Towards a barrier-free environment
1. What is your view about World Disability Day? Does observing it really help?
Observing the International Day of People with Disability (December 3) does ring a bell in the minds of people about the subject or the persons affected by it. We look at the Day as an acknowledgement of the needs and rights of disabled persons. By observing World Disability Day, you’re influencing a progressive mindset among the non-disabled. But having said that, attitudes changing without any concrete change, makes no sense. Hence, it’s about time we take that leap and ensure that some action is taken to enable the mainstream inclusion of the disabled and that is not possible unless people implement the already existing laws.
2. Can you tell us about your group and the work you are doing? How can one help the disabled and what are the opportunities for them in our country?
Give Some Space is an initiative for the social inclusion of the differently-abled. Accessibility is empowerment and the first step towards social inclusion is to have the right infrastructure in place. Give Some Space is currently working towards sensitising people on the importance of a barrier-free environment for the differently-abled through online and onground activities. We’ve also got two ramps constructed in the city. Our prime motive is to work towards having the right infrastructure which will facilitate accessibility and social inclusion of the differently-abled. We believe that accessibility is a right and not a favour. Most do not avail education because of the physical or infrastructure barriers and the attitude barriers that prevail in the country.
3. What is the importance of the right infrastructure?
If we have the right infrastructure in place, then parents can send their children to school. Education leads to empowerment which, in turn, will lead to employment opportunities, provided that the employment spaces have the right infrastructure and accessibility. A barrier-free environment is where a disabled can move around independently without the help of others. I’ve heard people talking about not spending money on infrastructure because they don’t see a lot of disabled people around. It’s a vicious circle, no infrastructure means no mainstream opportunity, leading to social exclusion, further leading to no infrastructure. For the differently-abled to come to the mainstream, we need more barrier-free environments in schools, colleges, workplaces and places of recreational usage. It’s only when you see more disabled people around that you will start accepting them. When you provide for a barrier-free environment, you let the disabled be independent and it automatically influences your attitude about them. A barrier- free environment can play an instrumental role in changing attitudes. We need infrastructure professionals to follow the rules for a barrier-free environment.