Published on: November 21, 2020

One in every four households in India does not have a toilet, putting people at increased risk of exposure to infectious diseases. When nondisabled people find it difficult to access toilets, what happens to people with disability who constitute a sizable 2.2% of the country’s population?

Universal access to public spaces remains a challenge for people who suffer from physical, sensorial, and intellectual disability. Toilets are one of the most important basic amenities that a public space should have on offer for people visiting it.

On this year’s World Toilet Day, 19th November, Pallium India joined hands with ‘Toilet Tales‘ of ‘Recyclebin‘ and ‘Sahridaya‘ to conduct a social experiment to raise public awareness about access to disabled-friendly restrooms.

Conducted at four locations in Thiruvananthapuram, members of the public were offered wheelchairs by the organisers and encouraged to enter the toilet with it. Participants expressed their solidarity to the cause of access to disabled-friendly restrooms and also expressed that the activity gave them an opportunity to experience first-hand the difficulties faced by wheelchair users while climbing ramp, opening doors and using hand rail.

This social experiment throws light on the fact that we have a long way to go to make public spaces universally accessible. Society must realise that universal accessibility is a right and not an act of charity.

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