The Hindu, India.
Sunday, September 03, 2006.
To protect visually-impaired passengers against fleecing.
NEW DELHI: As soon as a visually-impaired passenger enters a autorickshaw, he or she is greeted with an electronic "welcome'' and then a recorded sound says, "Starting fare is Rs. 8.'' Then when the passenger has completed the journey, the same electronic audiometer says aloud, "Total fare is Rs. 24 and 50 paise'' and "the distance travelled is 3 kilometres and 400 metres.'' While high-end technology may be a far cry in Indian autos - which, incidentally, have started operating in Britain too - this is how Delhi's 45,000 registered autorickshaws are expected to start operating soon.
Under a plan that is under active consideration of the Delhi Transport Department, the audiometers will have an audio output and will be installed in the electronic fare meters of all the autos so that visually impaired people will be able to know the distance travelled and the fare to be paid.
Work on the audiometers is being done by the Samarthya Centre for Promotion of Barrier Free Environment for Disabled People and the audiometers will be installed for making the passengers' journey more comfortable. According to Sanjeev Sachdev of Samarthya, the audiometer, basically an integrated circuit that would be installed in the existing meters, would be both easy to install and cost-effective. Costing just a few hundred rupees each, these ICs would also hopefully make manipulation of the meters difficult. Work was under way to improve the quality of sound emanating from them.
Simultaneously, to make travel for the visually impaired passengers safe and independent, the Transport Department had approved of the plan for installing Braille plates bearing the registration number of the autos on the exterior of the vehicles. This would make it easier for them to know the registration number of the erring vehicle.
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