Empowering Inclusion: Accessibility Standards training program in Aurangabad, Maharashtra (Hybrid)

Enable Me Access (EMA), hosted a powerful training program titled “Empowering Inclusion: Accessibility Standards” in Aurangabad on March 18th, 2024.

Getting it Real
The immediate effects of the session happened even before the trainers arrived. EMA will not conduct these sessions without first evaluating the facilities at the venue to make sure that the participants are not humiliated or inconvenienced by inaccessible facilities. There was a single step level change for which the hotel had fabricated a small but useful ramp.

Another immediate effect was that in the first session the subject of language and ettiquette was discussed and one important aspect of this is the use of patronizing, condescending, meaningless and sometimes insulting adjectives. So the delegates learnt that it was not OK to use “Special Needs”, “Differently Abled”, “Handicapped”, “Divyangjan” etc and that it was universally preferred and acceptable to say, person first, Person with Disabilities, student with multiple disabilities, Lawyer with visual impairment, blind, artist with cognitive impairment etc. The delegates immediately found this a revelation and started to experiment with using this more meaningful and respectful language.

This interactive session, held at Hotel Amarpreet, tackled the critical issue of accessibility in built environments. It was a hybrid online/offline event welcoming both in-person and online participants. The speakers, including accessibility experts and individuals with lived experiences such as Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and carers. The atmosphere was ignited with engaging discussions.

Building Bridges, Not Barriers:

The program delved deep into understanding disabilities, fostering inclusive language, and navigating accessibility laws and standards. Attendees learned the importance of universal design, ensuring environments cater to everyone, regardless of age or ability.

The event was supported by Kalika steels from Jalna in Maharashtra.

Key Takeaways:

  • Universal Design in Action: Participants explored the seven principles of Universal Design, a framework for creating inclusive spaces.
  • Education is Key: Recommendations were made to incorporate accessibility into all levels of education, shaping a future generation of inclusion.
  • Laws with Teeth: Discussions highlighted existing accessibility laws, like the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWDA), emphasizing the need for stronger enforcement.
  • Learning Accessibility standards: Participants learned various accessibility elements including ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, staircases, signages and so on.
  • Government as a Partner: The training advocated for greater government involvement through initiatives like the Sugamya Bharat App and incentives for accessibility training.

Beyond the Textbook:
The program went beyond theory, addressing specific accessibility elements. Participants delved into real-world challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, such as inadequate signage, small fonts, and inaccessible pathways. They experienced roleplaying in different types of physical disabilities and toured the infrastructure of the hotel where the conference took place.

Architect Pooja Parmar, a speaker, shed light on everyday barriers, emphasizing the need for collective action. She elaborated on Universal Design and its principles.

Anubha Singhal, an architect with disability, shared her experiences and highlighted Accessibility, is not a luxury but a fundamental right for an inclusive society. She emphasized on the importance of right knowledge of accessibility standards to avoid copy paste which creates waste of budget put into making infrastructure accessible.


The Road Ahead:
As discussions unfolded, it became evident that while laws exist to promote accessibility, their enforcement remains sluggish, necessitating a shift in mindset and proactive measures from both individuals and organizations. EMA remains committed to bridging this gap by raising awareness, advocating for policy reforms, and empowering individuals to create accessible environments for all.


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