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According to Census 2011, there are 2.68 crore persons with disabilities in India, who constitute 2.21% of the total population.However, estimates vary across sources and in reality this figure could be much higher.
Accessibility is the key to inclusion and equal access for people with disabilities. An accessible barrier-free environment is the first step towards fulfilling the right of people with disabilities to participate in all areas of community life.
Accessibility for people with disabilities was recognized as a right in India with the passage of The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act in 1995, which mandated barrier-free access in all public places and transportation systems. India is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Article 9 of UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.
The Government envisions having an inclusive society in which equal opportunities and access is provided for the growth and development of persons with disabilities to lead productive, safe and dignified lives. In furtherance of this vision, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has launched the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), as a nationwide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities and to create an enabling and barrier free environment, with a focus on three verticals: Built Environment; Public Transportation and Information & Communication Technologies.
Apart from the targets specific to the three verticals on enhancing the proportion of accessible government buildings, public transportation and of accessible and usable public documents and websites that meet internationally recognized accessibility standards, the Campaign is also in the process of developing a web portal along with a mobile application for creating a crowd sourcing platform to comprehensively obtain information about inaccessible places, processing information for approving proposals and channelizing CSR resources for creating of accessible spaces. An Accessibility Index is also underway to which is envisioned to serve as a tool to assess the extent to which the processes and systems of an organization are aligned to ensure independent, dignified and positive dealing with employees and clients with disabilities.
The campaign will be officially launched on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by the Hon’ble Prime Minister at VigyanBhavan, New Delhi.