Senior citizens are particularly at risk

Senior citizens often have a natural difficulty in getting acclimatised to a new place. Sometimes, extrinsic factors make the process more difficult. Ask 77-year-old P.S. Subrahmanian, who moved to Teachers Colony in Royapettah recently.  

“Pits have been dug up near the entrance to the colony and on V.M Street nearby. There are no signboards to warn pedestrians,” he says.  

Mr. Subrahmanian has a reason to be concerned. For seniors, trenches and uneven road surfaces, resulting from development works by civic agencies, are not just an inconvenience. They are also a severe risk.  

“At our forums, our members raise the issue of how unfriendly our roads are to seniors. When a road is dug up for civic work, is any special consideration shown to residents of an old age home? No. Seniors cannot – and should not – miss their daily walks. Therefore, the civic agency should arrange for a vehicle to take the seniors (in an old age home) to a park – or any other place – where they walk every day,” says Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder-president, Dignity Foundation. 

People who are mobility compromised, including those with physical disabilities, also suffer considerably from “insensitive” development work. Smitha Sadasivan, member of Disability Rights Alliance (DRA), believes accessibility provisions should be integrated into every civic work, keeping this section in mind.  

“When a civic agency undertakes any work on a street, it has to operate on the assumption that each house has at least one person with disability. Special provisions have to be created for people to move about safely and easily, in spite of the work. This is reasonable, considering anyone can suffer temporary disability – say, due to a fracture,” says Ms. Sadasivan.  

Shankar Subbiah, accessibility consultant and a member of DRA, adds “Why blame only the civic agencies? We are generally insensitive to the problems of the disabled. Encroachments on pavements by individuals and commercial establishments are as much of a hindrance as trenches.”  

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 3:58:57 AM |

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