Mike Nemesvary was a world champion in skiing. At the age of 24, he became a quadriplegic paralysed below the head, when he was practicing his routine workout on a trampoline. He says that all those who are running around today are Temporarily Abled (TABs). Any second that gift can be taken away from them through a freak accident, illness or even old age. At 15, he wanted to be the world's best freestyle skier. Now his goal is to drive around the world (which he does in a specially modified vehicle) in order to raise awareness and funding for spinal cord research. The accident broke his spine but not his spirit.
On World Disability Day, we need to look at the abilities of the disabled and make our cities and homes disability-friendly. Indian cities, towns and villages are notoriously insensitive to the needs of the disabled. Education and computers have made them independent, but they still feel demoralised that they cannot climb stairs, cross the street, or even use public transport without help. So many parks are guarded by revolving or narrow iron gates to keep out stray animals and the disabled.
Work tables at Universities are not accessible and taxi drivers do not want to take wheelchairs. We plan our homes as though we will always remain 35.
The disabled deserve a life. There is a great need in India for modified cycles, cars and even wheelchairs. The Jaipur foot is an innovative prosthetic for barefoot Indians.
India offered a romantic gesture to the disabled by building nine ramps at various points in the Taj Mahal complex. A few wheelchairs are also available. But our country needs much more to be done to tap the potential of the differentlyabled. Lead the movement in your community, while you are still able to.
Rekha Shetty is the author of Innovate Happily and Innovation Secrets Of Indian CEOs...