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Conference on Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in India

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ACCEPT. EMBRACE. CELEBRATE.

'ACCESS FOR ALL'

Conference on Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in India

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Title: Conference on the Issue of Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in India

Date: 14th August, 2017

Time: 9:30 am to 1:30 pm

Venue: Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

Organizer: National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)

Supported by: Mphasis

Overview:

It took decades for India to learn the term ‘accessibility’ but, unfortunately, it remained confined to just the disability sector. However, in the recent years, we saw the issue of accessibility being brought outside the disability discourse and into the public realm thanks to the Hon’ble Prime Minister's flagship ‘Accessible India Campaign’ or ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan’. But, India still remains a far cry from being accessible! A case in point would be the inability of the government to successfully converge the Accessible India Campaign with other equally important campaigns and initiatives like Digital India, Make in India, Smart Cities Mission, etc. thereby lacking in various accessibility aspects like Digital Inclusion or Banking Inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Interestingly, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which India is one of the first few signatories mandates all State Parties to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities in their respective countries. Further, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda adopted in 2015 strengthens the call for action to ‘Leave No One Behind’. And, now with India getting a new Disability Law that is CRPD compliant – The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016, the disability sector in India has been ushered into the next stage of disability rights, “Disability 2.0” as we are now calling it. This new law is a game changer as it not only mandates provision of accessibility for persons with disabilities by the government but also by private sector!

Unfortunately, to this day, ‘accessibility’ remains a foreign concept in India with our understanding being limited to only the built environment whereas it is a much broader concept encompassing not only access to physical spaces/built environment but also, access to technology, transport, services, aids and appliances, websites, apps, documents, television broadcasts, information and other communication mediums and devices used by us on a daily basis and a gamut of other things. Access thus, is an issue that cuts across disabilities and sectors and forms the very basis of education, employment and information which leads to empowerment!

It was to address this lack of understanding of accessibility for persons with disabilities in India and to spread awareness and popularise the concept intrinsic to any kind of access i.e. ‘Universal Design’ - a design that is usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or situation (people with disabilities, older people, pregnant and nursing mothers, children, and others who are non-average in a way that is not stigmatising and benefits all users) that NCPEDP, in association with Mphasis, instituted The NCPEDP - Mphasis Universal Design Awards in 2010.

Since ‘access’ symbolizes the true spirit of freedom as far as persons with disabilities are concerned, these Awards are given away every year on 14th August, the eve of India’s Independence Day in a simple Presentation Ceremony to those individuals and organizations who have been doing exemplary work towards the cause of accessibility in India and thus ensuring a life of equality and dignity for people with disabilities in the following five fields:

  1. Built Environment
  2. Transport
  3. Information and Communication Technology
  4. Services
  5. Aids and Appliances

2017 being the 8th edition of The NCPEDP - Mphasis Universal Design Awards, NCPEDP plans to take the mandate further by attempting to create a platform for open dialogue/discourse, knowledge sharing and awareness creation on accessibility of persons with disabilities in India by way of organizing a half day Conference. The theme of the event will be 'Access for All', which is also the tagline for the Awards.

The structure of the Conference is still very fluid but will include three panel discussions/sessions of 60 minutes each on the issue of 'accessibility' covering the Built Environment; ICTs; and Transport, Services and Aids & Appliances which will then be followed by the Presentation Ceremony for The 8th NCPEDP - Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2017. Experts from each of the 5 fields that the Awards cover will address the audience after which the floor will be open for Q&As.

The Conference will aim to address the knowledge gap by understanding the issue of accessibility and where India stands today with respect to the same, the importance of Universal Design, the various challenges, gaps and opportunities, the (non)availability of tools and capacities required to fulfil the shortcomings, identifying stakeholders and how technology can help bridge the gap, the opportunities present within the government/public sector and the business case and value addition for the private sector, the global mandate and most importantly, the importance of the right legislations (what the new law provides) and procurement policies, guidelines and standards required to pave the road ahead for the vision for an ‘Accessible India’ to become a reality.

Programme:

9:30-10:00 Registrations
10:00-11:00 SESSION 1: Accessibility of the Built Environment
Interactive Dialogue
11:00-12:00 SESSION 2: Accessibility of ICTs
Interactive Dialogue
12:00-13:00 SESSION 3: Accessibility of Transport, Services and Aids & Appliances
13:00-13:30 PRESENTATION CEREMONY: The 8th NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2017
13:30-14:30 LUNCH

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