HC Madras Opinion at the Center on Advocacy on Standards for the Well-Being of People with Disabilities | Chennai News

CHENNAI: The Center should be tasked with releasing the draft “Harmonized Guidelines and Standards for Universal Accessibility in India, 2021” in an accessible format and in the vernacular languages, a public interest brief filed with the high court of Madras. PIL wanted the Center to make printed copies available for inspection at designated offices, advertise widely in the media, and invite the public to comment for at least 30 days.
Admitting the plea on Friday, a division bench comprising Judge TS Sivagnanam and Judge Sathi Kumar Sukumara Kurup ordered the Center to file its response by October 20.
In 2016, the Union’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs published comprehensive guidelines setting standards and design specifications for a barrier-free environment to ensure universally accessible public spaces, especially for people with disabilities, a said petitioner Vaishnavi Jayakumar. These guidelines were called “Harmonized spatial guidelines and standards for a barrier-free built environment for people with disabilities and older people”. “However, the Central Department of Public Works (CPW) appears to have uploaded a draft 2021 harmonized guidelines with an office memorandum dated August 12,” she said.
It is not known when this project was uploaded to the CPW website. The memorandum says the draft is subject to public comment and comments can be submitted until August 27 by email, she added.
“No newspaper announcement has been made regarding the publication of the draft guidelines for public comment. No information was available on the websites of the other authorities involved in the publication and only 15 days were provided by the CPW for the submission of comments, ”said lawyer for the applicant A Yogeshwaran.
Noting that people had no way of knowing that the draft guidelines in question had been uploaded by CPW and therefore a valuable opportunity to participate in the process was lost, he said, ” the draft is a 317 page document and the 15 day comment period was not even sufficient to read and understand the document.
Additionally, the project downloaded as a PDF file was not compatible with screen readers or assistive technologies, meaning visually impaired people in the country would not have been able to access it. and understand it, he said.
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