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Stories of Change

Persons With Disabilities

We Can Fly!


Not yet barrier-free

The issue of disability has more visibility now, but there is still work to be done, says Sanjeev Sachdeva

A travel enthusiast, Sanjeev Sachdeva has been advocating for barrier-free environments for the disabled, particularly at places of historical, religious and tourist importance. He has done this through Samarthya, an organization he co-founded in 1996. Samarthya was instrumental in making Delhi’s tourist hotspot Dilli Haat accessible for the disabled—a first in India. Here, he says that though there is greater awareness about the disabled, the law on disability rights is yet to be passed.

“Since the show, more people are coming forward to support the issue of disability. Media coverage of the issue has increased. Also, more disabled people are gainfully employed. It has become a level-playing field. The general public is more sensitize now.

However, disability is not one of the areas highlighted in the Companies Act and so, corporate social responsibility funds are not very likely to come to the disability sector. Besides this, the new legislation on disability rights is also pending.

But technology has made the lives of the disabled simpler. For instance, SMSes, mobile alerts, talking phones, ringtones, etc., have made the lives of persons with hearing and visual impairments better. The brain-computer interface has given persons with severe disabilities opportunities to express their emotions and interact with others. But the availability of indigenous, reliable and cost-effective assistive devices is the issue.

Finally, social support services, like those provided by care givers, are crucial for persons with severe disabilities. But the cost of these is very high and not many such services are available. Unfortunately, this leaves many creative minds confined within four walls.”



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