The Sri Lanka Institute of Interior Designers, invited Manique Gunaratne to speak at the World Interiors Day 2022 Programme at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in May 2022.
Sri Lanka Institute of Interior Designers is the apex body and the national organization for Interior Design in Sri Lanka. Founded by a group of interior designers as the Association of Interior Designers in 1984, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1998 as the Sri Lanka Institute of Interior Designers (SLIID). The members consist of MSc. holders to Diplomates and Students in Interior Design.
The International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers Day falls on May 28, 2022. The theme for the year is “Pride of the Past – An Incentive for the Future”. In keeping with this theme, the goal is to build an awareness of disabilities people face from birth and during unexpected situations, and the need to address this issue as designers, through the concept of “Design for All”.
In other words, trying to find the answers to the present crisis in the country through innovative universal designs which would benefit each one of us in the long run.
Manique Gunaratne spoke on:
Principles of universal design: Equitable use; Flexibility in use; Simple and Intuitive Use. Perceptible Information. Tolerance for Error. Low Physical Effort. Size and Space for Approach and Use.
Examples of universal design
A briefing about laws and regulations.
MANIQUE GUNARATNE Committee Member – SPRINT Committee of Family Planning Association
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is working to promote meaningful and sustainable inclusion of persons with disabilities across all its programmes and operations and to effectively and systematically include persons with disabilities, especially #women and young persons with disabilities in development, humanitarian, sustaining peace and peacebuilding settings.
As such, to initiate a dialogue to identify and strengthen advocacy, accountability, inclusion mechanisms and to identify key areas of interventions and potential partnerships UNFPA organized a stakeholder consultation with persons with disabilities and those who work with persons with disabilities in May 2023 at the UN Conference Hall.
Manique Gunaratne contributed on how to include women with disabilities and key priority areas.
Traveling is a universally cherished experience that offers enriching insights into different cultures, landscapes, and lifestyles. For persons with disabilities, embarking on a journey can be even more profound, as it presents unique opportunities for personal growth, empowerment, and breaking down barriers. We delve into the significance of traveling for individuals with disabilities and highlight its transformative impact.
Manique Gunaratne created the opportunity for a group of persons with disabilities to visit the Girihadu Seya Temple in Trincomalee district in December 2022.
The oldest incident connected with the site is etched in an 8th century Sanskrit epigraph found at the site which refers to a shrine named Girikandicaitya being established on the hill-top by a company of merchants headed by Tapassu and Bhallika.
According to the Nidanakatha and Mahavagga a book on the Vinaya, Tapassu and Bhallika were two brother merchants who offered some victuals to the Buddha, in the 8th week after his enlightenment. They are considered the first lay disciples of #Lord #Buddha who sought the refuge of the Master and the Dhamma. And on request the Master gifted them with a handful of #hair #relics. Tradition claims that the two merchants enshrined the holy relics and built a shrine here.
As such this shrine would have been built during the lifetime of Lord Buddha. Scholars attribute it to possibly the c. The present structure or the ruins of the vatadage consisting of a small stupa encircled by two concentric circles of stone pillars and a retaining wall of stone slabs, however is believed to have evolved with time.
The vatadage at Thiriyaya, while conforming to the general pattern of the vatadage, had architectural features which have not been noticed at any other shrine of this class.
The capitals of the pillars at Thiriyaya have not been separately carved and joined as at other vatadage sites. Facing the entrances at the cardinal points are altars of carved granite slabs. At the head of each flight of steps is a stone doorway.
The four entrances at the cardinal points are provided with moon stones, makara balustrades and naga guardstones . The moonstones are plain except for a lotus petal carving at the circumference. The guardstones are the most striking artistic feature. The Naga kings are depicted as having an air of austerity, not overloaded with jewelry and are benign in expression. According to scholars these qualities along with their elongated limbs suggest the Pallava style of art belongs to a phase earlier than Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.
Another unusual feature here is the evidence of a wooden upright of a railing which may have covered the space between the top of the stone wall and the roof. Around the vatadage are seen the remains of image houses of which the largest housed a large recumbent Buddha image.
On the terraces lower down the hill are ruins of monastic structures, ponds and flights of steps leading to different levels. A stone bridge indicates that an ancient highway passed this site. Some rock caves bear early Brahmi inscriptions indicating the existence of a monastery even during pre-Christian times. The earliest datable inscription at the site is the pre-Christian Brahmi inscription recording the dedication of a cave to the Buddhist monks.
As such a pilgrimage to Thiriyaya vatadage is a poignant experience for the Buddhist in you as much as the naturalist, architect and archaeologist in you.
MANIQUE GUNARATNE Manager – Specialised Training and Disability Resource Centre of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon
Travel involves; before the trip: planning, during the trip: enjoyment and formation of new memories and after the trip: utilization of obtained resources.
Therefore, with all these arguments, there is no option but to conclude that travel improves self-esteem and social skills in addition to having a clear and direct health benefit. Travel is the key that opens the door to what all human beings crave: happiness.
Manique Gunaratne created the opportunity for a group of persons with disabilities to visit the Yapahuwa Rock in January 2022.
Yapahuwa was one of the ephemeral capitals of medieval Sri Lanka The citadel of Yapahuwa lying midway between Kurunagala and Anuradhapura was built around a huge granite rock rising abruptly almost a hundred meters above the surrounding lowlands.
In 1272, King Bhuvenakabahu transferred the capital from Polonnaruwa to Yapahuwa in the face of Dravidian invasions from South India, bringing the Sacred Tooth Relic with him. Following the death of King Bhuvenakabahu in 1284, the Pandyans of South India invaded Sri Lanka once again, and succeeded in capturing the Sacred Tooth Relic. Following its capture, Yapahuwa was largely abandoned and inhabited by Buddhist monks and religious ascetics.
The rock fortress complex of Yapahuwa is situated in the North Western Province, Sri Lanka. It is approximately between southeast of Mahawa midway Kurunegala and Anuradhapura. The original name of this Buddhist Heritage is Yapawwa, but now this is called as Yapahuwa which is a kind of distortion of its genuine etymological sense.
Yapahuwa served as the capital of Sri Lanka in the latter part of the 13th century (1273–1284). Built on a huge, 90 meter high rock boulder in the style of the Sigiriya rock fortress, Yapahuwa was a palace and military stronghold against foreign invaders.
The palace and fortress were built by King Buvanekabahu I (1272–1284) in the year 1273. Many traces of ancient battle defenses can still be seen, while an ornamental stairway is its biggest showpiece. This staircase is a long one with around 100 steps. On top of the rock are the remains of a stupa, a Bodhi tree enclosure, and a rock shelter/cave used by Buddhist monks, indicating that earlier this site was used as a Buddhist monastery, like many boulders and hills in the area. There are several caves at the base of the rock. In one of them there is a shrine with Buddha images. One cave has a Brahmi script inscription. At the southern base of the rock there is a fortification with two moats and ramparts. In this enclosure there are the remains of a number of buildings including a Buddhist shrine. There is also a Buddhist temple called Yapahuwa Rajamaha Vihara built during the Kandyan period.
The Tooth Relic was brought from Dambadeniya and kept in the Tooth Temple built for the purpose at the top of the third staircase. The relics were carried away from the temple here to South India by the Pandyas, and then recovered in 1288 by Parakkramabahu III (1287–1293), who temporarily placed them in safety at Polonnaruwa.
The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka is the implementing partner of the project called Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme IN humaniTarian settings (SPRINT). SPRINT was designed to address gaps in the implementation of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for #Reproductive Health, which is a set of priority activities to be implemented at the onset of an emergency. As one of the most vulnerable groups affected in emergencies, SPRINT prioritizes persons with #disabilities in decision making and providing access to community-specific, life-saving SRH needs. Therefore, under SPRINT IV, FPASL organized a training on MISP targeting persons with disabilities.
Manique Gunaratne together with the trainees of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre contributed in this endeavor. In order to make this training programme a success, all persons with diverse disabilities which included vision impaired persons, #hearing impaired persons, persons with physical disabilities and parents of persons with intellectual disabilities were selected.
The objective of the training was to sensitize persons with disabilities on the implementation of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Emergencies. The nominated participants were able to share the learned information with their larger community. They are also active participants representing the persons with disabilities in decision making and implementing services specific to fulfilling SRH needs of their respective communities.
The training was held at Granbell Hotel, in March 2023. All training materials were prepared in accessible formats such as Braille, large print, audio (DAISY), accessible formats and in sign language by The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre.
MANIQUE GUNARATNE The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, 385 J3 Old Kotte Road, Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka.
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre together with the Internet Society Sri Lanka Chapter and the Accessibility Standing Group of the Global Internet Society organised a webinar on “Exclusion to Inclusion” in December 2022, by respecting the culture, language and diversity of disability in being equally treated in the digital space.
The importance of this webinar was effective participation by persons with disability in relevant decision-making processes based on the recognition of the disability movement’s mission: Nothing about us without us.
We, disability leaders in Sri Lanka agree that we advocate for:
The ratification and implementation of international instruments such as the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Marrakech Treaty and the Sustainable Development Goals (as related to persons with disability) in our country.
The commitment by Governments to make ICT and the digital environment in our country accessible for persons with disability by formulating and implementing legislation and regulation in accordance with the international instruments. This includes making e-government services accessible adhering to the current version of W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This commitment should be enforced by the governments with designated trained staff as well as reasonable financial resources. Furthermore, research and development in accessible technology be supported for low cost availability of digital products to persons with disability.
Making educational facilities and curriculum at all levels accessible through an equal delivery mechanism. Developing and delivering university courses on digital accessibility.
Providing an enabling environment facilitated by accessible digital resources in the public and private sector for creating employment opportunities for people with disability.
Businesses and the private sector making their online services accessible and adhering to the current version of W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
International donor agencies and IGOs providing accessible technologies, both hardware and software, to people with disability in their developing country programs. This includes training in the effective and safe use of the Internet.
Internet organisations welcoming people with disability in their deliberations and making their programs and communications accessible. Concurrently, people with disability will build knowledge to proactively and productively participate.
The accessibility of communication, advertisement and public messaging through the provision of alternate formats.
The most significant aspect of this webinar was that all resource persons were persons with disabilities making the nothing about us without us concept a reality. Ms. Manique Gunaratne (vision impaired), Ms. Gunela Astbrink, Mr. Chamod Ruwanga (vision impaired), Mr. Udara Gnanaratne (partially sighted), Ms. Chani Jayathilake (physical disability), Mr. Thusitha Rangana (hearing impaired) and Ms. Nandani Wijeratnam spoke on digital rights of persons with diverse disabilities.
MANIQUE GUNARATNE Advisory Board Member – 18+ Alliance for Care Leavers (SOS Children’s Village)
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre conducted a sensitise programme for persons with diverse #disabilities on “Prevention of Cancer” in September 2021. Dr. Janaki Widanapathirana conducted the session to make awareness among persons with disabilities because health is equally important for persons with disabilities as well.
People with disabilities are more likely than the general population to suffer anxiety, discomfort, and animosity. To a significant measure, such attitudes arise from a lack of understanding of disability and what it’s like to live in a world with individuals who do not share that experience. Therefore, this initiative greatly supported to bring a change to create an inclusive approach.
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU) took the initiative to implement a project to provide recommendations on Disability Accessibility andCapacity Building of Local Government Authorities in Sri Lanka. This project is part of an initiative supported under the Capacity Development of Local Governments (CDLG) project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka with the financial assistance of the European Union (EU).
The team from EFC led by Manique Gunaratne which included persons with diverse disabilities did an disability accessibility checking to give recommendations at Dimbulagala Pradeshiya Sabha, in Polonnaruwa district, in North Central Province in January 2022 to give recommendations on how to make the Dimbulagala Pradeshiya Sabha access for all.
CDLG is a four-year project (2020-2023) targeting the Eastern,
Northern, North-Central and Uva Provinces of Sri Lanka.
2 Advocacy Group discussions were held at
the Dimbulagala Pradeshiya Sabha with persons with disabilities belonging to Dimbulagala
Pradeshiya Sabha and staff members (persons with non-disabilities) of the
Pradeshiya Sabha on how to have an inclusive approach when providing services
which already exists.
It is part of the European Union’s STRIDE (Strengthening Transformation, Reconciliation, and Inclusive Democratic Engagement) programme focused on strengthening the capacities of local government authorities to be inclusive, responsive, and accountable, and improve service delivery.
MANIQUE GUNARATNE The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, 385 J3 Old Kotte Road, Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka.