While her parents struggled for months to admit her in a regular school, they finally managed to do so after agreeing to arrange for a special tutor themselves and pay for the teacher’s fees.
Stating that most institutions are not disabled friendly, Smitha Sadasivan, member of Disability Rights Alliance (DRA), who works for the inclusion of these children, said, “There is already a solution under the Rights for Persons with Disabilities Act 2016. If all the provisions of the Act under Education are fulfilled, then there would be no issue at all. In fact, separate facilities for special education would not even be required.”
“After continuous pleas by Sridevi’s parents, the school granted her admission, but requested she be sent back post lunch as they would be unable to monitor her. During the lunchbreak, she is secluded from her classmates, making it even more difficult for her,” Smitha stated, adding that most persons with disabilities go through the same dilemma.
According to the new disability law, any college being planned must make provisions for the disabled. “The issue is that despite the existence of such laws, not many institutes will comply. Statistics revealed by a forum for disabled students shows that not even 1 per cent of India’s 789 universities, 37,204 colleges and 11,443 stand-alone higher education institutions are disabled-friendly,” said a Disabled Rights’ Activist in the city.
“The lack of necessary infrastructure for the physically challenged such as ramps, railings and accessible wash rooms has found to be one of the main reasons why children with disabilities refrain from pursuing their studies. There is the absence of trained staff and alternative teaching aides and facilities like specialised books and material in Braille,” he added.
Stating that most government schools, especially in rural areas, lack basic toilet facilities, educationist Dr S Somasundaram said, “It affects every student, more so the disabled. The Government should ensure that approval is not given to institutions that lack the basic facilities, especially for the disabled. Why should their education be compromised just because of their disability?”
While many are wheelchair bound after a spinal injury due to an accident or so, they too tend to suffer as they lose control of their bladder and are unable to walk.
“The children are still intellectually sound. However, accessibility continues to remain an issue. They are capable to perform, but limitations are there. It is unfair as the officials tend to think that these children are incapable of being normal,” stated Gnana Bharathi, president of the Spinal Injured Persons’ Association (SIPA), urging the government to make efforts to support these children.