Chennai

Accessibility initiatives, campaigns mark Disability Day

Differently-abled children at Marina beach.

Differently-abled children at Marina beach.   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

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Temporary pathway for wheelchairs laid down at Marina

C. Nagamanjari eagerly waits for her annual trip to Marina beach. On Tuesday morning, she couldn’t stop smiling as her feet hit the sand and the waves.

To mark World Disability Day, the beach was made accessible to the disabled with a temporary pathway, laid from the service lane opposite Queen Mary’s College, for wheelchairs. This is the fourth year that the Corporation has facilitated this, and has worked with Disability Rights Alliance (DRA) and Vidya Sagar, for the same.

“An outing to the beach is a big deal for us as a family, and since the shore cannot be accessed simply with a wheelchair on the other days, my daughter looks forward to this annual initiative,” said C. Anandhi, Nagamanjari’s mother.

Several parents of children with disabilities, like her, have been hoping for a permanent accessible pathway on the beach for a few years, and feel it will enable frequent outings, as a family, for them. Students from Vidya Sagar, who made a trip to the beach on Tuesday morning, were thrilled to be near the waves. In addition to the pathway, the Greater Chennai Corporation procured four beach wheelchairs this year, which can be used by the disabled on the sand, in the absence of an accessible pathway.

An inclusive walk at Elliot’s beach.

An inclusive walk at Elliot’s beach.   | Photo Credit: M. Karunakaran

 

Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash said they were working towards ensuring that the beach is accessible throughout the year for the disabled. “The beach wheelchairs used today were imported at a high cost. As a next step, we are looking to initiate and design such vehicles through our Mechanical Department, and make these available for public use,” he said. The Corporation is also open to suggestions on design from researchers on the same, he added.

The accessible walkway and beach wheelchairs will be available for the next one week.

Smitha Sadasivam, a member of DRA, said they had appealed to the Corporation Commissioner to submit a proposal through the Parivesh portal for a permanent accessible walkway on the beach.

At Elliot’s beach, 300 children, including 150 with special needs, took part in a two-hour inclusive walking initiative on Tuesday, organised by the Nandavanam Centre for Excellence for Children with Development Challenges (a CSR unit of Newgen Knowledge works pvt Ltd). Volunteers, including college students, helped carry the physically challenged children to the beach.

The programme began with children holding placards listing benefits of beach walking. They then walked barefoot on the sand, for close to 20 minutes, led by a parai band from Pulianthope. Schoolchildren held on to the hands of the differently-abled children.

“Walking on the beach has immense benefits, especially for children with disabilities. We have been making children with special needs in our school walk on the beach for the past five years, and have seen improvements in their speech, movement and other abilities,” said Preetha Srinivasan, managing trustee of Nadavanam.

Students from the Government High School for the hearing impaired, Salem, were treated to a special flying experience, and 36 students travelled by the Trujet Airlines, from Salem to Chennai. For all of them, this was a first-time experience.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 8:14:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/accessibility-initiatives-campaigns-mark-disability-day/article30153513.ece

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