Plan to Make Tehran ‘Accessible’ for Visually Impaired

Plan to Make Tehran  ‘Accessible’ for Visually ImpairedPlan to Make Tehran  ‘Accessible’ for Visually Impaired

A member of the Plan and Budget Commission in Tehran City Council said that generally speaking, a city is called accessible to the visually impaired when “they can reach anywhere or obtain anything just as a normal citizen does.”

Ali Saberi, speaking at a ceremony to observe the ‘World White Cane Safety Day’ (October 15) in Shiyan Hall, said the needs of the blind and visually impaired do not include adaptation of the structural environment such as streets and walking areas to suit their impairment. “Accessibility to places and services which better suits their needs is a necessity,” Mehr News Agency quoted him saying.

The safety day is observed around the world annually since 1964. The date is set aside to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and the important symbol of blindness and tool of independence, the white cane.

Adaptation is rather physical and mostly deals with the outward structures of a city whereas accessibility is a broader and more important concept which can include, for instance, online shopping from a big commercial center, he said. At another level, it means creating places for the blind to access information such as pharmaceutical or other services, in the same manner as citizens without disabilities do. “This important need has not been addressed in environmental adaptation,” he noted.

Saberi, who himself is blind, stressed that a unified city management system is necessary to attain accessibility, without which city councils can only implement ‘physical adaptation’ projects.

“The plan for adaptation of the structural environment in the capital has been approved in the city council in 2005 but has not been implemented yet,” he pointed out. He however, said the ‘adaptation headquarters’ has resumed its function to put the plan into action, but added “it needs revision.”

 Shahrvand Gesture

Saberi asserted that “I, as a blind member of the council, have made efforts to move towards accessibility.”

As a result of his efforts and in collaboration with the Tehran Municipality (TM), the Shahrvand chain has agreed to provide “companions” to accompany the blind who shop at the store.

To facilitate services for the visually impaired, the same rule applies to all branches of the TM and organizations affiliated to it.

At the end of the ceremony, a number of blind personalities were acclaimed for their endeavors in different areas.

The ceremony was attended by Elaheh Rastgoo, council board member and head of its NGO section, Mohammad Ali Dariyani, deputy for human resources, Qodrat Goudarzi, CEO of Shahrvand chain, Seyed Alireza Hosseini, Mayor of Tehran District 9, and other officials.