Young Voices members in Zambia have collaborated with WaterAid on a campaign on access to water and sanitation facilities. They held a joint workshop with WaterAid and journalists on water and sanitation for people with disabilities. The workshop aimed to encourage the media to report about the challenges people with disabilities face in accessing clean water and sanitation facilities.
A Young Voices member from the Budaka group realised that her school buildings and entrances were not accessible for people with disabilities. She raised this issue with her school administration. She was initially unsuccessful. However she went back to them accompanied by fellow members of her Young Voices group along with the sub-county community development officer. Together their combined voice has persuaded the school to take action. A week after their meeting five ramps had already been constructed and five classrooms had been made accessible for people with disabilities.
A Young Voices member studying at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) was allocated by the university to a third floor dormitory. However, he has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair. Together with his fellow Young Voices members he spoke to the University Board and wrote a number of letters to the University administration. Following this advocacy, not only has he been re-allocated to the ground floor, but the university has adopted a policy that students with disabilities will be allocated rooms on the ground floor. The next step for the Young Voices group in Tanzania is to make sure that this policy is properly implemented, and is also adopted by other universities and higher learning institutions in Tanzania.
All new buildings in Kenya will be built in an accessible way thanks to a decision by MPs at a conference on the new housing bill attended by Young Voices. The Young Voices members contributed to the review of the bill, which helped lead to this positive result in improving access for people with disabilities.
Young Voices members also attended a meeting with representatives of the ministry of roads regarding road safety, especially along the Thika Road superhighway. As a result of their input, accessible flyovers will be built along Thika Road.
The disability department of the local Tehsil (council) office in Mumbai, India is now located on the ground floor as a result of a campaign by the city’s Young Voices group. Previously situated on the second floor, the department was inaccessible to people with mobility impairments. Young Voices members first wrote to ask for the office to be moved in July 2011. When nothing happened after a few months, they filed a Right to Information application, using new this Indian legislation that gives people the right to know what happened to official requests. In response, members were told to apply to the district commissioner’s office (the highest government figure in a district), which finally ordered the council disability office to move to the ground floor from 1 June 2012. This success will help not only Young Voices members but also many other disabled people in Mumbai who have the right to access government support but previously didn’t have the opportunity.
Young Voices Malaysia have helped to make Wisma Tun Fuad Stephens the first disability-friendly building in Sabah. This building houses offices for several Government Ministries. We were on the renovation committee, and we were instrumental in making sure that a motorised wheelchair lift, ramp, accessible toilets, automated doors and tactile signage were installed.
A group of Young Voices campaigners in China have made history by using social media to make parts of the ancient Forbidden City of Beijing accessible to people with disabilities for the first time.
The Forbidden City is made up of a series of interconnected rooms, many with high thresholds which make wheelchair access impossible. The whole infrastructure is old and uneven, making movement around the city difficult.
The Young Voices used social media sites such as QQ to highlight the accessibility issues to the site. As a result, over 50 people with disabilities went on a group sightseeing trip to the Forbidden City. As they struggled to help the wheelchair users and people with sensory difficulties, the staff working at the site were faced with the reality of how many barriers there were. The staff passed on that message to the senior management who agreed to reinstall and develop the accessibility including ramps and lifts.
Not satisfied with conquering the Forbidden City, the Young Voices are also working with the China Disabled Person Federation to tackle accessibility issues at the Great Wall of China, one step at a time.
Congcong, one of the campaigners says: “Sites like the Forbidden City are of great national and international importance. Everyone has the right to enjoy such beauty. The City is a historic building but now it is also a building of the future.”
Disabled people will be able to access the services they need in Delhi’s metro thanks to a successful campaign by the city’s Young Voices group. When the newest line of the Delhi metro, in India’s capital, was completed in early 2011 Young Voices members were already campaigning to make the system accessible for people with disabilities. Before this, disabled people had trouble accessing the underground because of steep escalators, overcrowding, and difficulty seeing or hearing train information, etc. In response to meetings and a memorandum from Young Voices, the Delhi metro rail corporation has now agreed that a member of staff will, when necessary, escort disabled people to a train and radio ahead to the next station to say that the disabled passenger will be arriving. Once there, a member of staff will help the passenger to reach the next train, a bus or a motorised rickshaw to continue the journey. Those of us who trek to work on the London underground can only wish for such a responsive service.