People with disability make up close to 20% of the world’s population and are considered one of the the world’s largest minorities; yet, they are often ostracised from the community and face difficulties in accessing many buildings and places.
To address this issue, the Dhaka Hub of Global Shapers Community – a voluntary network of youth dedicated to their city’s development – launched project “Odommo” with the aim of making Dhaka a more friendly city for the disabled.
While project Odommo only began last year, it has already made some great strides in working with various organisations to make them disability friendly.
The Odommo team of Dhaka Hub reached out to the retail store of Bata in Tongi, and found out that it didn’t have a ramp. Bata was very supportive of the idea of making their store more disability friendly, and built a ramp at the entrance of their Tongi store.
“We see this as a responsibility and an opportunity to do something for the community; we thank the Hub for taking this initiative and we will continue to try and make our stores more accessible,” said Sin Kim Lee, retail manager of Bata.
“This is a historical movement for the private sector of Bangladesh,” said Mohammad Mohasin, captain of the Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association of Bangladesh and cofounder of the Bangladesh physically challenged cricket team. He is also a shaper for the Dhaka hub and an active member of project Odommo.
“Bata has promised to build ramps in all their outlets soon and we aim to go ahead together in this endeavor,” Mohasin added.
The Dhaka Hub of the Odommo team has been in talks with the Bengal Foundation about getting a ramp for their entrance and a notice for a parking space reserved for people with disabilities. They have marked out a parking space, which is the closest to the entrance of the Bengal Foundation compound. Bengal Foundation is also renovating a bathroom on their ground floor and have floor announcements and braille on their lifts to aid the visually impaired.
“Bengal Foundation has come forward to make their office accessible which we think is a very good initiative and thanks to the Global Shapers to give us the opportunity to provide the technical advice on this issue,” said Salma Mahbub, general secretary of B-Scan, who advised Bengal Foundation on how to make their compound disability-friendly within the limited space.
“We hope this will encourage other organisations to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities. Accessibility is not only a requirement for persons with disabilities it is also a mandatory rule to follow the building code,” she added.
While most of the North End cafes in Dhaka are disability accessible, the Cityscape Tower 1 has a raised wooden platform, which poses a barrier to people on wheelchairs. The Odommo team of Dhaka Hub has taken measures for building a ramp there.
Project Odommo’s next steps include designing and creating stickers of acknowledgement to award restaurants that are disability friendly and
promote them online. The team also welcomes and applauds any organisation that would volunteer to make their spaces more friendly to people with disabilities.