Day 4 of #MyAccess campaign took us to Paraplegic Foundation at Sion. The day kicked off with some marvelous performances by the students of the foundation. We followed it up with introductions and discussion on safe/unsafe spaces. Our participants included women with paraplegia from Paraplegic foundation and students from Sophia College.
Like the previous day’s safety walk, this one too was carried out in two groups, in each of which a girl on wheelchair (including one with clutches) was accompanied by two non-disabled girls. Starting from Paraplegic Foundation, the two groups walked in opposite sides of Sion Hospital flyover.
Participants reported the following issues in the area:
• Traffic jam and noise which made it tedious to cross the road
• Uneven roads caused barriers for movement of wheel-chairs and canes
• Construction and road digging blocked movement outside Sion hospital
• Speed-breakers were inaccessible for the wheel-chair users
• Ditches, potholes and raise manholes on the roads where wheels often got stuck
• Pavement was blocked with fruit vendors and construction activities
• No ramps on the pavement
• Open garbage that hindered their movement
• Street lights weren’t enough that reduced visibility of road
• Taxis and private cars parked next to pavement
At the de-briefing discussion, other points which emerged were:
• Taxis often not stopping for wheelchair participants easily
• Pain in arms from pushing the wheelchair’s wheels too hard to maneuver on rough roads
• With beer shops in the area, drunk men loitered in the night which made them feel unsafe
• While most of the disabled participants knew the area, many did not know the park nearby made especially for the persons with disabilities.
When a paraplegic participant said, “We need to make adjustments to get involved“. Nidhi Goyal from Point Of View took the discussion forward on accessibility being everyone’s right. She explained that we need to understand accessibility for all, for disabled to aged people and also the poor. She said we need to realize how ablest we have become in our thinking.
Emphasizing on the need to shift our perspective, Nidhi said,
“There is no us in them. We can become them at any moment. One accident, fracture or old age can make us disabled in that sense.”
At the end of the day when one of the disabled participant said, “This should happen every year. We really liked it!“, our day was made!