students use steps without handrails in schools

Global Level Advocacy

58th Session CEDAW, June 2014
Samarthyam’s advocacy and lobby with CEDAW Committee members, oral statement and contribution in the shadow report of NAWO helped in raising concerns of girls and women with disabilities. Ms. Anjlee Agarwal, representative of the women with disabilities Indian delegation at UN, Geneva in 2014 presented an oral statement on ‘Discrimination’ and status report comprising exclusion of girls and women with disabilities in primary and higher education.

Policy Advocacy and development of accessibility codes and toolkits on Inclusive Education

Samarthyam has spearheaded the inclusion of accessibility guidelines in the National Building Bye-laws; Indian Roads Congress; Space Standards for Universal Design for Persons with Disabilities and Elderly, Ministry of Urban Development, 2014; Universal Accessibility Guidelines, among many others. Disability inclusive design elements for schools have been developed and incorporated in four major guidelines and codes such as:

  • 2015,   Access to School and the Learning Environment (Physical, Information and Communication), New York, UNICEF
  • 2015, Practitioner’s Manual on Inclusive WASH: Schools and Public Spaces, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India
  • 2014, School Audit Toolkit, UNICEF
  • 2014, Guidelines on Barrier free Environment for Children with Disabilities in Schools, DFID, VSO and CBM; and adopted by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India

National Level Activities

Samarthyam is promoting ‘Accessible and Inclusive Education’ by improving accessibility in the built and education environment of academic institutions. Samarthyam team continue to undertake accessibility audits of schools, colleges, Universities, Indian Institute of Technology and other academic institutions all over the country to improve universal accessibility for students and teachers with disabilities. Implementation of audit reports are monitored and mentoring support is provided to the concerned agencies.
Technical trainings and capacity building workshops are organized for State SSA Missions for engineers, block resource teachers, special education, head masters and teachers on creation of barrier free and accessible elements in the schools to mobilize children with disabilities to access ‘all’ facilities and not just few.

We have conducted advocacy meetings Department of Education, Govt. of National Capital Territory of Delhi and Ministry of Human Resource development, Government of India on provision of Access standards in 600 Government run primary schools in New Delhi.

Samarthyam has organized access sensitization programmes in schools of Delhi, Port Blair and Rangat (Middle Andaman) and conducted several access audits with Handicap International and Vidyasagar (NGO) to make schools universally accessible for children with disabilities in the island.

Since 2005, Samarthyam has conducted access audits of: 

  • More than 500 schools in 16 state of India with funding support of UNICEF, Government of India, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Odisha and West Bengal, VSO and DFID under International Partnership Agreement programme (IPAP) and CBM
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
  • Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) campus, New Delhi
  • University of Delhi
  • University of Rajasthan
  • University of Garhwal at Tehri, Pauri, Garhwal and Srinagar, Uttrakhand
  • University of Hyderabad, EFLU
  • SLIET, Engineering University Punjab