• The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, was enacted to align with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
  • Disabilities, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 and effective from 2008. India ratified this convention in 2007.
  • This 2016 Act replaced the previous legislation, The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity, Protection of Rights, and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and came into effect in April 2017.
  • The Act mandates the central government to establish guidelines and standards for public buildings, which must be periodically updated based on the latest scientific knowledge and technology.


Mandates for Public Buildings:

  • Rule 15 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017, derived from the PwD Act, addresses accessibility in physical environments, transportation, and information and communication technology.
  • Establishments are required to adhere to the Act’s standards, with the 2016 harmonised criteria serving as the benchmark for public buildings.
  • In 2023, Rule 15 was amended to enforce compliance with the 2021 harmonised guidelines. These guidelines cover all aspects of building projects, including planning, tendering, and specifications for accessibility features such as ramps, grab rails, lifts, and accessible toilets.
  • The guidelines advocate for universal accessibility in project site planning and detailed working drawings, as well as during implementation, evaluation, and maintenance stages.
  • Building plans must meet established norms and requirements, and existing buildings must be made accessible within five years.


  • The Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the primary agency for infrastructure construction and maintenance for the central government, has directed its regional offices to ensure that all public buildings are accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Specific requirements include lifts with audio announcements and visual displays, and clearly marked emergency evacuation routes for persons with disabilities, with signage in Braille.
  • These measures exemplify India’s commitment to creating an inclusive and accessible environment for all its citizens, in line with international standards.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish July 9, 2024