Draft norms look to make Railways more disabled-friendly

News Excerpt:

The Union government has released draft guidelines on accessibility of railway stations and train facilities for persons with disabilities, highlighting the need for integrating technology-enabled features such as text-to-speech and user-friendly pictograms.

Key highlights of the guideline:

  • Website Features Tailored for ‘Divyangjans’:
    • The proposed guidelines highlight the need for dedicated website features catering to persons with disabilities, 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.
  • Mobile App and One-Click Template for Enhanced Information:
    • The draft includes the development of a dedicated mobile app and a one-click template for persons with disabilities displaying all the information and facilities available for them at stations and in trains.
  • Inclusive Announcements and Signage at Train Stations:
    • For inclusivity, credible announcements regarding facilities for disabled persons will be integrated into public announcement systems at train stations and platforms. 
    • This includes sign language, captioning, and digital displays.
    • Standardised illuminated signage across all stations, coupled with Braille signage, has also been proposed. 
  • Enhancing Accessibility Infrastructure:
    • According to draft norms, Frontline staff will be trained in sign language to ensure effective communication.
    • The guidelines call for accessible entry and exit points, ramps and handrails.
    • Low-height ticket counters with accessibility signage and accessible help booths manned by Divyangjan Sahayaks are proposed to enhance the overall accessibility experience.
    • Designated accessible parking areas with clear signage are recommended for the convenience of differently-abled individuals.
  • Creating Unobstructed Zones and Specialized Facilities:
    • 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.
  • Inclusive Train Coaches and Monitoring Mechanisms:
    • 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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