Editor’s Note: Youth Ki Awaaz and CBM India, a leading disability and development organisation, have come together to kick off #Access4All, an informed dialogue around the many dimensions of accessibility. After all, there can be no equality without accessibility.
By Nipun Malhotra:
Imagine the life of a child who loves reading books but can never visit a bookstore. A young man who stops visiting his physiotherapist because the hospital he has been to all his life, suddenly has a new staircase. Imagine a person living a stone’s throw away from a theatre but having never seen a film, there. And imagine being 29, educated, earning, yet, never being able to visit an ATM to access his own money.
I know you’ve imagined enough, but I ask you to imagine one last time. IMAGINE being rejected from a job because you cannot access something as basic as the toilet. I’m not trying to paint a fictitious morbid scenario, but am merely describing my life and that of 2.21% fellow Indians with disabilities, who experience the same barriers.
If you don’t believe me, watch this video of me and my friend Vinayana, when we decided to take a trip to Khan Market, one of Delhi’s most upmarket and bustling hubs for shopping, coffee, conversations and more.
Worldwide, disability has shifted from being looked at from a medical lens to a social one. Today, it is not the disability that causes impairment but the physical, attitudinal and legislative barriers that exist in society. Thus, Vinayana, I and 2.21% other Indians are “disabled” because our country has failed us, and not because of the disability, itself.
I imagine an accessible India, one where Indians with disabilities and senior citizens have access to the same infrastructure and facilities that a non-disabled citizen has. I imagine a day when I can travel to work, eat at a restaurant, visit a bathroom and visit an ATM to withdraw money on my own. I imagine a day when we have stronger laws protecting me and ensuring markets like Khan (market) cannot remain inaccessible. I imagine a day when I’m treated with empathy, not sympathy. And finally, I imagine a world where accessibility is not considered a privilege or a social cause, but a basic human right. Will India convert my imagination into a reality?
Note: This video is a collaborative effort by Youth Ki Awaaz and CBM India, a leading disability and development organisation, as part of our #Access4All campaign. Please share it, and let’s all speak up about accessibility across schools, workplaces, transportation facilities and more. Join us in our efforts to help make India an accessible nation!
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