Tuesday, June 15

Kolkata airport turns disabled-friendly with easy-to-read boards and special toilets

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From disabled friendly toilets and tactile studs at floors to low-height flight information display and wheelchair friendly help desks, Kolkata airport has decked itself up with a slew of amenities for passengers with reduced mobility, days after they were criticised following an alleged case of harassment against two prominent disability rights activists at the airport last month.

On October 20, disability champion Jeeja Ghosh was stopped by an airline official from boarding a flight and insisted she couldn’t fly unaccompanied. Another rights activist, Kuhu Das, a polio survivor, was allegedly asked by a CISF woman officer to take off her trousers and show how her callipers worked. Hundreds of flyers and activists criticized the incident and the activists, who were allegedly humiliated, offered to conduct workshops at the airport to sensitize the personnel managing the airport and airline.

Two weeks since the incident, the authorities, however, have undertaken some major steps towards making the airport disabled friendly.

“We have started the process of upgrading the facilities to provide barrier-free transit to passengers with reduced mobility. Our motto is to ensure that every passenger gets to negotiate through the airport without seeking any assistance and with proper dignity,” airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee told TOI.

Bhattacharjee said his team was already on the job since August this year, identifying the infrastructure deficiencies and chalking out plans to address the issues. “We have already addressed some of the major issues like PRM (passengers with reduced mobility)-friendly rest rooms, tactile studs at departure level that will help visually impaired passengers make their own way, low height flight information display which will make sure that people on wheelchair can read them at ease, fluorescent painting in staircases and proper help desks for easy accessibility of wheelchair-bound passengers,” said Bhattacharjee. The upgrades are part of the Centre’s Accessible India Campaign.

Among other upgrades, that are still in process, is a dedicated car parking facility near the terminal for people with reduced mobility.

The official added that a special session was also under way to train the airport staff to communicate properly with the hearing- and speech-impaired passengers. There will also be a sensitization programme to train staff to handle persons with other disabilities.

All airlines have also been asked to provide boarding ramps like IndiGo or make an ambulift available. “We have taken up the infrastructure development work in phases. The first phase is already over and we have progressed to the next level. From parking spaces and ramps on city side kerb to the boarding point, including ticketing and check-in counters, corridors, eateries, railings, rest rooms, guiding and warning tactile tiles and signages are being reviewed. They will be modified if needed,” said another airport official.


Source: Times of India

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