Making educational institutions inclusive for all - My Take by Ketna Mehta
I am very optimistic about life. And certain actions in our society give me enough reason to continue being an optimistic!
I was heart warmed when I read a full-page advertisement in the India Today Aspire magazine. The Vivekanand Education Society's College of Law had the following highlights at the bottom of their advertisement:
Sprawling campus with playground and railing ramps,
Lifts for physically challenged,
Zero waste campus,
CCTV cameras and security guards for safety,
High tech libraries.
This brought a broad smile to my face. In February 2016, the college principal, Jayashree Phadnis, had invited me to speak at their national conference where the topic was - "Evolving as a Smart College- Concepts, Opportunities and Challenges."
My talk was on "Inclusive smart campus: Design for All". I explained the need for Universal Design Principles for a barrier free campus. It included training, physical spaces and Technology.
What the VES advertisement mentions are minimum accessibility features, like wheelchairs. There needs to be a holistic approach. Washroom, libraries, classrooms, auditoriums, cafeteria, sports and games, gyms, computer labs, yoga centre and each and every activity have to be made inclusive.
The latest Rio Paralympics win by Deepa Malik obtaining shows that there is gold in each one of us. Equal opportunities and inclusivity can bring awards to our country besides offering a life of dignity for friends with disabilities.
Do our educational institution leaders have their ear to the ground?
About the Writer
Dr Ketna L. Mehta is founder trustee of Nina Foundation, an NGO for the rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injuries.