Hyderabad: Behind all the glitz and glamour that typifies Cyberabad, there appear to be stories of neglect towards the deprived, especially persons with disabilities (PWD).
An access study of Cyberabad, carried out by the School of Public Policy and Governance of the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) here, indicated that despite the enactment of ‘The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act’, equal opportunities and rights were denied to PWD in the city’s IT hub.
The study, ‘How Accessible Are our Public Spaces for Persons with Disabilities’, was led by TISS faculty members Ipsita Sapra and Amit Upadhyay and undertaken by students of the institute. The study, according to a note from TISS, covered educational institutions, hospitals, government institutions such as e-Seva and police stations, banks, bus stops, railway stations, malls, markets and leisure spaces.
“The study was undertaken in Cyberabad, one of the most recently developed parts of in Hyderabad. Most constructions in this part of the city took place in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As such, the areas selected were developed after the enactment of The Persons with Disabilities Act,” the note said.
Thirty schools (public and private) were covered and though entrances were accessible with wide doors, only three out of eight public schools and five out of 22 private schools were within convenient walking distance from public transport.
Only two out of eight public schools and three out of 22 private schools had ramps that were wide enough for wheelchairs. No school had audible alarm systems for emergencies.
The study also covered 28 bus-stops and two railway stations. None of the bus stops allowed wheelchairs while at railway stations, the norms on gaps between the platform and trains were not maintained. There were no ramps or Braille or tactile displays either that could help PWDs.
The study also noted that the Raheja Mindspace bus stop had air-conditioning and ATMs, but no other accessibility feature.
On the positive side, 33 malls were found to be reasonably accessible, with easy access entrance and flooring along with colour contrast and signage to help the visually challenged.
However, no mall had an audible warning system and only six had tactile warning strips. Only six malls had toilets for PWDs. “As for 29 banks that were covered, while the entrances were accessible, none had automatic doors. The doors were heavy, making it difficult for PWDs to push and pull these. There was no supervision of the entrance and the parking spaces and vehicles were parked in a disorganised manner making these spaces inaccessible. None of the banks had tactile warning strips. The steps were slippery,” the study noted.
Of 30 government buildings covered, only five had accessible main entrances. None had parking facilities or waiting spaces. Only 10 offices had easily accessible corridors where wheelchairs could be used. No government office had toilets for PWDs. Only one office had an emergency exit.
The 30 leisure spaces — parks, stadiums, restaurants and theatres – covered had entrances with gravel pathways that made it difficult for the wheelchair bound. Only one place had clear signage and emergency exit properly displayed. All of these, fortunately, had good parking, non-slippery floors and handrails.
From 29 hospitals and clinics, most hospitals had some accessibility feature such as ramps and elevators while clinics had very few accessibility features. No clinic had easy to use stairs while ramps did not have handrails and reception areas were often too high. None of the clinics had toilets and the floors were slippery and non-reflective.