Sunday, April 19, 2009

Disabled Friendly

Can you guess what the equipment which looks like an ATM is?

This is a device for people on wheel chairs to seek help in the Charels de Gaulle airport, Paris.

A wheelchair-bound person navigates his wheelchair to the machine and presses a button. The blue and white pad on the floor senses if there is really someone at the machine, a camera sends the image of the person someplace and within minutes there is someone to escort the wheelchair-bound person to wherever she/he wants to go in the airport. Very efficient. Very disabled-freindly.

India is supposed to have 70 million disabled people. They are mostly invisible. What is more, it is said that until the 2001 census their number was not even known!

As far as I can see, ours is a very disabled-unfriendly country. Try taking a wheelchair-bound person to a movie in Bangalore and you will know.

Even though, in terms of facilities, we are disabled unfriendly, I should say that the amount of pesonal help rendered by people is staggering. All you have to do is ask. Since most of our disabled are invisible, most people in public places are unaware of how to deal with them. But once you request them and tell them what to do, what you can get done is staggering.

And staggeringly touching and heart warming.

What the people in power have neglected is compensated for by the ever obliging public. Many even look as if you have done them a favour after helping you, instead of the other way around.

Makes me feel that ours is a terrible country manned by a terrific people.

But, the fact remains that a disabled person should feel no need to seek help to lead a normal life. It should be his for the taking, not for the asking.


  1. Great post - and that ATM like thing is so heartwarming, really.

    I realized how disabled-unfriendly we are when I was laid up for six weeks with a ligament tear in my ankle.

  2. This situation makes me feel sad always. `Disabled friendly features' is one thing I constantly noticed when we visited the US and the UK. Here, they are made to live without dependence and also to live with dignity.

    Here is one instance: We were traveling in a bus in the Stanford Univ. campus when suddenly the driver stopped the bus and pressed a button. The level of the front portion of the bus came down and stood at the level of the foot path. As we looked on, an African American student, a dwarf, wheeled himself into the bus. He actually had no arms and his palms with very little fingers were attached to his shoulders. Legs were also very very small. His wheel chair was made in such a way that he himself could operate it with his fingers. The driver lifted a three seater and fixed it to the body of the bus, thus making place for the wheel chair. The student wheeled himself to this place and adjusted its position. The driver pulled out a long seat belt and fastened it around the wheel chair. Again, just a press of a button brought the front portion of the bus back to its original level, and the driver proceeded. After a few stops, the driver stopped the bus at a place where the student wanted to get down, helped him wheel out of the bus and continued further. { No need to say I remembered (with moist eyes) my dear one- who has difficulty walking.}

    Sounds like a fairy tale, right? Can you imagine such a situation in our country? The disabled are snatched away of their right to lead a normal life. And I am sure that the student I saw, will have without anybody's assistance visited his library, class room, watched movie in a theatre, done shopping and visited even the toilet. Such are the facilities that the people here are provided.

    Yes, the people who man our country are heartless and they shamelessly fight for the money providable chair. How can they ever understand the feelings of the millions of wheel chair bound citizens of the country? Disgusting.


  3. "Makes me feel that ours is a terrible country manned by a terrific people."

    You have summed it up aptly !