Whenever any physically fit human sees a person on a wheelchair especially a young one…the immediate question that comes in their mind is what must have happened to them ? Although it okay to think about this yet it is wrong to go and ask them or their family about the same. As I am a wheelchair user myself I know how such questions seem like adding insult to injury.
Wheelchair users both young and old have to go through a lot in India. India not being wheelchair friendly is their topmost problem. Most of the restaurants, parks or any public place isn’t made keeping in mind about the accessibility issue. In some of the places even though there are ramps yet they aren’t really that useful. Most of the times ramps are so inclined that it would be more of a menace to use it.
To explain my point better I’ll narrate a incident. I was on a vacation with my family in Mumbai. We decided to go to a water park near Mumbai. There they had various theme parks and also a water park. We decided to go to the water park and two of the theme parks. There what we encountered is that in one of the buildings we had to go (which was a attraction in one of the theme parks) there were only stairs. There was NO RAMPS. In such a popular water park where thousands of people come every year there wasn’t any ramp.
Another issue which I have come upon very frequently is the lack of separate washrooms for us. Literally so many times I have seen no separate washrooms in public spaces for wheelchair users. Also a lot of times what happen is that physically fit humans are seen to be using these washrooms just for saving their time. These infrastructural issues aren’t the only problem.
What’s more disheartening to see is that people don’t accept us as humans. As I have lived normal life like most of you, I used to go to public places like Malls, Theatres etc. There was literally not a single time when people didn’t used to stare at me. It was still bearable to see young kids laughing, joking and pointing out at me as they are merely kids but there’s no excuse for the fully grown adults doing it. I mean how can some people be so inhuman? Adults coming and asking me or my parents what has happened to me? Why she’s on wheelchair? Have you taken her to a doctor ? And so many other irritating questions. I mean honestly tell me who wants to see their child on a wheelchair? I guess no parents. While some of the people ask such questions with a certain politeness other bluntly ask them like they know us for years(it was sarcastic comment by the way)
What we want in the society is acceptance. Treating us as any individual is what we want. See us outside the boundaries of our wheelchairs. We too can be fun, talkative, creative etc but hardly some people put efforts to know us !
When every human is made by one God and we are all his children Who are you to discriminate among us dear some people?