Accessibility December 28, 2020
Urgent need for society to be more sensitive towards accessibility- Guest Column by Unni Maxx
Unni Maxx, a disability rights advocate from Kerala has been vocal about issues pertaining to accessibility in the state. An ardent traveller, Unni in our guest column this week talks about a heart-touching gesture of his closed one. He highlights why society needs to take up accessibility serioiusly.
Steps are the biggest obstacles for a wheelchair user, especially while traveling to unfamiliar places. People invite us to their homes, apartments or buildings that are inaccessible for a wheelchair user. The many number of stairs in these spaces often holds us back from getting inside the premises. But people are ready to take us inside though we are forced to say a ‘no’ merely because we do not want all that trouble of being taken inside. The truth is that not only do you feel tired when you see the steps, but you just do not want to step inside. This happens for every celebration including wedding of your loved ones.
A heart-touching gesture
Travelling is passion to me. Kozhikode in Kerala is one of my favorite destinations, a place with lot of beautiful memories and loved ones too. When I had to go on a trip to Kozhikode last week, the first thing that came to my mind was the new house of my closed ones Mohan and Lathika whom I lovingly call Mohanettan and Lathikoppol.
Their previous flat was on the second floor, and hence I never had a chance to go there. Their children Appu and Ardra used to tell me that they would set up a ramp in their proposed new house, but it was a real surprise when they sent me the ramp photo a few months ago! Even Though I am not a regular visitor, they actually set up a ramp. In fact, that was not just for me, but other elderly people who come to visit the house too. Accessibility can become pivotal to people at some point, so let us build accessibility for all together is what they said. I couldn wait to make a visit to their new home, but due to Covid pandemic, the trip got delayed for a few months. So finally, last week I visited them. I could enter their newly built beautiful house through the ramp which was installed in the front- left side. It was a great feeling, and I cannot express it in words.
Unlike other foreign countries, installing ramps in places is not something that we find here in India. Wheelchairs are not allowed everywhere in public places, buildings or cinema halls etc. Don’t you think the need to understand inclusion of disabled people in mainstream society is need of the hour? If your answer is a yes, then my request to every person planning on building a home as well as builders would be to highlight on accessibility There are many people around us who have mobility issues due to many reasons and for some due to old age. Building a ramp a little further along the steps would make life simple for many.
The truth is that despite a lot many changes, Kerala has not yet done anything for its disabled community. You feel this when you travel across the state. The family that thought about constructing a ramp when building their new home has given the community a solid insight into care and compassion for fellow humans. This is a much needed, but not considered at all issue in the society. When I mentioned this on social media, I saw a lot of people reacting positively. I hope our society will embrace this great message.
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