“Why should people think of themselves as a person with a disability? Why can’t we talk about ourselves just as a person, without focusing on the disability?” was a question raised by Krishna while attending the “Tea with dignitaries” program conducted at Pallium India on December 3rd, 2022, International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This opened questions and comments from the group. They shared how they were reminded of their disability every moment in life, either by the attitude of society or by the infrastructure (or the lack thereof).
Tea with Dignitaries was attended by about ten people living with disabilities and more than 15 people in various capacities who are interested and committed to create an inclusive world. The discussion was moderated by Mr Radhakrishnan CV, MD of River Valley Technologies, who uses a wheelchair for mobility.
Challenges shared by the group included lack of rehabilitation, lack of opportunities for education and livelihood, discrimination from the society etc. Every individual has a right to live with dignity as a contributing citizen. And the society has a responsibility to create an environment which is friendly and enabling meaningful engagement for people with disabilities.
We already have a law in our country (Rights of Persons with Disabilities [RPwD] Act of 2016), but there is a long way to go towards implementation of the law. Hence, it was decided to stay together as a group to facilitate this.
The same morning, Pallium India conducted a get-together at Disabled-Friendly Sensory Park, Museum, Thiruvananthapuram, that was inaugurated by Adv. V. K. Prasanth, MLA. This was an opportunity for people who are otherwise confined to the four walls to come out, sing, dance and share happiness.