LAHORE Pakistans first Independent Living Centre (making disabled persons access to campuses unhindered) is to be set up at the Lahore College for Women University. Japans Milestone and Mainstream Association International will provide assistance and guidance for the centre, University VC Prof. Dr. Sabiha Mansoor told a seminar held at the campus on Thursday. The centre will be the first in the countrys public sector universities. The LCWU will sign an MoU with the Japanese association and the institutions will work together for designing the LCWUs campus on the principle of the Universal Design for Barrier-Free Architecture. (All academic and administrative buildings of the University will be set up on that design.) The centre will also provide technical assistance to other universities and educational institutions across Pakistan regarding designing their barrier-free campus, she said while appreciating the role of the Environmental Science Department of the University for initiating environmental awareness activities and research projects. The seminar on Accessible Living Environment for All was hosted by Environmental Science Department. A delegation of Mainstream Association International including Mr. Matsushima, Mr. Kirian, Mr. Sato and Mr. Shunji Kadaota addressed the seminar. The Japanese partner institutions include Tokyo Institute of Technology, Aichi Gakuin University, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and International Center for Literacy and Culture in Tokyo. Dr. Kausar Jamal Cheema, Dean Faculty of Natural Sciences, Prof. of Environmental Science Department delivered keynote address. In her address, she described the international protocol and agreements about the rights of persons with disability. She mentioned different environmental hazards and factors that pose risks and cause disability. She highlighted the needs of designing the campus LCWU which would be barrier free for all in respect of mobility and access. She stressed that the Millennium Development Goal for ensuring environmental sustainability cannot be achieved unless effective change takes place in national policies and programs. She explained that Disability results from an interaction between a non-inclusive society and individuals. For example; person using a wheelchair might have difficulties gaining employment not because of the wheelchair, but because there are environmental barriers such as signs, inaccessible buses or staircases and ramps which impede access. Students and staff of educational institutions with mobility related problems and vision impairment become more physically at risk in case of inaccessible buildings, emergency and in situations of disasters. Mobility and access to class rooms, laboratories, library, computer facilities, cafeteria, grounds and students activity centres are the issues that need special care and priority to address to make institutions more friendly and conducive for the participation of these people more effectively. In case of emergency or accident, evacuating in time and sheltering are the issues of consideration, she added. Mr. Farrukh Mehmood Malik, President of MILESTONE and Ms. Maria Qureshi described the story of movement of the Milestone Society for the betterment of persons with disability and their independent living environment. Mr. Shafiq ur Rahman, founder of the Milestone Society delivered a detailed lecture focusing on the need of establishing Independent Living Center at educational institutions, such as LCWU. Japanese leaders from Mainstream Association International, Osaka, Japan described the history of Independent Living movement in Japan and gave their recommendations to establish barrier free living environment for persons with disability in an educational set up in Pakistan. Mr. Shunji Kadaota highlighted the need of self determination as first step towards independent living.