Chapter On Accessibility

Definitions

Public Spaces - includes buildings or spaces that provide any facility or service open to general public that may be owned by the government or privately owned.

Services may includes:

  • Services relating to banking, insurance, superannuation and the provision of grants, loans, credit or finance; or
  • Services relating to entertainment, recreation or refreshment; or
  • Services relating to transport or travel; or
  • Services relating to telecommunications; or
  • Services relating to broadcasting
  • Services of the kind provided by the members of any profession or trade; or
  • Services of the kind provided by a government, a government authority or a local government body.

General Principles

People with disabilities must enjoy the same right to live independently within the community and near their families on an equal basis with others.

They must have equal rights to participate fully as equal citizens of this country and must have, amongst others, access to physical infrastructure that includes schools, health care centres, workplaces, recreational facilities, community centres, access to quality assistive devices, mobility aids and assistive technology, goods and services, information, communication, as well as information communication technology, access to transport services and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.

Access facilitation to such facilities in the form of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters must be provided to ensure participation in all life's activities on an equal basis with others.

Measures towards this will include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility and shall apply to:

  • Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
  • Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
  • The infrastructure accessibility to the built environment that includes but are not restricted to all public buildings, roads, pedestrian environments and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, health and medical facilities, banking, postal, legal and insurance facilities, recreational areas, heritage buildings and workplaces;
  • Transportation System that include Road based transport, personal mobility, aviation, railways and maritime.
  • Providers of services that may includes all organizations or individuals; private or public; who provide any service to the public.
  • Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
  • Designers and manufacturers of consumer products designed for use by public use.
  • Mobility and communication aids

Appropriate measures to be adopted by the state in fulfilling its obligation would also include;

  • Development, promulgation and monitoring the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
  • Ensuring that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;
  • Providing training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
  • Providing signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms in buildings and other facilities open to the public;
  • Providing forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
  • Promoting other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
  • Promoting access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;
  • Promoting the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.

After Deliberations

All appropriate governments should take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to use of consumer appliances. They must also ensure access to mobility devices and assistive technology to enable full participation of persons with disabilities.

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Infrastructure Accessibility

All appropriate governments shall take appropriate measures:

  • To develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and design guidelines for both urban and rural areas within a period of 1 year, that are updated after every 2 years, for infrastructural accessibility that will be applicable to all and not restricted to
    • The public sector
    • Private sector that offer facilities and services to the public
    • All such public or private infrastructure that are sanctioned by the government
    • All funding for developmental projects and processes must have a proportionate accessibility budget
    • All privately owned built infrastructural development meant for sale or to lease.
    • All infrastructure development projects and programmes undertaken by the Ministry of Urban development and the Ministry of Rural Development along with all autonomous bodies under its purview and control.
    • All infrastructures built, maintained and renovated by the State Municipal Corporations.
    • All autonomous bodies under the purview/control of the Ministry of Urban Development and the Ministry of Rural Development involved with infrastructure development, refurbishment and maintenance throughout the country.
    • All post disaster construction and renovation work.
    • External pedestrian environment
  • The Minimum Standards and design guidelines will be applicable to:
    • All new buildings from the day this Act comes into force
    • All existing building must comply to these as outlined in the implementation plan.
      • In case of non compliance there a punitive compensation / imprisonment or both (as outlined in the punitive measures plan) to be paid by building owner.
      • For building where compliance may not be fully possible, the onus will be on the building owner to seek permission for non compliance from the appropriate government.
      • 3% of housing in all housing complexes must have basic accessible housing design features and be preferentially allotted to people with disabilities
    • In case of a leased accommodation:
      • For buildings used for commercial, social, political or cultural purposes:
        • The building owner will be responsible to ensure that accessibility is complied to in parts of the building that are of common use.
        • Internal accessibility of various services provided within a leased premises, will be the responsibility of the person who takes the space on lease to make compliant.
        • A building owner cannot deny permission to make infrastructure compliant to accessibility standards.
    • B. For hostels and private dwellings:
      • in case of a hostel facility privately/publicly owned, denying accommodation to a disabled person on the pretext of inaccessibility will be considered unlawful and amount to discrimination.
      • in case of housing complexes, the complex developers will be responsible to ensure that all common use areas comply with Accessibility standards.

All new policies and legislations announced by the Ministry of Urban Development, the Ministry of Rural Development and all autonomous bodies under the purview/control of the said ministries must be inclusive and shall consider beside others, infrastructural accessibility needs of persons with disabilities for which it will:

  • Set up a National Institute of Universal Design within three years of enactment of this Act, that works for but is not restricted to - capacity building, research, policy development and monitoring of Infrastructure accessibility at Central level.
  • Set up State and District level Resource Centres that function under a National Institute of Universal Design. The activities of these centers will include but are not restricted to technical training, research and monitoring at the State and District level respectively.
  • To ensure quality, have a well defined system for professional registering of persons working in the field of infrastructure accessibility within three years of enactment of this Act, based on their technical qualifications such as but not restricted to:
    • Access Consultants
    • Access Auditors
    • Peer advisors
  • Other categories that may include contractors, masons, interior designers etc.
  • Work on providing FAR and/or tax relaxations to building owners for providing accessibility retrofitting accessibility into their infrastructure for a specified time frame (as outlined in the implementation guidelines)
  • Develop schemes and programmes to provide aid and/or soft loan to individuals or organizations wanting to improve access in their homes or work environment respectively.
  • The state shall ensure that an appropriate mechanism is in place to implement and monitor the above said provisions within one year of enactment of this law.
  • Private establishment in the Indian Territory offering public services shall not reserved the right to admission on the basis of disability.
  • State shall ensure that every establishment whether public or private puts in mechanism to ensure safe passage of disabled people during times of emergency and shall developed norms or rules or codes for a licensing agencies to accord sanctions to conforming private & public establishments within a period of one year of enactment of this act.

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Transport Accessibility

All appropriate governments shall take appropriate measures:

  • To develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and design guidelines, a period of one year of enactment of this law that are updated after a specified period, (as outlined in the implementation plan) for transport accessibility with separate standards for:
    • Road based transport including
      • Bus design and bus stations
      • Coach Design and stations
      • Taxi design and taxi stations
    • Aviation
      • Plane design and airports
    • Railways
      • Railway coaches and train stations
      • Metro cars and stations
      • Trams and tram stations
    • Pedestrian infrastructure
    • Rural public transport system
  • The various minimum standards and design guidelines will be applicable to:
    • All companies whether public or private who are involved with the designing and manufacture of any of the public transport vehicles/vessels.
    • Appropriate ministries to ensure accessible transport interchange areas.
    • All appropriate Ministries are required to prepare, a 5 yearly action plan within three months of this Act being enforced, on how they will provide, improve, refurbish or maintaining public transport in all classes and categories of travel that is accessible to PWD. The action plan will include detailed strategy of how they plan to refurbish/ replace the existing rolling stock of busses, trains, etc within the deadlines set.
    • Set up a National Institute of Universal Design within a period of three years of enactment of this Act, that works for but is not restricted to - capacity building, research, policy development and monitoring of transport accessibility at Central level.
    • Set up State and District level Resource Centres that function under a National Institute of Universal Design. The activities of these centres will include but not be restricted to technical training, research and monitoring at the State and District level respectively.
    • Provide opportunities for 'disability sensitization trainings' for all staff involved with assisting disabled travelers.
    • Additionally the appropriate Ministries will ensure that all their policies are inclusive in nature and shall consider beside others, transport accessibility needs of persons with disabilities.
    • All State Governments in the absence of accessible transport system complying to the Minimum Standards and Design Guidelines, to ensure a monthly mobility allowance to persons with disability to travel to
      • work (both private and public sector)
      • education (both private and public educational institutes)
      • health (both private and public health institutes)

This allowance must be adequate for the disabled individual to drive his/her own vehicle or pay a reasonable fare if using a rented vehicle.

  • All appropriate governments to develop schemes and programmes to encourage personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice, and at affordable cost.
  • Work on providing incentives and concessions to companies researching and producing accessible personal transport vehicles.
  • Encourage and provide incentives and concessions to individuals and organizations wanting to start door to door accessible transport services for the disabled.
  • Ensure that two wheeler drivers who retrofit their two wheelers like adding side cars are given license to drive and that their adapted vehicles are registered with transport authorities.

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Access to Services

  • Considering that only by making infrastructure accessible, services not always become accessible to disabled persons, it will be considered discriminatory if a disabled person is unable to use any service that available to the general public.
  • Appropriate governments shall ensure that all services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs. The meaning of services to be as provided in the end of this chapter. These would include but not be restricted to: All publicly owned services All services sanctioned by the Government
  • All appropriate Governments must ensure that all service providers have in public domain, have information about procedures laid out on how are they are making their services more accessible to ensure a disabled people does not face undue hardships in using the service. These procedures may include but not be restricted to:
    • To provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
    • To promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
  • Provision of live / human assistance at public places to be made available at transport interchanges and other spaces to deal with space disorientation and anxiety of addressing strangers experienced by persons living with mental illness, and other persons with disabilities experiencing space disorientation.
  • To provide online and telephone booking
  • providing home delivery facilities
  • Appropriate governments to set timeframes within three months of this Act being enforced, on by when the service providers must have procedures and systems laid down and implemented on making their service more accessible to disabled people.
  • All appropriate governments to ensure that all announcements inviting public response must be accessible to all people with disabilities. These announcements may include - announcements made for procurement, employment, public health, disaster preparedness etc.
  • All information in the public domain including government information, which can be made available to disabled, should be provided in accessible formats.
  • The appropriate government shall create a panel of professional sign language interpreters in every district. The panel will contain trained interpreters whose duty it shall be to provide interpretation services for the hearing and speech impaired whenever called upon.
  • Video recordings of sign language interpreters at courts and police stations that the same may be reproduced at later stage for verification purposes.
  • Training of care givers and other stakeholders in area such as but not limited to schools, hospitals, hostels, juvenile centers, jails, shelters etc.
  • Private establishment in the Indian Territory offering public services shall not deny services offered on the basis of disability.

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Access to Information and Communication Technology

All appropriate governments to take measures:

  • To ensure access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems including Alternative and Augmentative Communication devices and the Internet at affordable cost both in urban and rural areas;
  • To lay timeframes within three months of enforcement of the Act, by when all Indian websites run publicly or privately are made compliant to W3C web accessibility standards
  • To promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
  • Accessibility to published material should be accorded precedence over intellectual property rights and all material in public domain can be converted to a text and other accessible formats including daisy format for further conversion to Braille, audio etc.
  • Set up a national institute of Universal Design who's responsibilities shall include but not restricted to capacity building, research, policy development and monitoring of alternative and augmentative modes of communication and devices used for the same
  • Set up state and district level resource centers that functions under the national institute for AAC. The activity of these centers will include but not restricted to technical training, research and monitoring at state and district level respectively.
  • The law should provide for designing of Currency notes and coins in such a way that persons with disabilities are able to identify the denomination with ease.
  • Ensure Access to Films and Documentaries by:
    • audio description of films, documentaries and electronic visual media including private television broadcasters to provide audio description of at least 20% of their programming with audio description. This mandate should be applicable to channels which reach out to at least % of the population so as to increase the accessibility of Media for persons with blindness or low vision to access such films and documentaries.
    • Such films and documentaries to also have sign language interpretation and close captioning of persons with hearing impairments (Refer British Broadcasting Act and British Communication Act)
  • Accessibility of all published material, including that in the public domain and all copyrighted material :to enable all persons with disabilities to access print matter, which is in the public domain or copyrighted, in an accessible format/version, all such printed material can be converted to any accessible format now known, including specially designed formats and mainstream formats. No permission from the publisher or copyright holder will be required and copyright exemptions assumed to be granted for this conversion, if it is intended for persons with disabilities as end users , their stakeholders and is on a not for profit basis. These formats will include, but will not be restricted to, Braille, audio, sign language interpretation, daisy and e text. Exception in copyright must extend to adaptation, making the work available, issuing copies and all other acts as may be necessary to fulfill the objective of making the work available in accessible formats to persons with disabilities and protect their right to read.
  • Electronic accessibility:
  • Web accessibility: Mandatory compliance with accessibility standards including web contents accessibility guidelines 2.0 or other more advance and improved guidelines which may be developed from time to time. All web sites of the government and large corporations to be made accessible within a period of one year.
    • Electronic policy: Government to draw a policy stating setting up of research centres to undertake research on electronic accessibility, assistive devices and assistive technology etc. Policy to state building internal capacity to ensure compliance through appropriate capacity building programs, procurement of only technology solutions which are accessible and open source, provision of financial support to technology initiatives that are built on open platforms and all products/solution must be openly licensable.
  • Electronic accessibility will be applicable to persons who provide goods, services or facilities to the public using telecommunications services, and will include All broadcasting organizations, Manufactures of electronic products and devices.

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Access to Consumer Products

  • All appropriate governments would take appropriate steps:
  • To promote accessible design, development, production and distribution of universally designed consumer products for general use.
  • Provide exemptions to manufactures of these products.
  • Access to all personal grooming and beautification services on equal basis as others, such as clothing, cosmetic, and fitness services. (Inclusivity in existing services rather than creation of 'special' services is important).

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Access to Mobility and Communication AIDS

All appropriate governments:

  1. To facilitate access by persons with disabilities to quality mobility aids, devices, assistive technologies and forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost both in rural and urban areas;
  2. Aids and appliances distributed by the government to persons with disabilities under schemes should include but not restricted to decoders for television sets in order to enable access to captions on television. To also include, amongst others, head pointers, buzzers, adapted keyboards, advance screen reading softwares, daisy recorders, Braille displays and Braille note and to be made available at subsidized rates.
  3. To provide training in mobility skills to persons with disabilities and to specialist staff working with persons with disabilities;
  4. To ensure entities that produce mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies to take into account all aspects of mobility for persons with disabilities living in urban areas and also in rural areas
  5. BIS certification of quality of all mobility aids and appliances and provisions for repairs and after sales service to be mandatory on manufacturers.

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Work Plan

First Phase

  • All hospitals, public health care centres
  • All public toilets, bathrooms, restrooms
  • All educational institutions and allied services
  • Hotels, restaurants, food centres
  • Telephone booths
  • All Bus depots & stands
  • Railway stations, including railways counters
  • Airports
  • Postal offices
  • All the judicial courts
  • Footpaths
  • All major essential services

Compliance as outlined below, while indicated in phases is a concurrent process i.e. they all commence with immediate effect. In first phase, it is three years from the day the act comes into force.

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Second Phase

  • All housing facilities which are in existence from the past 20 years shall be made accessible with best use of technology.
  • The future promoters/builders shall apply the concept of universal design when promoting large scale projects which would include not only public areas of flats but also individual flats with reasonable accommodation in mind.
  • Explanation for the above clause: As the promoter intends to build the flats and market it to the public, it should be construed as a public service in lines with services such as temples, hotels, theatres.
  • All public buildings, offering public service, irrespective of the offering party being government or private, shall be made accessible without compromising on the safety of the public, which is inclusive of all sectors.
  • All roads including private roads shall have accessibility concerns embedded into road projects and new forthcoming projects, which would include augmentative and alternative communication.
  • All pre-existing roads before the enactment of this law shall be made accessible with tactile cross cuttings, tactile markings on curbs at the end of the platforms and tactile engravings on the edges of pavements to assist people with visual impairments.
  • All worship places, spiritual centres offering public services, irrespective of the administrative authority being government or private, shall provide accessibility to all persons with disabilities in all infrastructures, facilities and worship.
  • Under any circumstances, people with disabilities shall not be denied admission for reasons of the accessibility not having been accorded in full spirit with the rights of the disability.
  • All government offices, corporate offices, voluntary organizations shall be made accessible with disability ergonomics.

Compliance as outlined below, while indicated in phases is a concurrent process i.e. they all commence with immediate effect. In second phase, it is six years from the day the act comes into force.

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Third Phase

  • All public and private libraries shall be made accessible to all persons irrespective of the severity of the disability and shall use the best assistive technologies that shall provide an equal experience on par with that of a non-disabled person.
  • All internet centres, technology adjudicating enterprises, shall make their products accessible to all persons irrespective of physical/psychosocial/intellectual disability.
  • All cultural centres propagating all sorts of art including performing arts, heritage, culture, shall provide accessibility in the infrastructure and also to the performances through the usage of appropriate alternative modes of communication.
  • All public meetings through the stage performances, discourses, lectures, debates shall have appropriate alternative modes of communication as part of accessibility and shall be deemed to be a compulsory initiative from the event management failing which, it shall invite prosecution.
  • All entertainment and media houses, theatres shall make their programmes accessible to all persons. Electronic media shall include AAC as part of their media productions which include, but are not limited to serials, news and advertisements. It shall be supported by accessible infrastructure and properly addressed by the usage of the best technological developments.
  • All tourist destinations, whether new or old shall be made accessible to all persons irrespective of the severity of the disability including physical/psychosocial/intellectual disabilities, with the best use of the latest technological developments.
  • This clause shall not be evaded from, by reason of economic constraints.
  • Compliance as outlined below, while indicated in phases is a concurrent process i.e. they all commence with immediate effect. In the third phase, it is nine years from the day the act comes into force.

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Monitoring and penal provisions;

Monitoring and penal provisions for default in providing access to all new built infrastructure:

  • All new buildings will follow the minimum guidelines and standards developed within a year of enactment of this Act. As an immediate requirement the government will harmonize the existing CPWD, CCD and BIS guidelines and implement the same with immediate effect and which will be replaced with minimum standards and guidelines developed within a year.
  • No permission to build will be granted if the same does not adopt the minimum standards and guidelines adhering to accessibility norms.
  • Completion/ Occupation certificates will be awarded to builder only after an audit of Accessibility has been certified by competent authority to be defined by the government. This task will be subsequently taken over by the NIUD when it becomes operational.
  • In instances of violation of these minimum standards and guidelines the license of the builder will be cancelled. If the building is certified Accessible and awarded the certificate and is subsequently found not to meet the established standards all supply of water/ electricity will be suspended and certifying authorities penalized on the assumption of colluding with builder.
  • Penal provisions will include adverse entry in service record of certifying authorities and will lead to suspension from service if found guilty on more than one occasion.
  • License of the builder to be cancelled if found lacking in implementing access provisions.
  • Monitoring and penalties in default of providing Accessibility in existing built infrastructure;
  • All existing built infrastructure owned by the government, all privately built or owned infrastructure which is meant for public use and all public spaces to be made accessible within a time limit of not exceeding 10 years from the date of enactment of this Act.
  • All authorities including civic authorities entrusted with the task of maintainence/ renovation of such infrastructure and all concerned government departments and all privately owned infrastructure which is providing public services to prepare a phased plan of providing accessibility in all existing built infrastructure.
  • Phased plan to be made after prioritization of providing accessibility in all public buildings and spaces providing essential services such as all PHCs, Civil/District hospitals, Primary schools/ secondary schools, railway stations bus stations etc to start with. Accessibility will be provided in a phased manner to ensure that all such infrastructure is made accessible within 10 years. All plans will be public documents.
  • Plan will include carrying out of access audits by authorized team of auditors and provision of basic minimum accessible facilities which will include provision of designated parking areas, provision of ramps at the entrance, signages in easy to read language, accessible washroom in the ground floor and an accessible meeting room in the ground floor in the first year of enactment of this Act.
  • All concerned authorities will make public the Accessibility plan and also make available to the public accessibility achievement vs plan updates annually until the entire infrastructure is made completely accessible for all persons with disabilities within 10 years of enactment of this Act. All renovations to mandatorily include accessibility features and be budgeted for on an annualized basis.
  • The Disability Rights Authority will set up a system of monitoring all existing built infrastructure once the plans to provide accessibility are made public. Accessibility plan will be the basis of monitoring and deviations against plan will be made public and action initiated against departmental head incharge of implementation of Accessibility plan. Action will include adverse entry into service record leading to suspension from service on subsequent dereliction of duty.
  • Monitoring and penal provisions in case of default in providing access to transport:
  • The NIUD and the Disability Rights Authority will be the bodies responsible for monitoring Access features in all modes of transport provided to the public at large both in the rural and urban areas.
  • Monitoring of facilities will be done vis a vis the standards and guidelines developed for each mode of transport initially developed by concerned Ministry and later on by the NIUD.
  • The Disability Rights Authority will be the monitoring body and any default by any service provider will be liable in;
  • Compensation of loss to person with disability arising out of discrimination in not allowing the use of service by service provider;
  • Compensation for humiliation experienced by person with disability arising out of the denial of service;
  • Cancellation of services of service provider on that particular route for a period of at least 7 days;
  • Cancellation of license of service provider in instances of continued default;

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Provisions for People with Psychosocial / Cognitive / Intellectual Disability

People with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, perhaps also the blind, the partially blind, and people using breeches or calipers, using canes, crutches or other support devices to be mobile, may find the following very disturbing:

  • Constructions in malls and airports, which are made of sheer glass panes and other highly reflective surfaces.
  • Large open spaces without any orienting signage is also very disturbing.
  • Highly polished floors, gleaming tiles, and other reflecting surfaces on the floor are disorienting.
  • High decibel sounds, flickering or psychedelic lights, and other overstimulation of senses is disturbing.

In large public spaces, such arrangements create barriers to movement. PDs typically keep near the walls, or some familiar objects in order to weave their way around.

  • Simple maps and signage designed using familiar symbols and words will improve access.
  • For people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities, what sets up barrier to movement is lack of personal safety. A sense of threat, fear, panic, agitation, suspicion, etc. This kind of barrier also needs to be addressed. The existence of or experience of mental asylums and forced treatment is a great barrier to users survivors accessing public spaces.
  • Home bound PDs in the case of intellectual and mental disabilities are probably higher than other categories. How to improve safety measures in community so that these people can equally enjoy uninterrupted access to public spaces and community life? Violence free zones is a must in order to facilitate such access. We have noise free zones, cigarette free zones… Violence free zones is a must in all society for the equal access of all human beings to public spaces.
  • Other comments which have come in from care givers of this group: access to peaceful and quiet places. Safe spaces within exam halls and in work places. Welcoming, clutter free spaces also reduce over stimulation of senses for PDs. Finding objects in familiar places, structuring of space in an expected way, predictable environment, having objects which one is close to (e.g. a book or a toy), use of protective rituals and charms, makes space more friendly to PDs with mental and psychosocial disabilities.

How to make the 'tall world' accessible to people of short stature?? Inputs from this group is a must.

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