Sunday, Dec 14, 2003
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By K. Kannan
As soon as one enters the main gate of the VSO Office located in Vasant Vihar, there is a row of yellow warning blocks. These warn a person with visual disability to beware of obstacles like height drop-off or other hazards. Warning blocks have also been embedded in the floor at the beginning of the newly constructed ramp that facilitates entry into the main building.
The ramp itself has been built to a gradient that -- although not as gentle as ideally needed due to space constraint - is close to it. It has a handrail painted in bright yellow to facilitate low vision detection along both sides.
Since the door-closer was causing difficulty in letting the door remain open especially for a person with a wheel chair, it was removed and its bottom part fitted with kick plates to facilitate opening of door by foot. There is a bell and alarm system for people with hearing disability next to the entrance to facilitate any help that might be needed to open the door.
All around the VSO office, there is a lot of yellow paint whether in the handrails or on the outline of all electrical switchboards. "This is to help vision persons to identify these boards from the surroundings. Most of us rarely give thought to whether people using a wheel chair would be comfortably able to reach the electrical switch points, door handles, toilets, basins including the mirror on top of the basin, towel hand, rail and soap stand,'' says Kevan Moll of VSO.
When the access audit was carried out in the VSO office by Samarthya, these small issues were minutely considered and every necessary change was subsequently implemented to make the premises meet these parameters. All doors in the office were widened to facilitate wheel chair entry and the sliding door replaced by a swing type double door. Special attention has been paid to the kind of furniture placed in the meeting room like enough leg space under the table. The toilet seat has been shifted and placed at the side where the two walls meet and grab bars fixed on either side. There is also an alarm bell in case of accidents.
A tactile map on the ground floor of the office has been made and placed on the wall at the reception. Names of the people in Braille, Hindi and English in raised letters have been put besides the respective doors to help people with visual disability move around the office comfortably. And the entire cost of making the premises accessible has cost the VSO just Rs. 1.5 lakhs and that too by using indigenous material.
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