With 'Get Going', Chennai NGO Vidya Sagar aims to get disabled people out & about
Key to enabling independent living and mobility for people with disabilities is building robust support systems. Accessible public transport, which is a major part of this, remains a major gap in Indian cities, Chennai being no exception.
Recognizing this, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), one of India's largest multinational companies, has donated two wheelchair-friendly vehicles to the NGO Vidya Sagar, which reaches out to people with disabilities.
This is part of a project called Get Going started by Vidya Sagar to enable people with varying disabilities and needs to actually be up and about, and feel empowered to travel when they need to, without having to worry about how they will get there and who will take them.
The transport will make travel for disabled people easier and will be available to people with intellectual as well as physical disabilities. Each vehicle comes fitted with hydraulic lifts that can accommodate up to three wheelchairs with four additional seats. The vehicle is designed in such a way that it can accommodate more seats if the number of wheelchairs is less.
L&T's has a longstanding collaboration with Vidya Sagar dating back to nearly 20 years. "The association started through infrastructure support of the school at Kottupuram campus", said S N Subrahmanyan, CEO - Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro. Today, L&T is involved in sponsoring the education of 40 students in Vidya Sagar's middle school. Of this, 10 have sensory needs associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder, while nine other students have severe cognitive and physical disabilities.
Vidya Sagar works with persons with disabilities and their families and offers a range of services that support all age groups across their lifespan. This includes people with varying special needs. While their focus has been on people with developmental disabilities, their core strength lies in building capacities, where people think none exist.
We live in an interdependent world requiring supports for different aspects of our lives, as do people with disabilities whose needs for supports may be different from what is available in the mainstream. Transport is one such area. It is almost impossible for wheelchair users to use public transport and although the Metro has been made wheelchairs accessible, last mile accessibility remains a huge issue. Such people are therefore stuck at home unable to take up a job or pursue any activity outside their homes. Through this project that we have named 'Get Going' we aim to address this issue. - Poonam Natarajan, Founder, Vidya Sagar
The upside of the project, Natarajan asserts, is that it is replicable and scalable. 'Get Going', the accessible transport, will hit the roads today at 10 AM. The venue is 1 Ranjith Road, Kotturpuram.
The USP of this service is that its safe, accessible and supported and every effort is being taken to ensure that all three goals are met, with the drivers of these vehicles being given specialized training to be able to understand and meet the range of support needs.