Taking Stock of Accessibility in Pune


In order to further the cause of barrier-free architecture for physically disabled people, city-based Bal Kalyan Sanstha (BKS) will conduct a survey of well-known structures in the city [of Pune] to find whether they are accessible to disabled people.

"Sometime in the second week of August we are going to survey the premises and architecture of public buildings like the Balgandharva Rangmandir, Tilak Smarak Mandir and the Pune railway station, among other edifices and request the Pune Municipal Corporation to make them barrier-free, if we find any barriers for disabled people in these structures," Minetta Patil, manager, Bal Kalyan Sanstha, said.

Meanwhile in a bid to spread awareness about barrier-free architecture and to include the physically-disabled in the mainstream. A two-day seminar, titled No disabilities, infinite possibilities,' has also been organised by city-based non-governmental organisation EKansh, in association with the Bal Kalyan Sanstha, the Indian Institute of Architects, Pune, and the Disability Research and Design Foundation (DRDF), Mumbai, on August 7 and 8.

To be held at the Bal Kalyan Sanstha on Ganeshkhind road, the seminar will focus on progressive strategies for the development of the physically-disabled people, visually-impaired, and the speech- and hearing- impaired. It will have representatives from various bodies and organisations talking on different aspects related to disability.

For instance, architects from Pune and Mumbai will be speaking on barrier-free architectural features in buildings to facilitate easy movement of the physically-disabled people. Laws on the same will also be explained by lawyers.

"Let us first accept that we are not sensitive towards the physically- disabled people, and then work towards making ourselves aware and helping them. The seminar is aimed at this effort," Anita Iyer, founder-member, EKansh, said.

The organisers are also conducting a competition on barrier-free architecture, for which it has received entries from 12 architecture colleges. The winner, who will walk away with a cash prize of Rs 25,000, will be announced on the first day of the seminar by chief guest mayor Rajlaxmi Bhosale.

Psychologist Divyanshu Ganatra, himself visually-impaired, will be talking on GPRS for the visually-impaired, while expressive art therapist Jyoti Mate, who uses all forms of art for the mentally- disabled children in a private school in Pune, will be speaking on artistic and creative abilities of physically-disabled people. "There needs to be a mind and body coordination while teaching dance movements to special children. Thinking out-of-the-box is needed to help the special children grow better," said Mate.

Sandhya Limaye, faculty, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and her students will conduct an interactive session to sensitise the audience towards disabled people. "There will also be talks on career opportunities in special education that caters to the physically- disabled people, visually-impaired and the deaf and the dumb," said Iyer.

Representatives from the Helen Keller Institute, Mumbai, and Khadki- based Queen Mary's Technical Institute will also present talks on August 8. Nisha Grover from the Vadodra-based Akshar Foundation will elaborate on the oral education for the deaf with the help of hearing aids. A Braille demonstration by Meera Badve, director, the Nivant Andhamukta Vikasalaya, Yerawada, is also in the offing.

Atiya Hajee, member of the EKansh team, will interpret the entire seminar in sign language.



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