Accessible India campaign – a step towards dignified life for the disabled
It is the most astounding thing to see individuals with disability treated as outcasts. They, often subjected to sympathy and pity, are treated as second-class citizens. They are mostly deprived of living a life entitled to normal and healthy human beings. Society still isn’t able to understand that disability is not life-ending! It can never be an end while one is alive and has the will to fight and succeed. A shortcoming can never stop anyone from achieving their goals in life. There is always a method or a way out to get things done and achieve the desired goal.
We have seen many successful examples where disabled people have achieved success and adulation. To mention just a few – Helen Keller was the first blind and deaf person in history to earn a college degree. She went on to become an author, a political activist, and a lecturer. Stephen Hawking, the world’s leading physicist, suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and still thrived for a good 76 years. Sudha Chandran lost her leg in a mishap yet never gave up on her passion, and today she is a popular figure in the field of classical dance and as an actress. She achieved new heights with an artificial limb.
Nick Vujicic is a popular figure among people of all ages. Popularly known for his motivational speeches, he has no limbs and yet he fought his way through life. These people have been an inspiration for the world. Even while knowing this, we still consider disabled people to be a different class or a different segment of society.
‘Disabled’ is a harsh and rude word to address those who have lost certain physical capabilities in their life. ‘Specially blessed’ would be a far more relevant and respectful word to address them. They deserve respect in every possible sense. Yet they have been discriminated against and looked down upon when it comes to offering them opportunities and treating them with equality. They are not even given the rights to relish a lifestyle like that of everyone else. In India, they do not even have access to almost all the public and private places. They aren’t treated equal and are deprived of their rights to use the public transport and infrastructure.
They aren’t able to access public infrastructure like transport, cinema halls, theatres, parks, hospitals, police stations, tourist places, monuments, banks, post offices, metro stations, ATMs, commercial place, courts, and several other places.
Every segment of society has the right to access all the places in the city where they reside, whether they have disabilities or not. Access ramps must be given at all public places and buildings. One of the reasons why the people with disabilities or the ones who are specially blessed miss out on opportunities of work is because they do not have access to their workplaces. People with disabilities have been facing discrimination in jobs for several years. Despite the fact that they perfectly qualified for the given job, they are not employed just because of their disability.
We need to liberate our architectural and transport system in order to extend opportunities and equality to the disabled segment of society. There must be access ramps and railings for entering every government and private building. There must be a lift within the building such that physically disabled people can access multiple floors. It will make the life of the specially blessed a lot easier. Access ramps and railings can help people with disabilities lead an independent life. Disability lessens the movement of an individual, be it going to a cafe, attending a party or a wedding, shopping, commuting to the workplace, etc. as most of these places do not have access for the disabled.
They always need someone to assist them when visiting these places, which is not possible every time. An access ramp installed at most of the public places will make their life independent as they would not have to be dependent on anyone to help them out with their movement.
With the vision of the Accessible India Campaign, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is making Delhi ‘a disabled-friendly city’. This move will definitely change the life of the disabled and the way society looks at them. This move will uplift and improve their standard of living as they will be able to access most of the public and private places in their city and attend their workplaces. We shall continue contributing at any possible level to make this vision a sure success.
“Liberating the specially blessed” is the need of the hour. An active mind and cheerful heart have endless possibilities – they not just keep you alive but also keep your will alive. The step taken by the Union Ministry will prove to be a life-changing chapter for the disabled. They will not just be happy but also feel valued. The same needs to be implemented in all the cities and states across India. This must be fast-track implementation such that it reaches the ones in need at the earliest. Nothing can make up for the years they have been deprived of most of the resources, but this will bring a much-needed change in their otherwise difficult lives.
Prashant Agarwal is the President of Narayan Seva Sansthan, a non-profit organization serving differently-abled and underprivileged individuals.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)