Cyberabad is supposed to be one of the developed parts in the city of Hyderabad because of its thriving IT industry but a recent report has exposed how unfriendly it is, for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
The study titled "How accessible are our public spaces for PWDs? An access study of Cyberabad" was released on Thursday. It is compiled by Dr. Ipsita Sapra and Dr. Amit Upadhyay, faculty members of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad.
The report states that out of 211 places analysed, only 30 to 40 of them were found to have infrastructure for disability access. There were seven categories like educational institutions, banks and leisure areas that were analysed under which around 30 areas, including both public and private institutions were looked at, for each category.
Cyberabad was chosen since it is one of the newly developed parts of the city. "After Hyderabad signed a contract with United Nations Centre for Regional Development, one would expect it to have disabled-friendly features. But we were shocked to find that it is completely inaccessible" said Ipsita, Associate Professor at TISS.
She went on to say that the aesthetics of the places were given importance over facilities. The study found that the bus stands, government hospitals, schools and railway stations fared the worst when it came to disability accessibility. "While bus stops had ACs and ATMs, they did not have any disabled-friendly features" said Ipsita.
The shopping malls were relatively better because it had ramps and the entrances were larger. But the presence of handrails and ramps was also inadequate since the construction of these facilities was not done properly. The rails constructed were either too low or there was a lot of gap between the ramp and the rail. Out of the 30 schools covered, only three private schools and two public schools had ramps which could accommodate wheelchairs. The level difference in the bus stops restricted the independent usage of wheelchairs.
"Accessibility is a big challenge and it is an open injustice for the disabled" said Srinivasulu, President of Network of Persons With Disability Organisation, a Hyderabad-based NGO working for the disabled. He said that it is not just Hyderabad, but many other cities including the smart cities and metros which are not disabled-friendly. He thinks that it can be rectified only by fighting legally and by having democratic protests as per the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) Act.