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National Building Code’s new code aims at access for disabled & elderly

The new National Building Code will, for the first time, have a detailed chapter on making buildings and urban sites “accessible“ and “barrier-free“ for the elderly and persons with disabilities. Most buildings and public spaces are inaccessible to an estimated 2.68 crore disabled persons in the country and the ministry of social justice and empowerment is keen on making “accessibility“ a focus area in the draft code.

The National Building Code, 2005, is under review and the draft is likely to be finalized soon. At a recent meeting of state ministers and secretaries (disability affairs) here, the Union ministry said a dedicated chapter in the NBC will bolster efforts to address lack of access and use the specifications cited in the NBC to plan standardized accessibility measures.

The draft chapter on accessibility says the requirements set out in the code “app ly to all buildings and facilities open to and used by the public, including all forms of public housing by the governmentcivic bodies or private developers“. It does not apply to private residences.

The chapter begins by reinforcing the need for barrierfree access to movement within and around buildings by persons with disabilities and the elderly . It takes into account a range of disabilities, including non-ambulatory , semi-ambulatory , visual and hearing disabilities, disabilities of coordination, ageing, allergies, heart and lung diseases, epilepsy and haemophilia. It says principal human abilities should be considered when designing, constructing and managing built environment.

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