism andGoa Tourism Development Corporation both housed in the Paryatan Bhavanbuilding at Patto, Panaji, received brownie points for its accessible entrance, stairs with handrails, toilets, elevator while the directorate of art and culture at Sankruti Bhavan scored for its good drinking water facility, facilities for emergency evacuation, accessible entrance, elevator, corridors, library furniture, toilets and signage.
Majority of the buildings didn’t make the mark for the lack of kerb cuts/kerb ramp in footpaths, beepers or audio signals, and tactile guidance in footpaths at the entrance. The accessibility auditors from Universal Design Centre, BNCA, Pune, have provided detailed recommendations along with specifications for each of the buildings and public spaces to ensure that these are made fully-accessible.
For Kadamba bus stand, the auditors have recommended renovation of toilet blocks, accessible toilets, a new accessible cafeteria, handrails for ramps and steps, relocation of the information counter, accessible ticket counters, accessible drinking water fountain and audio signage and emergency evacuation provisions.
At the Panaji head post office, recommendations include a pedestrian pathway, accessible toilets and renovation of existing toilets, handrails for ramps and steps, accessible reception, drinking water facility, reserved waiting for wheelchair users, accessible door hardware, furniture without sharp corners, directional signage and maps.
All five beaches surveyed fared poorly in the audit, with no accessible routes from the entrance of the beach leading to the sea, insufficient and inaccessible directional signage, haphazard parking of vehicles blocking the entrance, stalls encroaching the pathway and no sand-free walkways including beach mats to allow wheelchair users access to the water.
The auditors have recommended that there be no barriers between the pathway, that boardwalk or beach mats be provided leading to the sea, that clear wheelchair parking space be provided, that accessible directional multilingual and tactile signage be provided as per standards.
Other buildings and spaces that fared poorly included Goa University, regional employment exchange, Kala Academy, Ambedkar Park, Panaji Children’s Park, directorate of panchayats, science centre, social welfare department, district and sessions court and the office of the district registrar-cum-head of registrar and notary services, among others.
The audit was conducted based on harmonized guidelines which are the standard for accessibility. Project head for the Accessible India Campaign Abhijit Murugkartold TOI that people often think ramps are equal to accessibility but this is just a small part of making buildings accessible.
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