Efforts to promote ‘designing for inclusion’ in Sri Lanka’s construction industry to accommodate the increasing numbers of people who are physically or sensorily disadvantaged have gained momentum with the country’s top pneumatic tyre manufacturer CEAT coming forward to support ‘IDIRIYA’, an organisation of professionals campaigning for the provision of better access to public buildings.
Among the first initiatives in this direction since the formalisation of the partnership between IDIRIYA and CEAT was the recent launch of a book entitled ‘Access Ability For All - Why You?’ as another community service initiative by IDIRIYA.
“Disability can afflict anyone at any time but, sadly, very little conscious effort is made by the community at large to accommodate those with diminished mobility,” said CEAT Sri Lanka Managing Director Oscar Braganza. “However, there are numerous examples that illustrate that the disabled have the potential to be productive too, and IDIRIYA and its Secretary General Dr. Ajith Perera are inspiring examples.”
IDIRIYA Secretary General Dr. Ajith Perera said: “For numerous reasons, disability in both visible and invisible forms is on the rise in Sri Lanka. Today, the risk of becoming disabled has become a grave social problem afflicting a wide range of people. Decision makers should not be misguided by the published figures on disability, which are often underestimated. By the way we continue to design our buildings, man is creating more physical barriers to man in attending to normal daily activities. This is wholly unacceptable in modern day Sri Lanka.”Mr. Braganza said: “This effort to educate the business community, social leaders, and the community at large is the first step in developing awareness, and building a critical mass of opinion and action, so as to achieve tangible results.”
“Very often what is needed is very simple. For example, access to each and every public and private building and its facilities. We know this to be a fact instinctively, but somehow our corporate plans and strategy do not factor in this basic human right. Statistics show that less than 2 per cent of all buildings, private or public, have access for the mobility impaired. Wittingly or unwittingly we are discriminating against this increasingly large sector of the community.”
Established in 2005, IDIRIYA is a registered humanitarian organisation of professionals in several fields, working voluntarily to create awareness and promote education on ‘designing for inclusion.’
Its aim is to empower people through increased opportunities in day-to-day life.