So someone asked me to write a few articles on ‘discrimination and lack of accessibility for persons with disability’. And then it hit me. I’ve already made peace with everything. When I’m very much disturbed or annoyed, I shitpost on the internet and forget about it. But does it mean that discrimination is no longer there? Is everything accessible now? Now people like me are called “Divyaangs“, all thanks to our Prime Minister. Has it changed things? Has it made things accessible for us? Lots of love for you if you think it has.
Let me ask you a question. How many of you can tell me about 5 inaccessible places around you and your workplace? No, many of you can’t even answer this small question. I had asked the same question from candidates who were standing for the Presidential election in my college and they were not able to tell me. My college is one of the most accessible places, but still, there are many places which are not accessible. And these people had no idea about the inaccessible places. No, it’s not something I was expecting from them and I’m not calling them out or anything. Sorry if it felt so.
So after my accident and being rehabilitated after a year or so, I thought I’ll work to change things, like every teenager. And I faced defeat in many places. And then, the boiling teenage blood was replaced by irritated twenties.
The inaccessibility started at my home. I couldn’t get into the washroom. I couldn’t come out of my room because of a big step just in front of the door. I couldn’t get down from the first floor, and even getting me down by lifting me with the wheelchair was tough because of the narrow platforms. I couldn’t get out to get sunlight to help me with my pain. (Vitamin D and warmth of sunlight helps with neuropathic pain).
I couldn’t do a lot of things and the way I used to do things had to be changed. And it was still ok because you cannot break a house now to make it accessible so they broke/modified my wheelchair instead so that I could get inside the washroom. My parents were not expecting me to become crippled anyway. But, does it hurt to make stairs with a bigger platform? Does it hurt to keep doors two centimeters wider? Does it hurt to not to make unnecessary steps?
After making things manageable at home, I had to start my studies. I got admission in one of the so-called most ‘prestigious’ colleges in my city where my seniors used to tell me to stop ranting about the professors or the college or the exams on the internet because the college is the best, and I shouldn’t say otherwise even if I have a different opinion. But, they never came forward to help me make the place accessible. And also, it was not surprising.
There were a few set of stairs just in front of my department. There was a step-like thing, or you can call it a door post/jamb in front of every classroom. I once fell down because of it (it still gives me chills when I think about it) but, did it bring any change? NO! Folks from my college were happy to lift me, and help me, and show pity, but no one had any interest in making things accessible there.
Two principals changed and they kept assuring me that a ramp will be made, at least, in front of the department. It’s been 5 years and the stairs are still there.
I didn’t have to worry about going to the computer lab which was on the first floor. And I didn’t have to worry about going to first floor for the 3rd-year classes either as I stopped going to college in the first year itself.
There are many such experiences. And when you’ll look around, you’ll find that I cannot use the table that’s in your room because there’s no leg space. You’ll find that your washroom is not accessible for a person on a wheelchair. Your sink/basin is out of my reach. I cannot go and serve me food. There’s no leg space in the table where you work in your office. I fear if I’ll be able to get to the table itself.
I wonder if you know that making things accessible for a wheelchair user doesn’t add any discomfort to your home/workplace/life. Should I tell you about travel experiences too? I’ll keep it for the next post. Hope you’ll now be able to identify 5 inaccessible places around you.