Government releases draft guidelines to make railway user friendly for PwDs

| | New Delhi
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Government releases draft guidelines to make railway user friendly for PwDs

Sunday, 31 December 2023 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

Even as central flagship Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan (Accessible India Campaign) launched in 2015 is yet to achieve its all targets in many sectors including railways, the Government has now released draft guidelines on accessibility of railway stations, facilities there and in trains for people with disabilities, highlighting the need for integrating technology-enabled features such as text-to-speech and user-friendly pictograms.

The Department of the People with Disabilities (PwDs) has invited comments, objections and suggestions from the stakeholders and public by January 29 next year on the proposed guidelines to create a more user-friendly environment.

The proposed guidelines also highlight the need for dedicated website features catering to "divyangjans", ensuring a flexible and accessible interface design.

These features will follow universal design principles and World Wide Web Consortium guidelines, integrating technology-enabled accessibility features such as text-to-speech and user-friendly pictograms, the draft guidelines state.

The draft includes the development of a dedicated mobile app and a one-click template for people with disabilities displaying all the information and facilities available for them at stations as well as in trains.

For inclusivity, credible announcements regarding facilities for PwDs will be integrated into public announcement systems at train stations and platforms. This includes sign language, captioning, and digital displays, the draft guidelines suggested.

Standardised illuminated signage across all stations, coupled with Braille signage, has also been proposed. Frontline staff will be trained in sign language to ensure effective communication, these stated.

The guidelines call for accessible entry and exit points, ramps and handrails       

Designated accessible parking areas with clear signage are recommended for the convenience of differently-abled individuals.

Low-height ticket counters with accessibility signage and accessible help booths manned by "Divyangjan Sahayaks" are proposed to enhance the overall accessibility experience, the draft guidelines state.

The guidelines placed emphasis on creating unobstructed zones on platforms, incorporating tactile guiding blocks, and providing accessible toilets, drinking water booths, and foot-over bridges.

Accessible lifts at platforms and well-coordinated lighting systems are outlined in the guidelines.

Integration of accessible features in new train coaches, prominent signage, Braille coach numbers, and contrasting colours for exteriors are recommended and inclusive coach interiors with accessible toilets and seating arrangements are also part of the proposed guidelines.

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