Removing the barriers to accessibility in schools

  • 25th January, 2023


  • Children with disability/disabilities (CWD) needed higher care to complete basic tasks which required physical involvement like playing or going to the toilet and became tougher in schools which do not have accessible spaces and other guiding infrastructure to get there safely.

 Meaningful participation:

  • A UNESCO 2019 report mentioned that CWD comprises 1.7% of the total child population in India (Census 2011). 
  • As they are faced with physical, institutional, socioeconomic and communication barriers from an early age, more than 70% of five-year-olds with disabilities in India have never attended any educational institution, the report said. Many CWD also tend to drop out of school as they grow older.
  • To motivate all children to meaningfully participate in all indoor and outdoor activities without barriers or limitations, the school ecosystem has to be made safe, accessible, and reliable.

Barriers in participation:

  • Several barriers impede the participation of CWD in accessing educational opportunities such as inaccessible school buses; inaccessible facilities in schools (drinking water facilities, canteens and toilets); and inappropriate infrastructure in classrooms (uncomfortable seating, slippery flooring and low illumination). 
  • Misinformed attitudes and perceptions among parents, teachers, staff, and communities further influences the child’s emotional development.
  • The lack of teaching and learning practices that integrate inclusive technologies and digital equipment to engage the child, such as assistive devices, are additional challenges. 
  • At training programmes conducted by UN-Habitat India and IIT Kharagpur recently, school teachers and special educators said that accessible infrastructure within schools, such as ramps or tactile paths, are either in deficit or have not been constructed utilising suitable materials.

Initiatives for children:

  • Article 21A of the Constitution and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 outline the fundamental right to education and the right to have free and compulsory education for children aged 6-14 years.
  •  The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which adopted a ‘zero rejection policy’, emphasises that “every child with special needs, irrespective of the kind, category and degree of disability, is provided meaningful and quality education”. 
  • India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Aligning with this commitment, the government launched the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) in 2015 and an important pillar of this campaign is accessibility to built environment. 
  • The government has also been supportive of the principle of Leave No One Behind (LNOB), which is the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


  • Developing inclusive and accessible schools will be a big step towards not only challenging perceptions about CWD, and the associated discrimination, but also in actualising the zero-rejection policy in schools.

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