Today is 66th Indian Independence day. In this 66 years India have developed in many sectors such as Technology, Industry, Agriculture, defense, export/import, urbanization and many more. I am not sure if all the Indians are independent or not but persons with disabilities are still dependent on many aspects.
Yes, Indians with disabilities have changed very much in their lively hood. Many of them are economically independent, technically strong and well educated. Still I feel most of them are dependent on mobility, socially back-word and unaware of assistive technologies.
Like many difficulties for persons with disabilities mobility is a real barrier. We find very few hotels or restaurants that have the infrastructure which helps their wheel chair customers enter with eas, find very few government offices having the boards with large font and contrast colors (forget about the Braille boards) etc. The reasons for very slow and poor development in this area could be
- Very few institutes stress the importance of mobility aids such as white canes.
- No plans or expert discussions that find solutions to aid persons with disabilities on mobility aspects.
- Not able to adopt proven mobility strategies such as use of guide dogs in India.
- Low or no implementations of accessible guiding strategies in public transportation systems. Eg: Trains does not announce which station is next approaching.
- Expensive and unawareness of navigation systems such as GPS.
- No plans by department for the welfare of persons with disabilities of state/ central governments on mobility
And the list goes on.
Many of the persons with disabilities seems like a different creature for many of the people around us. When a visually challenged person is facing difficulty in finding the way 10% of the people only come and extend the help to guide while the remaining 90% watch how do the person go. I am not expecting everyone to come forward and extend your help but it’s nothing wrong in extending a hand to help.
I sometimes see people expect a visually impaired person come to them and ask for help. A simple logic “When a person cannot see, How can he come to you and ask for help?”. The scenario is really sad in rural villages of India. The people call a person with disability with the disability rather than the name. Imagine the situation of a visually impaired person when he is called “Hey blind!, can you come here?”.
It’s we who have to educate every individual and let them aware that persons with disabilities are also part of Indian Citizens.
Technology is fast developing and the fruits of technology is not reaching the poor and people who are from rural areas of India. It is the responsibility of each one of us to educate the persons who have disability and live in rural areas that technology is developed and they can work in many sectors, go for any higher studies and grow extensively in their business using great assistive technologies. Technologies such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, talking watches, voice enabled ATMs, mobile phones with speech recognizing technologies, refreshable Braille displays etc are available in the market. These assistive technologies help persons with disabilities do their day to day activities independently. Let the world know about these assistive technologies.
I would be happy if each one of you encourage education, employment and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and see them as any other citizen of India.