Purpose: This paper aimed to demonstrate how participatory action research (PAR) within a Community-based Rehabilitation (CBR) project facilitated community participation to advocate for the rights of people with visual impairment. An advocacy campaign, led by the local people with and without disabilities, was launched for the construction of an accessible foot over- bridge (FOB) at Vangani railway station in Maharashtra, India.
Methods: The PAR approach was used to explore the issues faced by the local people with visual impairment. It ensured maximum community consultation, engagement and, consequently, meaningful outcomes for the community. Advocacy tools such as video documentary, online petition, media advocacy, and signature campaign were employed to publicise the issue on a larger platform. Sources for this paper included quantitative data from the survey of Vangani community and documents such as CBR project reports, media coverage articles, minutes of the meeting and correspondence with the Central Railways during the advocacy campaign that was conducted from 2012 - 2015.
Results: After 12 months of consistent advocacy, the Ministry of Railways sanctioned INR 15 million for the construction of the foot over-bridge. The construction work on the foot overbridge was completed in December 2016 and now it is open for public use..
Conclusion and Implications: This study illustrates how PAR within a CBR project successfully used an advocacy campaign as a tool for community participation, action and change. Although geographically limited to rural pockets of Maharashtra state, the learning experiences brought out some of the elements crucial for the success of an advocacy intervention within CBR programmes for the rights of people with disability in India.