History is tucked into every corner of the Qutab Minar. And, for the most part, it is lost to the visually challenged — thankfully, not for long.
The Delhi circle of the Archeological Survey of India has decided to make popular monuments of the city "disabled friendly". A simple addition can make a world of difference, says a survey commissioned by the circle. Braille plates containing interesting information about the monument will be placed at every important point of the complex. All that a blind person has to do is run his hands over the sandstone structure to feel history come alive.
The survey recommended a host of other features to make heritage monuments more accessible for the disabled. "While more ramps for wheelchair-users and other such features are a standard for enhancing accessibility, a major emphasis of the recommendations is on making Qutab Minar friendlier for the blind as well," said AK Sinha, superintending archaeologist of ASI (Delhi).
Staring with the Qutab Minar complex as a pilot project, the recommendations will be implemented at all popular monuments in the capital.
TD Dhariyal, deputy commissioner for persons with disabilities, welcomed the initiative and said it would set a good example for other government authorities as well. "A few years ago we had requested the ASI to arrange for disabled-friendly facilities. A more accessible heritage site is good news for everybody," he told HT. Dhariyal added that a small replica of the monument would help a blind person visualise the monument better.
Three years ago, the ASI had installed a Braille plate containing some basic information at Safdarjung's Tomb.
This time, however, the plates will have detailed information, including popular trivia. "Since the response to the facility at Safdarjung has been positive, we will now extend the facility to all popular monuments in Delhi," he said.
The survey also recommended making more ramps and special toilets for the physically challenged.
Moreover, the ASI may also consider experimenting with the idea of special guides proficient in sign language for the hearing-impaired. "We are just toying with the idea. We invite any non-governmental organisation, which works with the disabled, to make suggestions on this unique concept,” Sinha said.