Unsuitable and unfriendly for the disabled

Most of the government and private schools are inaccessible for the disabled



“They gave me admission, but not the ramp to walk into my class,” says a disabled student. Disabled have not been treated as a part of our society. 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 two percent quota in government jobs to disabled people, particularly to the physically disabled ones. There are also seats reserved for them in all the college and university courses they can avail of. The government has provided the disabled with a relief of Rs 400 per month.
Even though it is essential for government offices to be disable friendly, but almost all of them are not, sparing a few. How is it possible for a person on crutches or wheel-chair to reach the office he works in if it does not have a ramp? How a student with a wheel-chair is supposed to climb 12 steps to reach his classroom?
While talking to the officials of SSA (Sarv Sikhsha Abhiyan) 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 its construction SSA provides a separate budget of Rs 6000. Only one out of 20 schools has the facility of a ramp. Most of the schools and classes are inaccessible for the disabled, be it government or private schools.
In case of schools that have a ramp facility, they don’t have any other support facility for a disabled person like disable friendly bathroom or classes. Almost all the government schools, especially middle schools, are without disabled friendly benches or chairs to sit on. Same is the case with the private schools, where benches are not suitable for the disabled students.
Every morning, wearing a prosthetic leg, a government teacher of a middle school in Batamalo has to hire an auto-rickshaw to reach 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 to reach their work places.
Even the University of Kashmir is not disabled friendly. Almost all the government offices in Kashmir, 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 of ZEO B. K. Pora, 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 of Post Office Rangrate has to walk-in to his office without any ramps through 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 others,” says the employee of post office. “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,” he says.
“Don’t show them pity and sympathy, instead, they need encouragement and empathy,” says Prof SS 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.” The lack of proper work environment and infrastructure creates a physical barrier for them.  The disabled also have to deal with the narrow-mindedness of people who hesitate to share their workspace or class-room seat with them. This creates a grimmer psychological barrier for them.
According to the 2001 census, J&K state had over 300000 disabled people. Their plight is worse in the rural areas where there are no rehabilitation or care centres for them. The concerned authorities in Kashmir need to keep in mind the requirement of these people so that ours can be a society with equal rights and opportunities for the disabled.  Besides providing opportunities for them, there’s a need to make disabled-friendly buildings, workspaces and schools.

(Bupinder Singh is an Izhar Wani internee in GK)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 21 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST

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