DU to undergo makeover to be differently abled-friendly

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New Delhi, Jun 13: The University of Delhi would undergo a makeover to be disabled-friendly and provide all possible facilities and enable such students and staff to participate fully in the academic, intellectual, social, recreational and cultural life of the university at large.

Delhi University's Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC)and Samarthyam (a Civil Society Organization promoting Accessible Environments for Disabled Persons) have come together to rethink and redo the architecture and infrastructure of all 72 colleges and research departments to make varsity's environment secure, accessible and friendly for differently abled students, staff and faculty.

Samarthyam's Access Resource Group includes trained access auditors with diverse disabilities and professionals, who were engaged in conducting access audits of all the colleges of University of Delhi.

The access audit work undertaken by Samarthyam has recognised infrastructural pitfalls inhibiting the access of differently-abled persons within the university premises. These pitfalls are being remedied with the construction of ramps, special toilets and library and other modifications. The access audit enables access of the amount of fund required for execution.

''The first phase is going to be need-based wherein changes would be carried out keeping in mind the kind of disabled student the college admits,'' said Prof Komal Kamra, a member of the EOC and a faculty at Khalsa College.

Many colleges like Deen Dayal, Khalsa have made a commitment to make necessary changes. ''Today if you see Khalsa, it is carrying out major renovation work in this direction from ramp to the washrooms and is using its own funds for the same,'' Prof Kamra adds.

Ms Anjalee Agarwal of Samarthyam says, '' We work on the Physical and the academic environment. Our first job was to sensitise the college staff by asking them to move about in a wheelchair to come across the problems faced by disbaled persons and to make them realise that it is the environment that is making you handicap and not the disability.'' ''The colleges have ramps, passages, toilets, libraries which a person on wheelchair or a person with crutches cannot use. So we did an accessibility check of the existing environment and devised cost effective methods to execute the changes.'' The problem also lies with the CPWD and PWD engineers not being aware of the special needs of the disabled people like the different dimensions of the toilet etc, signages, tactile tiles for visually impaired.

The execution of the project would begin with the basic things like putting signages which would cost Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 per college.

The funds would be provided by the UGC and the entire process would require Rs 18-20 lakh. Seventy-five per cent share would be provided by the Centre and the rest would come from the college maintenance funds, she said.

''University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued necessary orders/directions to all the Universities and Colleges to implement provisions of the PWD Act and for this a one time grant amount has also been allocated,'' said DU Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental.

The EOC also plans to start specially designed buses like metro feeder services for this group.

This project is also mandatory under The Persons With Disabilities(PWD) Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation Act, 1995 to ensure that all persons with disabilities (students, teaching and non teaching staff) receive an equal opportunity to participate and succeed in the academic program.

UNI

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