CHENNAI: Arihant Jain is like any other 10-year-old, who loves to play games, but sadly, there are not enough games adapted to his special needs. Arihant, a visually-challenged and hearing-impaired kid, if he is to experience the thrill of climbing a ladder in ‘Snakes and Ladders’, he needs to have a modified version of the popular board game.
“However, there are not many firms out there creating accessible products, at least in our country. There are very few service providers for persons with disabilities,” says Dipti Bhatia, Deputy Director of Vidya Sagar, an NGO advocating equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.
“The larger picture is that ‘accessibility’ is often seen as a matter of setting up ramps that facilitate physical access for persons with disabilities. By doing so, we forget the larger picture. Accessibility in all fields involves including education, leisure, communication and information as the right of every individual,” Dipti explains.
Taking up the initiative in this regard, Vidya Sagar on Saturday hosted ‘VaccesS’, an expo with the aim of connecting firms creating accessible products with diffabled users and also with the hope that more firms enter into manufacturing accessible products.
“Presently several adaptive products are designed indigenously at home. In doing so, the wider community of persons with disabilities is deprived of a useful product,” explains Dipti. Education is especially in need of such products. Says R Chitra, a special educator with Vidya Sagar, “Here we follow Samacheer Kalvi for students till class 8, but since there are not any resource materials available in the market to aid the teaching process, we are forced to make them ourselves.” (Samacheer Kalvi is the State programme to integrate the various school educational systems within the State). She hopes that special education schools in the State can emulate the example of a few of their counterparts in Assam and Meghalaya, who have tied up with private firms to facilitate teaching.
With several stalls put up at the expo showcasing adaptive products designed by students of various universities including those belonging to IIT Madras and Anna University, Dipti is optimistic that the next edition of ‘VaccesS’ will host more stakeholders, including corporates and officials, who have a significant role in ensuring access to various aspects. The expo is a two-day affair, at Vidya Sagar’s Kotturpuram premises and it concludes on Sunday.