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Need of Housing for Physically Handicapped

By Dr. S. N. Bansal On 2017-02-03 12:02:23

The importance of housing has been recognised in the old civilisations which have existed from times immemorial. The Sanskrit word for a married couple means the owner of a house. The great philosopher and religious leader Buddha has stated:


Development of human settlements provides the best forum for ex-change of experience in solving the problem on the part of Government. The improvement of rural settlements has been engaging the attention of the Government. Apart from inclusion of the rural shelter programme in the minimum needs programme to two Five Year Plans, the scheme of allotment of house sites and construction assistance for rural poor facilities is one of the foremost items of the 20 points programme of the present Government. In order to motivate the people to build more durable shelter at low cost, the National Building Organisation, the Delhi Development Authority, Central Public Works Deptt., Town and Country planning organisation have taken up clusters of low cost demonstration shelters spread all over the country.

The environment improvements taken up alongwith construction of demonstration houses by the Government, have been inculcating the sense of clear hygienic living. But, no steps have been taken up by any Government agency to meet the requirements of physically handicapped category.

The Government has issued instruction to reserve fixed percentage and preference to the physically handicapped to all housing agencies and land development organisations. Undoubtedly, our government has been making all possible efforts to provide essential amenities like site and services to the poor and economically weaker section. Even the quota fixed for physically handicapped in allotment of house and land is not adequate to meet the requirement of sufferers.

The data collected from National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) regarding disabled population in India during the year 1980 shows 969401 and 149647 in rural and urban respectively. It means 6.5 time handicapped are more in rural in comparison to urban. Therefore our architects and planner should think for the rural, keeping in view the requirement of all types of handicapped like blind, deaf and dump and orthopedically handicapped. At the time of fixing the housing quota for physically handicapped, their needs requirement should primarily be taken into consideration. It is not enough that we are providing the house to a handicapped but it should have the proper utility for the user (handicapped). Therefore, it is suggested while fixing or reserving the quota, for physically handicapped, the extent and nature of disability must be kept in mind, at the planning stage as well as at the construction stage also. Our design should also meet the real requirement of handicapped, keeping in view their case, comforts, environment, economy etc. Even at the time of selection of site, proper care must be taken for the approach road in getting transport easily.

For the following categories of “Physically Handicapped” the houses shall be designed:

The blind i.e. who suffers from either of the following conditions:
1. Visual acuity not exceeding 6/60 or 20/200 (Shellen) in the better eye with correcting lenses,
2. Total absence of sight.
3. Limitation of the field of vision subtending an angle of 20 degrees or worse.
The deaf; and
The orthopedically handicapped i.e. those who have a serve physical defect or deformity which causes undue interface with the normal functioning of the bone, muscles and joints.
1. Layout should be easily for the free movement of chair, wheel chair, crutches, callipers, artificial limbs and others so that the user may not feel uncomfortable in the house. It is also suggested to make main entry of house wider so that, in case of emergency, bed can be taken out side alongwith handicapped.
2. All services connections like water, electricity must be at a level of ease, so that, they may not feel dependent on others.
3. Stair case shall be designed in such a manner that its riser should not be more than six inches with a step width as ten inches as minimum. Brick rail must be provided for support. Steel railing may cause accident. A ramp parallel to staircase is suggested so that a handicapped may not find difficulties in carrying the goods.
4. Loft, cup-board, box, shelf etc. should be provided at a level according to the nature of disability. The location shall also be decided as per actual requirement of user.
5. Flooring for the houses of physically handicapped should not be glazed and extraordinary smooth. Try to avoid marble stone and marble ships flooring because it can cause accidents. Preferable ordinary cement flooring is recommended.
6. The finishing of internal walls shall be white washes over ordinary plaster. The exterior of the building shall also have ordinary plaster with water proof paint etc. this will not only reduce the cost but it will avoid accidents etc. in case exterior of a building is rough coat plaster or stone grit or any rough finish it will cause accident and it is expensive also.
7. The furniture shall be provided strictly as per the requirement of the handicapped. It is suggested that all furniture shall be light in weight, minimal maintenance and repair. The furniture for the physically handicapped shall be designed form economic point of view also.
8. It is not advisable to provide pelmets and curtains in the houses for handicapped because it will be difficult for a handicapped person to maintain it.
9. Cooking counters in the kitchen shall also be designed keeping in view the easy and free circulation in the kitchen, alongwith wheel chair etc. height of the cooking counter will definitely differ with the category of handicapped individually.
10. Bathing space and location of a latrine pot is a matter of selection of suitable location as per the requirement of nature of disabilities, Location and height of washbasin, mirror, taps etc. cannot be standardized because these will differ in every case.
11. While designing external services like roads streets, paths, sewer and drainage etc. the maximum care is to be taken in designing from the point of minimizing the hindrance in the movement and convenience of handicapped. It is not recommended to make open drains for the drainage of the locality. No manhole cover shall be fixed of higher level with respect to the level of roads.
12. While deciding the plinth-level of a building care is to be take to look into the rise/height available with respect to existing road level. More plinth height means more rise or slope is required to use the building.
13. At the time of making the layout of the houses all care shall be taken to avoid direct entry into house from roads as suggested in the sketch.

The ideal layout of house for physically handicapped should be form the point of economy and maximum comforts with all amenities like park, path, roads etc. this type of layout will also prove hygienic, clean and will be free from encroachment by the others. The small parks shall also be useful for the user of the cluster. For enjoying open air they do not have to go far.

While allotting the house it is suggested to avoid putting handicapped of one categories in a cluster, so that sense of understanding among the neighbourer handicapped will improve.

It is a matter of high level authorities to decide the location, size, type of houses for physically handicapped. It needs co-operation, consultation and exchange of views in between Health Ministry, Urban Development Ministry, Rehabilitation Ministry and Social Welfare Ministry.

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