Let us design to include everyone
Accessibility is a national issue:
Dr Ajith C. S. Perera
Pix Herbert Perera
From an esteemed echelon of chartered chemist and senior manager to
test match panel umpire, his accomplishments were many until the dark
angel of fate hit his life: caught up in a gruesome accident when a tree
came crashing down on his car; his destiny was changed forever leaving
him paralysed waist downwards.
Placed in such situations, many would indubitably spend the rest of
their days in utter despondency probably waiting agitatedly for their
But for Dr. Ajith C. S. Perera and IDIRIYA’s commitment to fight the
cause of accessibility for humanity and enabling environments for all
has been yet another milestone, a different approach to success:
justification of a national cause turned success.
As Dr Perera emphatically says ‘Accessibility is a national issue.’
Designing for inclusion of all people makes everyone meaningful equal
partners in national development minimizing unwanted dependencies,
reducing poverty, promoting self-esteem and enhancing self-confidence in
attending to daily life activities.
Many people today are being made disabled by the designing of our
environments’. Statistics available are underestimated and unrealistic
and do not include the temporarily disabled, the invisibly disabled
younger people, elders carrying children, people carrying luggage and
careers as well as the increasing disability in pregnant mothers
although statistics reveal an estimated 25 per cent fight a silent
battle to obtain access or use most facilities and services as they
experience hardship in walking steadily or climbing steps.
Being a country with more than an 12 per cent ageing population we
shall be further affected with many serious health issues too; a
colossal burden with detrimental effect on the economic development of
the nation. ‘Enabling everyone is the winning way for Sri Lanka,’ Dr.
Perera further emphasized.
As Winston Churchill said, ‘We make a living by what we get, we make
a life by what we give’ Dr. Perera and IDIRIYA are bent on creating an
environment that are equally accessible to all segments of society and
endeavour in designing and conducting educational and awareness programs
to kindle interest of people to make positive change in attitudes.
‘Victory belongs to the most persevering.’ Be a part of the change we
wish to see in the world’.
From a paradigm of the social stigma of disability to social
environment and how it renders people disabled, the shift of focus has
drawn much attention: basis for more meaningful corporate social
responsibility work and ‘Accessibility’ is now mandatory by law finding
recognition under the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ together with the assistance
of the Ministry of Social Welfare and the National Council for People
with Disabilities to provide as a matter of priority convenient access
facilities for the disabled in all public buildings with the assistance.
Regulations under Section 23 and 25 of the Protection of the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities Act No 28 of 1996 which may be cited as the
‘Accessibility Regulations No 1 came into effect in October 2006.
Deputy Solicitor General, Palitha Fernando speaking at the forum
‘Access ability for all’ said the implementation of the act is not
forceful enough and they are looking into making it more effect.
The delayed is not due to lack of understanding but because the
Attorney Generals’ Department is looking into it very seriously and
carefully in order to ensure that each provision could be put into
operation. It will be enacted soon.
Dr Ajith C.S. Perera presenting copies of his book
‘Accessability for all’
Dr. Perera addressing the gathering speaking on the benefits of his
book ‘Accessability for all’ which was launched that day and the first
copy presented to his beloved mother. He further emphasized the enormous
range of benefits accessibility brings to a wide range of people and
make everyone a winner.
Dr. Perera spoke of the invaluable contribution of twelve
international and twenty local experts with psychological benefit: the
importance of taking early decisions prior to becoming disabled, an eye
opener to the business sector, employers, professionals and property
developers bringing economic, social and physical success to everyone
and for thinking ahead as John F Kennedy said “The time to repair the
roof is when the sun is shining.”
Small changes can bring in enormous benefit. ‘Great things are not
done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together with
devotion’ as it has been for the compiler.
Meanwhile, Prof Carlo Fonseka on the subject of ‘Designing for access
is designing for humanity’ said Dr. Ajith C. S. Perera is one of the
most inspiring and inspired human beings I have met and compiling this
book and organizing this major awareness program meticulously says it
all. I have nothing left to say because Dr. Ajith has said it all here
as well as in his writing. He has made a tremendous impact on society.
Disability is a major problem in Sri Lanka and has been an
unrealistic underestimated problem for different reasons and inevitably
the risks run very high ,the causes are numerous and anyone could be the
next afflicted. But it is not the end as it wasn’t for Dr Perera and
many like him.
‘It’s the ability within disability that really counts.’ Statistics
reveal that the realistic situation disability becomes a silently
problem. Citing a few common incidences like eye sight disabilities,
pregnancy, arthritis and cervical spondilosis and the side effects of
steroids have caused further problems Dr. Perera said the commonest
problem is mobility, and non accessibility contributes further.
Dr. Tissa Wickremasuirya, Medical Director Asiri Group of Hospitals
commending Dr. Perera said disability is a major problem in Sri Lanka
and has been an unrealistic underestimated problem for different reasons
and inevitably the risks run very high, the causes are numerous and
anyone could be the next afflicted. But it is not the end as it wasn’t
for Dr. Perera and many like him. ‘It’s the ability within disability
that really counts.’ Statistics reveal that the realistic situation
disability becomes a silent problem.
Resource personnel who supported Dr Ajith C. S. Perera in his
Citing a few common incidences like eye sight disabilities,
pregnancy, arthritis and cervical spondilosis and the side effects of
steroids have caused further problems Dr. Wickremasuriya said the
commonest problem is mobility, and non accessibility contributes
That they would extend they would extend their fullest cooperation to
promote the voluntary mission of IDIRIYA and enabling environments and
support in all their endeavours in working out strategies for the future
Oscar Braganza, Managing Director and CEO CEAT Sri Lanka was the
chief guest, while Pravir Samarasinghe, CEO Richard Pieris and Company,
Mrs Viji Jegarasasingam, Secretary Ministry of Social Services, General
Manager/Area Director Taj Samudra, Saurad Ratan also addressed the