By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 4 Dec: Children with developmental disabilities from the Latika Roy Foundation met Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and other top officials here on Tuesday, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD). IDPWD is recognised by individuals, organisations and governments across the world as a day to raise awareness about disability rights, inclusion and accessibility. About 300 staff and students of the Foundation led a procession through Vasant Vihar, where its centres are based, and also organised a mela. The Accessible India Campaign of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment recognises that universal accessibility is critical to enable disabled citizens to gain access to equal opportunities, live independently, and participate fully in all aspects of life. However, the situation on the ground presents many challenges, such as the difficulties that parents of disabled children seeking Aadhar and Disability Certificates face. Many are discouraged by the process of going from counter to counter, waiting in long queues, or taking children who use mobility aids over uneven ground or stairs. Similarly, the mainstream curriculum, paucity of teachers trained to include disabled children, and inaccessible buildings exclude millions of disabled children from education. This sets into motion a vicious cycle that makes them ineligible for jobs, and keeps them trapped in a life of poverty and marginalisation throughout their lives. The time and resources required to care for a disabled child or relative also impact other family members. The purpose of the events at the Foundation on IDPWD was to celebrate differences, in the belief that diversity contributes perspectives and talents that benefit everyone. It was also an opportunity for the students to get out en masse, be seen and heard. One reason for the stigma and misunderstandings about disability is that disabled people are rarely seen in public spaces, because these are almost always inaccessible. Over the past few years, with the increasing use of social media, the voices of disabled activists and civil society organisations have been amplified to the extent that the courts have passed several favourable judgements in cases of discrimination against disabled individuals.