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Tini Sara Anien, DH News Service, Dec 2 2017, 1:32 IST
Woman in wheelchair

Woman in wheelchair

"Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you're needed by someone," said tennis player Martina Navratilova. True to these words, time and again, disabled individuals have proved that they are champions in their own way. With the 'International Day of Persons with Disabilities' arriving on December 3 with the theme 'Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all', some Bengalureans voice their needs for better facilities.

Madhumitha Venkataraman, a member of 'Diversity Dialogues', who has an orthopaedic disability, feels strongly about the need for accessibility. "Even the most accessible places like the airport don't have sign language interpreters or provisions for speech and hearing impaired. Also, people are not able to understand disability when it comes to individuals like me who don't use crutches or wheelchairs. Accessing roads and pavements are difficult for us yet the support system isn't good," she says.

Madhumitha wonders what the purpose of ramps is when it can only be accessed after climbing some steps. "Many restaurants and some malls are like this. There are more ramps being set up now but how does one access them if some steps have to climbed before using them?" she asks.

When it comes to public transportation, buses should have portable ramps in them so that passengers can board or deboard them easily, she observes. "Cab aggregators should make provisions for people who face challenges while boarding the cabs. It would be a good start," she says.

Dhanya Ravi, a freelance content writer, who suffers from brittle bone disease, agrees that there needs to be more cab aggregators, which understand the special needs of disabled people and are available at economical rates.

"Despite Bengaluru being the garden city, there are very few green spaces that are accessible for the disabled. Apart from ramps at the gate and pathways in parks, an inclusive park with safe instruments, where wheelchairs users can also play could be looked into," she adds.

Dhanya, who had to be home-schooled, says that schools and colleges need to inclusive too. "All schools should be wheelchair-friendly," she says. "A proper channel for guidance regarding therapy and other medical support for disabled people should also be developed," she adds.

Anuradha Patil, manager (LRC) with Cheshire Homes India, Bangalore, who works with disabled people, believes that navigating in public buildings like schools, colleges, hospitals, post-offices and government offices should be made easier.

"If a speech-impaired person visits a hospital, he or she should be able to go through the formalities without any difficulties. For the visually-impaired, audio clips of the entire admission process and forms in the Braille script should be provided," she says.

Madhumitha pitches in, "When there are instructions in public spaces in English, Hindi and Kannada, why not the Braille? This is what inclusiveness means," she points out.

A lot of planning goes into activities like shopping at the mall or visiting a restaurant, as the availability of a ramp has to be checked, says Bhuvaneshwari A, assistant manager with an MNC. "Getting into buses or entering public spaces are quite a challenge," she says.

Despite being a modern city, the people's mentality also needs to change, she adds. "At many work spaces, there is a lot of rethinking done about assigning a disabled person with a fresh project or an off-shore assignment." She believes that everyone deserves a platform to showcase their abilities. "After all, it's all mostly in the head, isn't it?," asks Bhuvaneshwari.

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