Broken ramps and high pavement: Barriers to #MyAccess
On the 1st of December, the safety sprawl was organised with 42 participants from the National Association of the Blind (NAB) in Worli and students from St. Xaviers, Sophia and Wilson college. We began with an orientation session which included a meet and greet exercise, where they got to know each other better. That was followed by an exercise discussing when they felt safe, unsafe and precautions they took to stay safe. There were were many points of similarities found in the two groups, that is the sighted and non sighted groups. Both felt safe at home or with friends and both felt unsafe outside the home, when alone and in unknown places. Participants from NAB also spoke about feeling unsafe anytime they went outside, and prefer having someone they know around. After this the partnered participants were divided into two groups and followed two different routes- one down Abdul Gaffar Khan Marg to a bit beyond Worli Naka, and the other down the lanes behind NAB towards to police grounds.
Some insights from the participants were that there were many obstructions such as manhole covers, potholes, barricade poles, uneven footpaths and streets, trash, pieces of glass. Sighted participants spoke about groups of men around tea stalls who were staring at all the girls in an uncomfortable manner. Road crossing was another issue brought up unanimously, leading to a discussion on the possibility of accessible crossing signals, such as audio cues.
Khan Abdul Gafar Khan Marg to Worli Naka
From the feedback of the participants, the footpath was not accessible due to various reasons. Vehicles were found to be parked too close to the footpath. In some places the vehicles were parked on the footpath itself. There were also many obstacles on the footpath such as trees, potholes, steps, bikes, garbage and even glass shards. It was also found to be uneven. This makes it difficult for anyone using a walking stick for guidance on this route. Besides the footpath, the road itself was seen to be of a poor quality. Some also mentioned problems they faced due to constructions in the area. Even though the walk took place in the afternoon, the participants felt the need for more lights as only 9 to 10 lamp posts were visible.
Behind National Institute for the Blind, to the police ground and on Khan Abdul Gafar Khan Marg
On this route the footpaths was found to be too narrow and broken in many places. It was also found to be uneven. They faced many obstacles on the footpath such as garbage, stray dogs, glass, vertical bars (assumed to prevent vehicles from getting on to the footpath), branches of trees and construction materials. In one lane, the foul smell of garbage was so strong that the blind participants felt it overpowered the senses. Speeding cars and traffic also caused disturbance while walking, and made it difficult to cross the road.