Enabling the differently-abled

Enabling the differently-abled

OASIS

About a decade ago, my husband and I planned to visit a famous dam. We had heard that there were buses to take sightseers to the top, from where we could get a good view of the cascading water. On reaching the site, however, we saw no sign of those vehicles.

We informed the guard at the check-post that since my husband had suffered a stroke he could not walk, let alone climb, the distance of over 1 km. We further explained that since my husband was a civil engineer he was especially eager to see the dam. Refused permission to proceed by car, we requested a wheelchair, only to learn that none was available. We turned back regretfully.

When it comes to easy access to tourist destinations for the infirm and elderly, India has a long way to go. One tends to compare our limited resources in this area with facilities for the vulnerable abroad. Still, in the 23 years since my husband’s mobility was partially impaired, I am happy to acknowledge that incidents like our dam disappointment have been few and far between. In fact, just the other day, the manager of a multiplex made it his mission to ensure that my husband watched a film, with the utmost comfort and convenience.

While we could certainly do with an abundance of assistive appliances in public spaces, there is no substitute for caring individuals. My husband and I rarely lack a helping hand, and that is not only when we travel. Many a time, when we are seen to be struggling, someone younger and stronger proffers his/her services, which we gratefully and gracefully accept.

We should rid ourselves of the notion that people who are physically challenged feel insulted if shown extra consideration. After all, our bestowing concern and compassion do not preclude treating them with dignity. Let us render support with sensitivity to those who need it, deferentially enabling the differently-abled!