It was the carelessness of a doctor that changed Sandeep Kumar's life completely. At the young age of six, a doctor had given him an expired penicillin injection, driving the Jhansi resident into coma for a year. Eventually, his upper body recovered, but he was bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
To everyone's surprise, Sandeep, with the support from his parents, continued going to school. "In small towns people tend to believe that once you are disabled your life is over. They expected my father to open an STD shop for me. So when I started going to school again they would ask my father why he is wasting money. Many disabled people go into a shell but I didn’t let the complex overpower me," he told The Hindu.
Sandeep went on to become an engineer. He rejected an IT job, unwilling to be confined to a cubicle, and continued looking for opportunities. His desire to move around and help people eventually got him the job of a customer service officer for IndiGo at Delhi's Palam airport. This made him the first paraplegic person from India to be employed in the aviation industry.
He told The Times of India, "I love the job. It helps me connect with at least 250 people a day and assist them... Elders bless me and many young people have told me they feel inspired. Issues related to disabled people who are flying IndiGo are my priority."
Sandeep also won the Universal Design Award in 2015. The award is given by National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and Mphasis each year to honour individuals and organisations doing exemplary work towards the cause of accessibility.