By Neha Arora:
We have come a long way since independence but the accessibility awareness to create a disabled-friendly environment, is taking its first steps. We advanced as a nation with the metro coming into our lives in Delhi. But though it is very accessible for people with different disabilities, we still we don’t see many wheelchair users using it, or blind people walking on the tactile paths made at the stations. How many times have you ever seen people conversing in sign language in a metro? Rarely! With at least 8-9 % of the population (realistically) in India (2.21% by the 2011 census) having some sort of disability, how come they don’t use such a modern accessible public transport?
The answers are simple – lack of basic human sensitivity in our society, over protective nature of families, inaccessibility at many stations, lack of sensitised and appropriate assistive staff and an uncontrollable hurried crowd (to name a few reasons).
To break these barriers and inhibitions, my organisation Planet Abled has launched a unique fun train ride in association with the Rapid Metro. It is for people who have always hesitated to travel in a metro or travel out of their homes, in general, owing to any of the reasons mentioned above.
So, come Sunday (August 7, 2016), we would have a whole coach to ourselves with full on entertainment via music and laughter, and travel talks in a moving train for an hour, and the event will end with coffee and conversations at Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub.
This ride is not just another metro train ride. It is our subtle way of creating awareness about accessibility, by giving people with different disabilities, not only a chance to travel in the metro, but, to literally own it. It’s also an attempt to break the physical, societal and mental barriers that exist when it comes to travelling with a disability.
Since the metro is a public space that is open to all, more people would see, observe and realise, first-hand, that there is a segment of society that was hidden till now. But that’s about to change. People with disabilities will get out, and they will be having fun, while they are at it!
People can come alone, with friends, family and meet like-minded people perhaps to start new journeys of lifelong friendships. Coincidently, the United Nations has declared August 7, Friendship Day. What more one can ask for on a Sunday morning on such a wonderful day?
Youth Ki Awaaz is the official Media Partner for Social Change for this unique one-of-a-kind event being hosted on August 7, 2016. Get details here.