Last Sunday while my husband and I waited outside Wal-Mart to be picked up by a friend we saw a car getting parked into the reserved area for the handicapped. We both kind of looked out of curiosity what handicap did that pretty and bold looking lady had. We saw her get down almost on one foot, and instantly pull out the wheel chair from the rear and wheel away. I wondered if anyone with such a handicap in India could be behind the wheels and live a life so independent.
Another day on the bus we saw how the driver ensured the wheel chair is securely fastened before he could start the bus. And how the blind guy could just flash his card, walk with his white can and comfortably occupy the designated seat .
I believe not even in their wild dreams can such handicap be not really that much of a handicap in life in India.
While I have seen reserved parking areas back in India too of course, I have never seen them being utilized. I have seen ramps in a lot of buildings , accessible wash rooms but hardly any one with the wheel chair on the move. I have not researched on the statistics but am pretty sure there are enough challenged in India too but they are not equipped to be by themselves into the same society as ours.
In my stint with the work I do with blind schools, the under privilege etc back in India I have met many physically and visually impaired and have always got the feeling that they are as smart (many a times even smarter) but yet deprived. It is extremely disheartening to know how these people are not still part of the main stream society.
Did you know you can also get into similar conversations with the “disabled” just like you do with the others ..how was your weekend, hey you lost weight and which team are you cheering for during the IPL. I admit before I met a few people so closely, I used to wonder what kind of conversation can one get into with someone who cannot see. Trust me they have a view point too!
I have a friend/colleague who is visually challenged but ever enthusiastically charged I would say. Not one day have I spoken to him when he has complained of his handicap, if ever he was feeling low and speaking of the challenges he faced it was always because our society is not enabled. Every time I speak to him (that’s many a times on instant messenger) I wonder what it will take to have all such visually impaired friends live a life which is not dependent.
Well the list is endless if I start to talk about the changes that we need to bring about in our society but to start with I would think we need to open our minds to them. We need to tell ourselves yes they are challenged but it is us who are disabling them. Let’s create the mind-set to enable to society in at least one way for the disabled. I dream, I hope you too will share this dream – of an enabled society for the disabled.