Beaches are among the Nature’s gift to the mankind and are a pride of the State. They remain an excellent source for various aspects ranging from leisure to creativity, physical fitness to mental wellbeing, culture to tourism, sports practice to civil society discussions and much more. They are common for all and attract all people of diverse cultures, traditions, age groups and life styles.
Most often, People with disabilities are unable to enjoy recreational zones like beaches to the fullest, where as they only sit at a distance while seeing others having fun. Beaches being a public place should be made accessible for Persons with disabilities for them to exercise their right to leisure and movement.
Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 provides for Accessibility of all public places and Non discrimination of persons with disabilities with respect to inaccessible spaces too. UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, for which India is a signatory, provides for Accessibility and Leisure as a Right apart from all equal human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Disabled friendly beaches or accessible beaches are developed in such a fashion that individuals with disabilities can gain access to all facilities and participate in various fun activities along the sea without any assistance.
Accessible beach includes the following:
- Open access up to waters through an obstacle free and safe pathway that enable independent movement of persons with disabilities
- Detailed signages which will help persons with disabilities reach waters without any assistance.
- Toilets, Bathrooms, Changing rooms, Food counters and Help desk be made accessible.
Eco friendly material like wood, jute, fibre etc can be used to construct long withstanding / permanent ramps / pathways up to the waters. A pathway mended into a stiff mud surface like that of a play ground, amidst the sand, is absolutely eco friendly, which shall be enabled by hand railings on both sides. Beach wheel chairs and sand buggies which can be stored, maintained and facilitated usage of persons with disabilities by some civil society groups or Corporation guards at access points could also enable persons with reduced mobility reach waters from the road. Trained life guards shall be assigned along the coastal zone to safe guard people during risks of being pulled away by/submerged in waves.
Government of India has committed itself towards accessible public spaces, one of its initiatives being Accessible India Campaign. Many Court directives are enforcing accessibility in different public utilities, across the country. Government of Gujarat has announced its Tithal beach in Valsad to be made accessible for persons with disabilities by this year.
In Chennai, Explore Ability, a self employment venture initiated by Aditya Sharma, an Alumni of Vidya Sagar, enabled a temporary accessible ramp in the Besant Nagar beach and facilitated as many persons with reduced mobility to enjoy the waters. Students of Vidya Sagar wish to work with the Corporation of Chennai in an inclusive partnership to make the beaches of Chennai accessible in eco friendly manner, well within the Coastal Regulation Zone Rules, as a project for the upcoming International Day of Persons with disabilities,
3rd December 2016, with a show case of accessible pathway till the waters at Marina beach on 3rd December 2016 at 3pm – 5pm behind Gandhi Statue.
Accessible Marina Beach Celebration: