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Disabled activist falls off ramp of ‘accessible’ bus

A man presses a button on the control panel to pick up a woman in a wheelchair in a taxi

In a shocking case, a person with disability, who was invited to participate in a demonstration and trial of accessible MTC buses, toppled backward from the ramp when she tried to board the vehicle, and hit the back of her head on concrete floor, The New Indian Express reports.

The incident stirred panic at the function, as other persons with disabilities felt the prototype was a threat to their safety. The government officials have assured that necessary changes would be made to the final model, based on the feedback they receive. A total of 100 accessible buses will operate across various city routes in the coming days. Smitha Sadasivan of the disability rights alliance, who fell off the ramp, said it’s pathetic that initial designs are so unfriendly.

“Common sense must be used by officials in designing vehicles, right from an initial stage,” she said. Others too argued that ramps must be smooth, without bumps caused by bolts and joints. “There is very little space for parking wheelchairs in the bus, and a lack of appropriate railing support,” says Rajiv Ranjan, executive director of the disability rights organisation, Ektha.

Visually impaired users faced two major problems at the trial. One, the support cane they use for walking, got trapped in the perforated grill of the ramp floor, posing a threat of them  slipping or losing balance. Two, the entry door from the ramp, does not have sufficient height allowance for a standing person as it measures only about 5 ft.

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