Book on difficulties faced by disabled persons released
Accessibility to toilets is one of the biggest challenges: author
One of the biggest challenges a disabled person faces in life is accessibility to toilets, Madhavi Latha, para athlete and founder president of the Wheelchair Basketball Federation, said here on Tuesday.
“When I addressed a group of civil engineers, I asked them what they thought could be the most challenging task in my life. They remained quiet. Then, I told them how to use the toilet, because it is not accessible. I can barely enjoy it when I step out to attend events because I have to constantly worry about it. They need to think about disabled persons during construction,” she said.
During a discussion on her book, Swimming Against the Tide, with dancer and actor Swarnamalya Ganesh, Ms. Latha said engineering students should be assigned a project that would have them go around the city so that it gives them a glimpse of what needs to be changed so that disabled persons too can have access to this facility.
Ms. Ganesh said, as she read the book, she realised how at every point in her life, there was a recurrent question or dialogue around accessibility.
“She travels somewhere, and the hotel doesn’t have a room for her which was originally booked and after two days she couldn’t take a bath because there were no hand railings in the bathtub in this room. What seems like an innocuous little thing for us has played a huge role in her life,” she added.
For most people, water is essential, but for Ms. Latha, it turned into an elixir after she took to hydrotherapy, Ms. Ganesh said.
“I used to love water but I was kept away from it thinking it was dangerous. The more they used to keep me away from water, the more I started loving it. While I need a wheelchair to move around now, inside water, I can jump, walk and do yoga. I discovered the joy of freedom and want children with disabilities too to enjoy it,” Ms. Latha said.
There needs to be more awareness about hydrotherapy but children and parents have difficulty accessing pools in many places, she added.
Oliver Ballhatchet, British Deputy High Commissioner, received a copy of the book from Ms. Latha.
Janaka Pushpanathan, director, British Council South India, also spoke during the occasion.