“They gave me admission, but not the ramp to walk-in to my class.”
Disabled’s have always been treated apart from society instead of a part of society. In our state they have an altogether different plight. They comprise of the neglected section of the society, pitied and sympathized but not treated with respect.
Indian government and the state government have given a 2% quota in government jobs to disabled people, particularly the physically disabled ones. There are also seats in all the college and university courses for them. The government has provided these persons with a relief of Rs 400 per month. Kudos! Realising the actual situation one feels like a TV without any cable connection has been given to them. They can turn it on but watch nothing.
Even though it is essential for government offices to be disabled friendly, but almost all of them sparing a few are not. How is it possible for a person on crutches or wheel-chair to reach the office he works in if it does not has a ramp? How is a student with a wheel-chair supposed to climb 12 steps to reach his classroom? Our schools, our universities, courts, secretariats and all other public places, none are disabled friendly.
Talking to a SSA (Sarv Sikhsha Abhiyan) personal about the necessary infrastructure and building requirements for Schools it came to light that for every new building it is mandatory to have a ramp and for the construction of same SSA provides a separate budget of 6000 rupees. Visiting a number of Middle, High and Higher Secondary Schools one is amazed to say that only one out of 20 schools have a ramp. Most of the schools and classes are inaccessible for the disabled, be it Government or be it Private School.
In-case if a school does have a ramp it won’t have any other facility for a disabled person like Disable friendly bathroom or classes. Almost all the Government schools especially Middle Schools don’t have benches or chairs to sit on, they just have mattings. Same is with the private schools, where benches are not feasible for the disabled students.
Every morning wearing a prosthetic leg and then starting the journey to her school, she has to hire an auto-rickshaw to her school, the matadors are too high to get into without any support, and the conductors too impolite to help her out. Private vehicle is their only way out.
Even the Universities are not disabled friendly. Education Institutions aside, the employers, the offices have the same sardonic story for the disabled. Almost all the Government offices, sparing a few, don’t have any ramps or any kind of aid for disabled employees (if any) to reach the premises or their place of work.
An employee suffering from polio and walking on sticks has to climb on to the first floor to reach his office; his only aides are his colleagues and his stick. Similarly an employee has to walk-in to his office without any ramps and a small door that even normal people find hard to enter.
“Yes, I do have a good job, but it is very hard to enter my office and sometimes I have to seek the help of other. But now I am used to it and it is a lot easier with my Scooter(Tri-wheeled) to travel and live my life normally” says the post-office employee.
Socially deprived and neglected, they themselves have now accepted this condition of theirs as a God-given problem without any solution. Most of the disabled people are depressed and have lost the spark mandatory to live a good and sound life. They live in recluse, away from the normal world. They are “others”
“Don’t show them pity and sympathy, they need encouragement and empathy instead” says Prof Bali, Chairman of a Special School for Disabled. “Most of them are willing and capable of working, but most of us are neither willing nor capable of employing them” he added. The lack of proper work environment and infrastructure create a physical barrier for them, on top of it the mentality and narrow-mindedness of non-disabled people in sharing their work-space or class-room seat with them creates a bigger and grimmer psychological barrier.
“People are insensitive towards us. We just want to be treated normal and accepted as we are.”
Apart from physical disabilities the mental disabilities are a graver matter of concern. These people are treated with a sense of disdain and alien-ness. Even-though there are several rehabilitation centers in our country
The plight is really miserable in the rural areas, where there are no rehabilitation or care centers for disabled people. The people unaware of their medical conditions just term them ‘pagal’(mad/mental), and maintain a distance from them. These ill-fated children are not allowed to join the normal schools. Despite the Indian government’s slogan of Inclusive Education, almost all the schools in the valley don’t have any such provision. All of our work-spaces, public or private, all our psychics and mind-setup go against these people.
A lot of them work and are far better than the so called normal people. Nick Vujicic, a Quadra-amputee(without arms and legs), who is one among the world’s foremost motivational and inspirational speaker says, “I don’t have arms, I don’t have legs, but I have a will that makes me live, and in fact live better than those who have what I lack.” He speaks to bring people out of depression and motivates them to lead a happy depression-free life.
India needs to develop keeping in mind the requirement of these people also so that ours can be one society with equal rights and opportunities for them also, and not only opportunities but also disabled friendly buildings, work-spaces and schools for them.