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MottoEnabling the dis-Abled
TypeNot - for - Profit
Chief Executive / Secretary-General
Dr. Ajith C. S. Perera

IDIRIYA,[1] is a not-for-profit registered humanitarian organisation focusing on disability rights that fully understands disability related access issues that affect a wide range of people in day-to-day life that concerns even their safety and physical, mental, economical and social well being.

IDIRIYA was born from its founder’s passion for creating an environment that is accessible to all BY DESIGN with dignity, regardless of the degree of physical ability.

Based in Sri Lanka, IDIRIYA comprises a group of professionals in diverse fields who offer their expertise and follow the principle that good design enables bad design disables.

They have aggressively promoted in Sri Lanka the concept of 'Social Inclusion for All' by design focusing on built environments - Safety being a paramount feature - that does not marginalise or discriminate against people on the grounds of inevitable diversity in ability and campaigned against arbitrary categorization of people.[2]

Although IDIRIYA do not seek to people with restricted ability, they support and strive to emPower them to lobby individually and collectively for positive change of a dis-Abling society by design, to benefit their own day-to-day productive lives.

The organisation receives no outside funding and has been kept functioning by voluntary contributions of time and resources, mainly by its members.


IDIRIYA was founded in 2005[3] by disability activist Ajith C. S. Perera.

It was born from Perera’s (i).. Passion for creating an environment that is accessible and user-friendly equally to everyone, enabling choice and with dignity, (ii).. Commitment to make a consciousness-raising eye-opener on accessibility to built environments, technology, goods and services and (iii).. Desire to promote universal design principles.

IDIRIYA have identified two prerequisites for a formidable and sustainable national economy: Viz. (i). Arresting the waste of productive human potential through mobilising the productive value of all people, able-bodied or otherwise, and (ii). Minimising unwanted dependents through empowering people.

They believe that construction of environments for inclusion of all people and optimum use of technology in daily life is cost effective, realistic and the effective way to arrest colossal waste of precious assets, enhances gainful opportunities for an increasing wide range of people and make everyone meaningful equal partners in Sri Lankan National development.

They realise the need for a new and more positive understanding and changing reactions to dis-ability and its related key issues.

This requires opening of minds to the social model of disability that explains how it's the dis-Abling designs of social environment that renders a wide and diverse range of people increasingly dis-Abled.


IDIRIYA’s vision is: Safety and Inclusion with Accessibility to Empower People of All Abilities. Enabling the people who are severely ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘marginalised’ in day-to-day normal life due to continuing poor building design and thereby establishing a society that does not discriminate against people with limited mobility - an inevitable fact as life unfolds.


IDIRIYA’s mission is: Creating awareness, Engaging support and Catalysing change actively to promote built environments that can be used equally and safely by all sectors of society, with choice, with dignity and without any hindrance.

The Simultaneous focus here is on two key aspects.

1). To design and conduct educational and awareness programmes[4][5][6][7] as an ongoing process, to stimulate the interest - and thereby induce a positive change in attitudes - to deliver better living environments and thereby to make communities liveable by everyone.

2). To provide the right guidance and proper advice,[8] when required, to those who desire to construct or modify environments or even a mixture of both, so as to be enabling equally for everyone.


Their work,[9] in performing the dual roles of accessibility advisers and accessibility auditors of built environments, is all about making a positive difference to the quality of human lives of able people who are disadvantaged or marginalised by dis-Abling society as they experience, for different reasons, restricted ability, mobility in particular and their safety in day-to-day life.


Their aims[9] are not to make profits. All members work in continuing to be: exceptionally responsive towards designing for inclusion of all, regardless of the degree of physical ability, and thereby emPowering everyone through 'increased opportunities' in daily life, to be more productive and gainful, healthier and full-fledged citizens.

Significant contributions[edit]

IDIRIYA recognise the fact that disability related internationally accepted design standards and regulations in building construction and design of key building parts by professionals in this vital industry, often run high risks of failure and thereby waste of resources in terms of practical implementation, if not backed by a good understanding of its intricacies and practical experience, as theory without practice is blind.

They realise that: Access and emPowerment of People of all Abilities is a crucial subject of national importance.

They further recognise that: (i). Accessibility experts need to perform a highly specialised job, yet under-estimated and unrecognized in Sri Lanka. (ii). Absence of the services of experienced accessibility experts is the missing link in Sri Lanka fuelling social exclusion and denial of enjoying several rights.[10][11]

They understand that the crucial role of an accessibility expert requires an in-depth understanding of intricacies backed by wide practical experience and thorough working knowledge on this subject that goes much far and beyond than what the university courses on architecture and civil engineering teach in Sri Lanka.[12]

It is not one where standards and specifications can be read and applied in vital tasks.[13]

As such, authorities undertaking such tasks of National importance often need expert guidance from those with insight, enough of practical experience and proven competence as to how best to do this Humanitarian work rightly first time.

To ease the difficulty of finding the right help IDIRIYA has also stepped in here.

Several organisations in Sri Lanka, both large and small, who desire to design and deliver better environments that can be used equally and safely by all sectors of society, regardless of their degree of ability, with dignity and with safety, have already benefited to get what they want here with the right guidance of Idiriya - a good testimony to their sincere commitment and proven competence.[14][15][16]

IDIRIYA in 2007 initiated action and paved the way in the establishment and launch of the first Sri Lanka Standard for design in building construction by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution - SLS ISO TR 9527:2006 - taking into consideration diversity in ability of people.[17][18]

Major achievements[edit]

Accessibility to built environments is an indispensable inherent basic human right.

Laws to require public buildings and facilities to be designed and constructed accessible to dis-abled persons were established in Sri Lanka in 1996 and further strengthened by the introduction of accessibility regulations under this law in 2005 and thereafter, receiving unanimous Parliament approval 0n 20 March 2007.

However, inept bureaucracy failed to establish a formal mechanism to implement and pursue the legislation and thereby to deliver practical effect, even in respect of new public buildings.[19]

Violators roam scot-free, significant setbacks to gainful opportunities of disabled people, increasing numbers hence driven towards poverty affecting even their immediate families, waste of human potential, etc., and thereby reduce our limited resources causing substantial losses to the country.

Even after 15 years this malady continues as the non-disabled decision makers fail to recognise this national disaster.

Seeking redress for physically dis-Abled persons accessing new public buildings, a fundamental rights application [Ref: SCFR: 221/2009] aimed at preventing further colossal losses the country incurs, was filed by IDIRIYA at the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in March 2009.

Ajith C. S. Perera, honorary Secretary-General and Chief Executive of IDIRIYA (as at 25 December 2015) appearing in person, argued the need to have the disability access laws and regulations already enacted some years ago, fully enforced and implemented with respect to new public buildings in Sri Lanka.[20]

The bench headed by the then country's Chief Justice and the country's current Chief Justice as at 1 January 2016, in delivering their unanimous judgement on 27 April 2011 which further strengthened the order given earlier on 14 October 2009, issued landmark orders having the potential to reverse these adverse trends and reap over 30 rich dividends for the country and its people - disabled and non-disabled alike.

This has been recognised in Sri Lanka as a significant achievement towards equalisation of opportunities, 'not simply' but the hard way, by the dis-abled for the dis-abled.


  1. ^ IDIRIYA on a national mission, The Island news, Retrieved on 28 November 2008
  2. ^ Ockersz, Lynn (27 March 2006). "Disability no dead-end". Features, OP-ED Page. Lake House - Daily News. Archived from the original on 11 January 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2009. Perera, has been aggressively promoting in Sri Lanka, with relentless commitment, the concept of ' social inclusion for all' focusing on built environments that does not marginalise or discriminate against people on the grounds of inevitable diversity in ability and campaigned against arbitrary categorization of people. The greatest asset a person has, according to Perera, is the ability to go about one's normal daily living independently. The marginalisation and discrimination by the society the restricted mobility brings is the principal problem. in this context. Accordingly, the prime challenge facing those dealing with our built environment - such as architects and designers - is to create 'enabling environments', which facilitate the mobility of all - the disabled included.
  3. ^ IDIRIYA launch - Enabling the 'Able yet Unable' Archived 1 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine., Sunday Observer features, Retrieved 2 April 2006
  4. ^ Access Ability For All, Island Midweek, Retrieved 4 June 2008
  5. ^ Designing to Include, Sunday Times Plus, Retrieved 22 June 2008
  6. ^ Enabling Environments for Better Health, Daily News Health Watch, Retrieved 23 September 2006
  7. ^ Accessibility is a national issue, Sunday Observer Features, Retrieved 1 June 2008
  8. ^ Random thoughts on ‘World Human Rights Day’ . Daily News, Retrieved on 10 December 2008
  9. ^ a b "Brimming possibilities in the disabled", Sunday Island features, Retrieved 25 November 2007
  10. ^ The imperative need for accessibility experts – the missing link. Sunday Times - 2, Retrieved on 25th December 2015
  11. ^ The accessibility experts – the missing link. Daily Mirror, Retrieved on 23rd December 2015
  12. ^ Accessibility Experts need to perform a highly specialised job, yet are under-estimated and unrecognised in Sri Lanka.. Daily News, Retrieved on 26th December 2015
  13. ^ The crucial role of an accessibility expert. Daily FT, Retrieved on 25th December 2015
  14. ^ Ability within Disability, The Nation, Retrieved 30 November 2008
  15. ^ An Enabling Environment for All, The Island, Retrieved 9 October 2007
  16. ^ Achievers Recognised and Appreciated, The Nation, Retrieved on 29 June 2008
  17. ^ "Design to include, not exclude, all people" (Press release). Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA). 29 November 2007. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2009. …. the Government (of Sri Lanka) has declared 2007/08 as the ‘Year of Access’ and the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (on an initiative made by this writer) responded expeditiously to establish a Sri Lanka Standard for building construction (reference: SL/ISO/TR/9527:2006.)
  18. ^ Perera, Ajith C. S. (2008-05-04). Access Ability For All - Why You? (first ed.). Colombo: IDIRIYA. p. 111. ISBN 978-955-1914-00-4. Chapter 18: Meeting the Building Needs of Disabled People by Dr. A. R. L. Wijesekera."
    "I am very happy to confirm that it was the initiative taken by IDIRIYA and its Secretary-General Dr. Ajith C. S. Perera, in proposing to the SLSI on 1 February 2006 and following-up matters thereafter on 15 March 2006 in addressing the SLSI sectoral committee as to the vital need of developing our own building standard in this regard, that paved the way for this achievement of national importance.
  19. ^ "Supreme Court order propels 'accessibility for all'". Features - Page 16. Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited – Daily News. 13 November 2009. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2010. Perhaps for the first time, the unassuming but able voice of disabled persons praying for ‘justice to access public facilities’ echoed loud and clears at the country's apex court. "
    " A fundamental rights application aimed at preventing further colossal losses the country incurs, was filed at the Supreme Court by Dr. Ajith C. S. Perera. Submissions were made on behalf of IDIRIYA by this disabled petitioner appearing in person. It was a significant achievement, 'not simply' but the hard way. "
    " Laws to require public buildings and facilities to be made accessible to disabled persons were established in 1996 and further strengthened by the introduction of accessibility regulations under this law in 2005 and thereafter, receiving unanimous Parliament approval. "
    " However, inept stagnant bureaucracy failed to establish a formal mechanism to implement and pursue the legislation and thereby to deliver practical effect, even in respect of new public buildings. "
    " "The Court recognised that in terms of the 'Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities' Act No. 28 of 1996 and accessibility regulations made there under, no person should be discriminated on the ground of disability and their mobility restricted in a manner which precludes or impedes them from gaining reasonable physical access to public buildings and facilities provided within such buildings, especially the toilet facilities. "
    ".Accordingly, the Court ordered the following. "
    ".1. All new public buildings as defined in the accessibility regulations No.1 of 2006, should provide 'reasonable access' to persons with physical disabilities. "
    " 2. All authorities that are empowered to approve building plans or issue any 'Certificate of Conformity' for public buildings should refrain from doing so in respect of any building which would violate this court order. "
    " 3. Failure to comply would draw punitive repercussions as set out in the law (which would very soon be made more stringent) . "
    " 4. The proceedings were terminated with liberty to you to file a motion, if there is any violation of the court orders. "
    " Clarification of court orders . "
    " What's acceptable as 'reasonable access'? It means the following key parts of a new public building stipulated by the accessibility regulations in force, not just the entrances, should be designed in accordance with the minimum design requirements there: floor surfaces, pathways and corridors, doors and entrances, steps and stairs, hand rails and grab bars, ramps (where needed), lifts, toilets, car parks and signage. "
    " Design requirements provide the basic essential architectural needs that address the diverse mobility needs of the widest possible range of persons.
  20. ^ Ockersz, Lynn (2009-11-08). "Landmark Supreme Court ruling – A fillip for accessibility rights of disabled". News - Page 17. Upali Newspapers - The Sunday Island. Retrieved 2010-01-26. The right of the disabled to have unhindered access to public buildings received a substantial boost when the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka ruled on 14 October 2009, that, among other things, all new public buildings in the country should conform fully to already enacted disability access laws and regulations. "
    ". Buildings in the commercial, recreational, social, educational, residential and industrial categories are expected to come under the purview of these laws, which were included in the statute book some years ago, but which have come to be seen as not fully and energetically implemented."
    " In terms of the SC order, made in respect of case no. SC (FR) 221/2009, these categories of buildings should render their facilities accessible to the disabled, including toilets’, said Dr, Ajit C. Perera, the disability rights activist, who personally represented matters for the disabled before the SC, subsequent to him petitioning the Court on the need to have the laws fully enforced and implemented. "
    ".He said that in addition to toilets, the following ‘key parts’ of buildings should be constructed in accordance with ‘design requirements’ set out in the law: entrances, floor surfaces, pathways and corridors, doors, steps and stairs, hand rails, grab bars, ramps, lifts, car parks and signage. "
    ".The SC order further states that all authorities who are empowered to approve building plans or issue any ‘Certificates of Conformity’ for public buildings, should refrain from doing so in respect of any buildings which violate these orders. "
    ".‘Any violations of the court order would incur punitive repercussions and would be seen as Contempt of Court’, Perera explained.

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