With not even one per cent being disabled-friendly, colleges are difficult to access for many

According to the new disability law, any college being planned must make provisions for the disabled. But the question is how many of them will comply.

It is a testimony to how far we are from realising the dream of smart cities that not even 1% of India’s 789 universities, 37,204 colleges and 11,443 stand-alone higher education institutions are disabled-friendly. This startling statistic was revealed by a forum for disabled students. Since 1995, when the government made it mandatory for educational institutions receiving aid from the State to reserve 4% seats for people with disability, there has been little improvement in the situation. Despite the enactment of the Right to Education Act in 2009, which promised free and compulsory primary education to every child in the country, less than 0.1% of India’s 2.68 crore people with disabilities are enrolled in schools. As they move from primary to secondary and higher education, the figure drops to a dismal .01%.

The dearth of infrastructure that facilitates access for the physically challenged — ramps, railings and accessible wash rooms – is just one of the reasons which prevent them from pursuing their studies. There is the absence of trained staff and alternative teaching aides. In order to compete with their peers, the partially sighted, for instance, need specialised books and material in Braille. Those are seldom provided. In the last decade, since the non-profit Samarthyam’s Centre for Accessible Environments began conducting access audits for educational institutions, co-founder Anjlee Agarwal doesn’t recall coming across even one college that can be termed disabled-friendly.

Despite the laws having acquired more teeth to deal with this issue, our planners and builders remain apathetic. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill passed in 2016 sets the government a two-year deadline to ensure that those with disability get barrier-free access in infrastructure and transport systems. Additionally, it holds the private sector — builders and developers — accountable for creating an accessible environment. This, experts say, is a departure from the 1995 act which was largely toothless. The punitive action for non-compliance can be a five-year prison term. So, in accordance with National Building Code announced in 2016, any new school and college being planned has to be 100 per cent accessible.

Since building by-laws are a state subject, implementation across the country is uneven. The few exceptions to this appear to be government-led initiatives in Odisha, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Still, putting up a ramp here and a disabled-friendly toilet there doesn’t really turn things around. One measure of a civilised society should be the sensitivity it displays towards the disabled. If a chunk of the 2.68 crore physically challenged people in the country cannot board a train, watch a movie or operate an ATM owing to lack of access, and if we make it difficult for many of them to attend college, all the talk of a demographic dividend amounts to little.

A day out for differently abled with winged visitors

Battling the cold with sparkling enthusiasm, as many as nine differently abled members of the Chandigarh Spinal Rehabilitation Centre went for a bird walk excursion to a bird watching spot located at the Sukhna lake, along with members of the Chandigarh Bird Club, here on Thursday afternoon.

With most of the indoor patients of the facility belonging to age group of 24 and above, the excursion was conducted as part of an annual visit organised under the aegis of M S Sekhon, head of department of geography, DAV College, Sector 10, and president, Chandigarh Bird Club. “Being differently abled, we cannot exclude them from the outings and other nice things in life,” said Sekhon while speaking to TOI.

The bird walk that began from the regulatory end of the lake, commenced from the parking area beyond the Nature Interpretation Centre and witnessed an amazingly efficient support staff comprising physiotherapists, nurses and other kinds of helpers, pushing the wheelchairs of patients through the muddy terrain of the birdwatching stretch.

Peeping through the specially designed binoculars, Ashish (25), a paraplegic patient at the facility, said, “I had seen these birds last year as well. They were nice. The weather was the same though. It was the same kind of cold.” Kaushalya, one of the indoor patients at the rehab facility, said, “I love coming here. I love nature and I am enthusiastic about a lot of things like swimming.”

Numerous senior members of the Chandigarh Bird Club, an eight-year-old group of the city comprising young officers, bureaucrats and teachers among others, educated the differently abled individuals about the different species of birds like barheaded geese, coots, common pochard, tufted ducks, black headed geese, little grebe among others. “I just love being a part of this group because I am a nature lover and this lets me explore that side of me while also appreciating Chandigarh as a city,” said Amandeep, a club member.

 

Most of the patients admitted at the rehab facility have been dealing with spinal injuries arising out of road accidents and bullet and knife wounds among other causes. Speaking to TOI, Prem Jit Singh, a physiotherapist at the facility, said, “Most of these patients here have been living in our facility for a few months now. They also have their family members here with us as well. They are from all over the country and have also come from places like Bengaluru and Kerala. Spinal injuries leads to paralysis, making them paraplegic and quadriplegic.”

 

When asked about the occupational background of the patients, he said, “Most of them have jobs and businesses and some of them are students too. Each time they take a break for a few months, they come to our facility for treatment and support.”

18. Abilities Redefined Forty Life Stories of Courage and Accomplishment

ABILITIES REDEFINED

Forty Life Stories of Courage and Accomplishment

By Mukta Aneja & Eyeway Team

Editorial Board:

A.K. Mittal–Consulting Editor:

J.L. Kaul, George Abraham — Editors

Published by: All India Confederation of the Blind sector – 5, Rohini, Delhi – 110085, India

On the Occasion of the Confederation’s SILVER JUBLIEE Celebrations 2005

dedicated to the loving memory of LAL ADVANI The Doyan of the Disability Movement in India

Presented by: Shivangi Sharma and Rani Kochar

 

To download or play click the following links: 40 blind acheivers original tracks with mp3

 



17. A Life Free From Violence The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act

 

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act:

Editor: Sheela Ramanathan

Presented by: Shristhi Kathuria and Shivangi Sharma

A Commentary

This is a compilation of commentary on the Domestic Violence, women face, which goes normally unreported because of the lack of a support system. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 has tried to recognise the difficulties women face due to violence and discrimination and seeks to design a system to provide relief to the victims of such violence.

Every lady in our country must make herself aware of the rights given to her by this Act, for their own use or to help other women.

 

To download or play click: A Life Free From Violence The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act audiobook