New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) The Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry (SJEM) on Wednesday asked the states and the union territories to ensure availability of basic physical accessibility features for disabled persons as per reasonable accommodation in COVID-19 testing centres, quarantine facilities and hospitals.
In a letter to the chief secretaries of the states and UTs, department of empowerment of persons with disabilities (DEPwD) Secretary Shakuntala D Gamlin said the current COVID-19 crisis poses a greater threat to the disabled persons not just due to their lesser or compromised immunity and ability to perceive or comprehend information but also due to the non-availability of accessibility features in the physical environment and eco-system provided at coronavirus-related facilities.
The DEPwD, under the SJEM, has already published guidelines concerning information dissemination in alternative accessible formats, priority treatment for the persons with disabilities (PwDs) and provisions of safety, healthy living and hygiene for PwDs, attendants, care-givers and accessible service providers, like sign language interpreters, she said.
'In addition, it is also necessary that basic physical accessibility features are ensured, as per reasonable accommodation in the centres for COVID-19 testing and quarantine facilities as well as for treatment at hospitals and health centres,' Gamlin added.
States/UTs are requested to urgently initiate necessary action to ensure these basic features of accessibility are provided so that PwDs, persons with restricted mobility and those dependent upon attendants/caregivers are not inconvenienced further, especially during the times of this pandemic, the senior officer said.
The basic features of accessibility suggested by DEPwD are: all operating and control mechanisms and self-operated devices (sanitiser dispensers, glove cases, soaps, wash basins) are placed within approachable reach of PwDs, especially for wheelchair users.
Graphical and simple, prominent signage as per standard requirements of colour and contrast are put up. Ramps (gradient 1:12) with railings are provided. At least one low height accessible counter at reception, testing areas and pharmacies are the other suggestions by the DEPwD. PTI JBL AQS AQS