March 29, 2019
In 2017, participants of the event National Convention of Youth with
Disabilities (NCYD) identified that not even one percent of
educational institutions are disabled friendly or accessible. Now, in 2019,
the situation is not any different in most educational campuses across India.
Disabled students still struggle to get special quotas and scholarships.
The government of Kerala, however, has always been progressive when it comes
to providing accessibility features in colleges.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 clearly states that all
buildings must be made accessible for people with disabilities. So does the
Accessible India Campaign. The RPWD Act, 2016 also
highlights the importance of providing equal rights to disabled students in
campuses. Colleges in Kerala are abiding by the law to a large extent when
compared to their counterparts.
Biju Paul is a wheelchair user from Thrissur in Kerala. Paul
is currently pursuing his post-graduation in Malayalam from the
Kerala Varma College, one of the most renowned colleges in
the state. Paul became paralysed after a road accident when he was 23 years
old. At the age of 42, he decided to pursue his studies.
I could not complete my education after my accident because of mobility
issues. I was also worried about many other factors like how my classmates
and teachers would view me because of my disability, will my disability
affect others and I was also worried about transport difficulties to get to
college. But once I joined this college, I realised that not everyone has
the same attitudes towards disabilities. I have a great support system in
college. My classroom was in the third floor, and it has been changed to
the first floor for me. They introduced wheelchair ramps and exclusive
parking spaces for me. –Biju Paul, Student
Paul points out that one of the biggest challenges faced by disabled people
is accessing transport facilities.
“The government does not provide any facilities for disabled people. Even
in public transport, there are hardly any exclusive features for a disabled
person. Some people have their own vehicles. But people like me cannot afford
it. I drive my own auto with a hand brake to get to college. But all this is
worth it when you complete your course and get a certificate. I feel the
government must do something about this”, says Paul.
Subaida PM is a visually impaired person who recently
completed her masters in English from a college in Wayanad. She said she
received a lot of support “The best thing about my college is that my
friends and teachers were very supportive. I did not have any difficulties in
even finding a scribe. I think I’am quite lucky to get this kind of
Not everyone is as lucky. Lack of disabled-friendly washrooms and even
inaccessible buildings can become a nightmare for disabled students. Disabled
students point out that providing exclusive scholarships and quotas alone
won’t really help them. Accessible buildings where students can comfortably
move around is important. For that, NGOs, medical officers and government
officials must join hands and work on what is best for students with all
kinds of disabilities.
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