Barrier-free living or lifestyle is still a far-fetched dream striving towards providing equal opportunities for the disabled which only a few handful of NGOs like the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled are undertaking. It is the crux of creating an inclusive society with an equal shot at education and job opportunities which are otherwise inaccessible due to the physical limitations of the individuals with special needs. Such initiatives not only make it easier for the differently-abled persons to showcase their talents but also plays a vital role in boosting their morale and self-esteem. The demolition of the social barrier where the differently-abled are not stigmatized starts with a barrier-free environment in educational institutions, major firms, and organizations.
Breaking barriers with barrier-free ambiance
An inclusive-society is made possible with initiatives that support barrier-free ambiance starting with the simplest of adaptations like bars on the walls to aid the individuals with special needs for enhanced support to ease their movement which in turn will reduce the walking time. In fact, the Indian government has been forthcoming in creating a barrier-free environment by transforming 25 to 50% of the most popular government offices into disability-friendly zones. As a part of ‘Sugamya Bharath Abhiyan,’ a nationwide campaign supporting persons with disability (PwDs), an ‘Inclusiveness and Accessibility Index’ was prepared which aids the corporate sector to evaluate their workplace concerning accessibility for PwDs. The index aims at promoting social cohesion providing an equal opportunity for persons with disabilities to explore their potential and also to establish a dignified stand in the community.
“Persons with Disability Act and the Right to Education Act” clearly indicates that all children irrespective of their physical limitations or special needs have the right towards education accessible at regular schools with or without provisions for barrier-free ambiance. Except for children with learning disabilities (intellectually-disabled), regular schools must encourage inclusive education which is a mix or a social set-up where the regular and the disabled children blend alike. And with the schools opting for a barrier-free environment with the specially designed campus, will change the perception of the children and in turn the society by encouraging them to have a sensitized approach to the special needs of children with disabilities.
An exemplary barrier-free residential school in the making
Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled is currently working on a cutting-edge disability-friendly residential school which is under construction. The upcoming school is housed in an area of 48,000 Square feet government allotted land in HSR Layout, Bangalore. The key features of the building include complete accessibility to address the special needs of all disabilities, ultramodern infrastructure with accessible assistive technology, an auditorium with meditation hall, yoga center, gymnasium, and therapy rooms along with hostel facility for boys.
Features of Samarthanam Residential School:
- A 100% disabled-friendly school with the state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities.
- It will cater to more than 700 students with disabilities and those from underprivileged backgrounds.
- Special facilities include a meditation hall, recreation facilities, yoga, gymnasium, computer lab, etc.
- It houses spacious classrooms with fully-equipped teaching and learning
- It has an improved physical environment – lighting and paint schemes to help students with visual impairments.
- Lifts and ramps to help students with mobility challenges.
- Signboards to help students with hearing impairments.
- Teaching and learning materials made available in accessible formats.
- Provision of Assistive Technology like Interactive keyboards, screen reading software, etc.
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