Assessable Sanitation and Toilets for Persons with Disabilities: A Human Right Approach

11 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2019

Date Written: March 28, 2019


According to the World Report on Disability (WHO) more than 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide and the rates of disability are increasing due to population ageing, increases in chronic health conditions and other factors. In developing countries there is a massive shortfall of sanitation facilities in general, and in particular of facilities which are accessible to all – including persons with disabilities. This is despite the fact that 15% of the world’s population lives with some kind of disability. The majority of these persons with disabilities live in developing countries (80%). They are among the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Barrier Free Environment is one which enables people with disabilities to move about safely and freely and to use the facilities within the built environment. The goal of barrier free design is to provide an environment that supports the independent functioning of individuals so that they can get to, and participate without assistance, in everyday activities such as procurement of goods and services, community living, employment, and leisure. The lack of accessible sanitation facilities can create humiliating situations as it deprives persons with disabilities of their most basic and private needs. It often leads to lower hygiene levels causing additional burdens of disease.

The main objectives of the “Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1996 enacted by the Government of India on January 1,1996 are to create barrier free environment for persons with disabilities and to make special provisions for the integration of persons with disabilities into the social mainstream. Chapter VII of the Act, Sections 44 to 46 deals with non-discrimination in transport on the roads and in the built environment. In regard to non-discrimination in the built environment, provisions have been made in this Act for ramps in public buildings, adaptation of toilets for wheel chair users, Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators etc.

Besides violating basic human rights, the exclusion from society also results in huge economic losses. The International Labour Organization estimates the annual global loss of GDP due to people with disabilities being excluded from income generating activities at 3-5%.

Present paper is an attempt to present real picture of availability of sanitation and toilet facilities in general and for persons with disabilities in particular. The need assessment is done with regard to sanitation facilities for persons with disabilities with specification of role of government and nongovernmental organization is providing accessible sanitation facilities for persons with disabilities using right based approach. Special emphasis is on the sanitation and toilet facilities for persons with disabilities living in rural areas.

Keywords: Ageing, Barrier Free Environment, Sanitation, Toilets

Suggested Citation

Bhanushali, Dr Kishor, Assessable Sanitation and Toilets for Persons with Disabilities: A Human Right Approach (March 28, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Dr Kishor Bhanushali (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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