Accessibility October 21, 2020
Ph.D. student’s complaint about inaccessible toilet meets with shocking response
On Monday Newz Hook had reported on the ordeal Ph.D. student Meera Menon experienced due to the lack of an accessible toilet at the Kochi centre of the Indira Gandhi National Open University. The response she has received highlights the extent of apathy and indifference people with disabilities in India battle every day.
No apology, not even a note of sympathy. Instead this is what Meera Menon, the Ph.D. student who complained about the lack of an accessible toilet at her exam centre in Kochi has received on email:
“It is informed that the toilet facility for the differently abled (for learners) is available in the ground floor the new block. It is also shared that the new block is at floor level and the differently abled do not have to use the ramp to access the toilet facility”
Accessible toilets given no priority
This response from Dr J S Dorothy, Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Kochi is to Meera’s ordeal of taking a three-hour exam soaked in her urine . Why? Because the toilet in her designated exam centre at IGNOU Kochi was not accessible.
I am happy that they took the time out to respond. But having a toilet in another building is not the solution. This means they expect me to go to another building to use the toilet! The irony is that none of the staff there told me about this new accessible toilet either. And how can I go to another block just before starting the exam? They allowed me in at 1.50 PM for a 2 PM paper. – Meera Menon, Ph.D. student
Meera has Spina Bifida or split spine, a condition that makes it hard for her to walk. She also has limited control over toilet motions.
Response shows official apathy
“Expecting someone with my condition or for that matter anyone with a locomotor disability to walk to another block to use the toilet and come back is just not done. The response does not even have a sorry for what I faced. It was just a notice kind of reply”.
Meera has shared her experience on social media and has written to higher level authorities in the state. This response has stunned many.
“When someone decides to speak up, if this is the response from an authority it is very disappointing”, says Seema Lal, Co-founder of TogtherWeCan, a prominent parent support group in Kerala. “Even if she was expected to go to another building which is bad enough, why didn’t any of the staff members guide her? This is insult to injury. I hope higher authorities will take cognisance and do the needful at the earliest ”
Meera is clear that she will not back down from pursuing the matter. When asked if she plans to persist with the issue, her answer was “Yes, definitely!”
- Ph.D student undergoes embarrassing ordeal due to lack of accessible toilet at IGNOU Kochi exam centre
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