I have been reading some thoughts about making public places in India accessible and I do have some thoughts about the same.
Discussions are around entering one floor to another or changing platforms in Railway stations. The facilities can be introduced based on size of premise. We cannot practically have all of the options viz. ramps, escalators, elevators and stairs at all places.
For a small size shopping complex or for an apartment, it’s not a good idea to have an escalator so stairs and an elevator should be good enough.
For premises like huge shopping complexes, it would be good to have stairs, escalators and elevators. Why stairs and escalators? Let’s be realistic that country like India, not everyone is used to escalators and specially there are citizens who are used to stairs for several years and it may be difficult for them to use escalators. It’s close to impossible to build elevators that can accommodate large number of people at a time. There should be either stairs or ramps (ramps would be better so that it’s easy for people to walk with their baggage). Having escalators would help section of people who cannot walk for long and elevator helps people who are on wheelchairs and pregnant women.But in places like railway stations, having only stairs and elevators would not serve the purpose. Today, there are a large number of people who cannot walk for long or climb stairs; so they prefer to use escalators. Elevators cannot accommodate huge number of people.
In the recent visit to Yashwanthpur railway station, noticed there is a ramp in the 10th platform but ramp does not exist to come down on to the 1st platform. This would be dangerous. what if a wheel chair user decides to use ramp instead elevator and when he has to get down, gets surprise with no ramp at destination platform.
I urge all engineers and architects to think from different prospective before investing money on building stuff. When you are designing a solution for a section of people such as those with disabilities, it’s always appropriate to consult real users.