EghtesadOnline: Municipal bodies in Iranian metropolises, from Tehran to Isfahan, are becoming more socially responsible and upgrading urban infrastructure to meet the needs of the physically-impaired community.
This week, Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi emphasized in a press conference that henceforth, no urban project should be launched unless its compatibility with the needs of the physically-challenged citizens is ensured.
"Ideally, all the paths, urban facilities and public transportation systems should be adjusted for the use of mothers carrying their toddlers in baby strollers, the elderly and those with physical impairments," he added.
Hanachi noted that urban managers in the capital have been ordered to make changes in public places, like parks, shopping malls, walkways, bus stations and urban transportation system, making them more convenient for those with special needs, Financial Tribune reported.
Although this calls for an overhaul and hard work, officials in Tehran have implemented measures to make life a tad easier for the community.
Peiman Sanandaji, the head of Tehran Bus Company, told reporters that the capital's bus fleet has been upgraded with three new features in favor of those who are visually impaired.
On the occasion of White Cane Safety Day, internationally marked on Oct. 15, TBC launched a voice bus stop announcement system in Tehran's bus rapid transit lines.
The system calls out the name of each station in advance, so the visually impaired do not miss their stop.
Sanandaji explained that at the bus stations too, the estimated time of bus arrival is announced vocally and through notice boards.
In addition, 36 path guide elements, special boundaries and corduroy paths have been established in BRT stations to help the visually-impaired find their way to the buses.
"Besides, 190 ticket machines in bus stations have been upgraded with Braille notes to ease their use for the visually challenged citizens," he said.
TBC and Tehran Taxi Organization have been providing students with movement difficulties or visual impairments with free travels since the beginning of the current school year (Sept. 23).
According to Mohammad Alikhani, a member of Tehran City Council, as per an agreement, TTO and TBC have invested 140 billion rials ($1.2 million) and 80 billion rials ($695,000) respectively to offer the services.
Measures in Isfahan
Besides Tehran, Isfahan’s BRT lines are also planning to serve people with special needs by the end of the current Iranian year (March 2020).
Alireza Salavati, managing director of Transportation and Traffic Organization of Isfahan Municipality, said BRT stations in Isfahan will be equipped with the elements necessary to improve the visually-challenged people’s accessibility to transport facilities.
"Special fences and blister paths will be set up in and around the bus stations to help visually-challenged people scan their surroundings and get on the buses more easily," Salavati said.
Isfahan has three operational BRT lines (Lines 1 to 3).
More Efforts Needed
Earlier in March, Kazem Nazmdeh, the head of State Welfare Organization’s rehabilitation office, said less than 30% of urban and public spaces in Iran are retrofitted for the disabled.
Nazmdeh told the media that lack of accessibility of public facilities for the disabled has long been ignored.
According to the Statistical Center of Iran, the total number of people with at least one type of disability (physical, hearing, visual and mental) in the country exceeds 11 million, which is 13.5% of the total population of 83 million.
However, those registered by SWO are close to1.5 million, of which 100,000 have chronic conditions of disability and housed in care centers affiliated to the state organization.
"A large number of disabled people live with their families in cities and villages. They are in dire need of specialized and daily care to be able to lead normal lives," Nazmdeh said.
He recommended clearing urban spaces from physical barriers that hamper the movement of the disabled in society and facilitate their access to public places like shops, banks, cinemas, hospitals and leisure centers.
Providing ramps and stairway lifts, widening doorways, installing automatic doors, providing more lighting and clear signs in public places and buildings are other measures required by the physically and visually impaired people.