There are more than 13 lakh people with disabilities in the State, and majority of them face problems due to non-availability of proper infrastructure facilitating accessibility
Crawling on her hands and navigating through encroached pavements, she boards a share autorickshaw to reach the nearby bus station from where she takes a bus to get to her office at HUDA Hermitage on Hill Fort Road everyday.
With the help of traffic police, she manages to cross the intersections and reaches her destination “effortlessly”. Armed with leather gloves, V. Sharada from Saroornagar takes up the adventurous task of getting into a bus to reach Hermitage building where works as Administration Assistant at the office of the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP).
A native of Mahbubnagar district, Ms. Sharada was transferred to the city two months ago and has ever since been living at Saroornagar. “Everyday, I carry three pairs of gloves to protect my hands from injuries while crawling,” she says.
Ms. Sharada, who pursues a PhD in Sociology from Osmania University, relies on her shoulders to navigate the urban jungle, while those with other disabilities restrict themselves to homes thanks to absence of infrastructure facilitating use of wheel-chairs and crutches.
Rules stipulate accessible atmosphere and transportation for persons with disability, but little is implemented on the ground. Most buildings have no ramp, a basic necessity for the disabled. The same goes for pavements.
“Most roads lack proper footpaths, or they are not continuous with breaks for ramps, parking and other obstructions. Where there is a decent stretch of footpath, there are no ramps or hand rails to get in or out for a wheel-chair. Naturally, I am forced to take the road, with vehicles whizzing by,” Sharada says.
When it rains, she has to be mindful about “clogged drains and uncovered manholes”, too. Footpaths with grooves and brightly coloured tiles for the visually impaired, too, are absent in the capital.
There are more than 13 lakh people with disabilities in the State, and majority of them face problems due to non-availability of proper infrastructure facilitating accessibility.
“Many disabled persons are unable to fulfil their dreams due to non-availability of proper accessibility and a barrier-free environment,” testifies P. Sudhakara Reddy, Director, SERP’s Inclusive Development for Persons with Disability.
“But, Ms. Sharada’s never-say-die attitude and commitment have set an example for others. She won’t even seek permission to leave office early,” adds Mr. Reddy, who himself uses a wheel-chair.