As we travel across India doing workshops on Inclusive Tourism for the travel and hospitality we are privieged to eet up with Indian pioneers like Anjlee Agarwal, Javed Abidi, and Shivani Gupta all quoted is the current issue of India Today magazine:
"India's attitude has been: No Census, no statistics, no problem," says Javed Abidi, a wheelchair-user and a major voice for people with disability.
A study stint in the US showed him how much more fulfilling life can be for people like him. He came back and started raising uncomfortable questions: "How many of us are there? Why are we kept out of the Census?"
After a long battle, the Government finally yielded and Census 2001 put the figure at 2.13 per cent of India's population. But Abidi, who heads the National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People, finds the figures debatable.
A World Bank report, People with Disabilities in India, claimed last year that for every 100 there are about eight disabled people in India. "If you don't see them that's because the system doesn't allow them to be visible," he says.
... Shivani Gupta
became a wheelchair-user after a car accident at the age of 22, on the eve of leaving for higher studies in the UK. Over the years, struggling with the everyday challenges of taking her life forward, she has grasped the harsh reality:
The nation might be on a construction boom but easy access to buildings continues to be overlooked. "Builders install ramps, but in absence of guidelines, those are often all wrong," she says.
"We don't have any official guidelines on proper gradient, flooring, lighting, design, symbols and signage that make a place accessible." It was this exasperation that led her to set up AccessAbility, a firm that specialises in barrier-free design and employment solutions for the disabled.