HT SPOTLIGHT: Making society more inclusive for differently abled persons

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Right from buying groceries to doing daily household chores and practising social distancing, the coronavirus-led lockdown has been challenging for these people.

While the lockdown is considered an effective move to contain the deadly coronavirus, it has left thousands of people with disabilities in the lurch. COVID-19 has been disruptive to all families, but the effects of school closures, medical equipment shortages and social distancing are further amplified for families of children with disabilities

Shyama Chona, Founder-President of Tamana Association, says, “The lockdown has been disturbing for all and more for specially abled kids. These kids looked forward to meeting their friends and they had a fixed routine which they are now missing out on.”

At this juncture, it is important that we as a society help out these individuals. Gulfam Ahmad, Wheelchair model, says, “ This is the time, where differently abled people are bound to feel lonely and isolated. We are gifted individuals so we should take this opportunity to pursue a hobby. Simple activities like painting or stitching can be taken up, which will help in elevating stress and also keep the mind agile. “

Shyama emphasises on the importance of building or having a routine. She says, “ It is imperative for these differently abled individuals to follow a set pattern of dressing up in the morning and then helping their parents in household work. Good motivational movies should be shown to these individuals as in front of a TV screen or a computer screen, these individuals don’t feel threatened and enjoy their ‘me’ time and they are the best source of entertainment.”

Care-givers and parents should not let these individuals ever feel alone. Teachers, health care providers, families, and friends can help by allowing disabled people as much practical and emotional leeway as possible to cope. Chona adds, “ They should be encouraged to communicate with their friends, teachers and colleagues via audio-visual mediums, and voice their thoughts and issues.”

As a society, we can help a lot just being aware and sensitive to the specific risks and obstacles faced by disabled people in an outbreak of contagious illness like COVID-19. Diksha Chhabra, Wellness Expert, says, “ All of us need to take a compassionate stand for these persons with disabilities. If you know someone in your locality or neighbourhood, do keep a check on them regarding their health, medical supplies and mental state. And as Chona puts it, “ You are different but you are still special.”

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