Hospitals waking up to the disabled's needs, but slowly
People with disabilities have won some battles, but are yet to win the apathy war
Very few positive changes have taken place despite efforts by activists, disabled doctors and organisations. But they are continuing with their efforts to get barrier-free access to hospitals and medical institutes.
Dr Satendra Singh, a disabled professor and the coordinator of the enabling unit at the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) has been campaigning hard. Because of his efforts, the hostels of UCMS are now disabled-friendly to some degree.
Ramps have been constructed and railings have been built in some parts of the medical institute.
Mohammad Rashid, a polio-affected MBBS student at UCMS, says the change has come about at a snail’s pace.
“But it has come nevertheless. It would not have been possible without Dr Singh,” he says. “Also, disabled students in this college have a counsellor in Abha Khetarpal.” She heads ‘AccessAbility’, an NGO.
Dr Singh has also worked for a disabled-friendly environment in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. After actively advocating for ATMs that can be accessed by the disabled, Canara Bank and Bank of Baroda recently installed one such ATM each on the hospital campus. Even ramps were constructed leading up to the ATMs.
Another success for disabled students at UCMS has been the ‘leniency’ time of 15 minutes for them to reach their classrooms.
“It is very difficult for them to reach every class on the standard time. Sometimes, they have back-to-back classes; it becomes extremely difficult for them. So leniency time of 15 minutes has been granted to them,” says Dr Singh.
According to Khetarpal, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre is the only hospital in the city that is completely disabled-friendly. However, she says that though the centre provides an accessible environment and machines, it does not provide all general health services.
“So people with disabilities are still left to find a hospital that provides all general facilities. However, it is the only hospital in the city to provide weighing machines that can be used by people on wheelchairs,” she adds.
Another positive change that has come about in terms of machines for the disabled are the wheelchairs themselves, which are now better designed and customised.