The Delhi University may consider itself disable-friendly, but the South Campus has proved to be insensitive to the needs of these students.
Last week, Kanika Saxena, a Delhi University aspirant, had a tough time while appearing for Bachelor of Business Study (BBS) interview and group discussion at the department of business economics at South Campus.
Wheelchair-bound, Saxena had to be carried to the first floor for the interview as the building did not have a ramp for the physically disabled. “The department should have organised the interview on the ground floor. It was humiliating. The university should create a barrier-free environment for people with disabilities,” said Saxena.
Several differently abled students have many similar stories to tell.
Saxena’s mother Archana was left fuming after the incident. “The apathy towards the problem is apparent from the fact that the university is still not universally accessible — colleges, departments, libraries and hostels/guesthouses lack basic facilities such as ramps, way-finding signages, adequate lighting and accessible toilets,” she said.
“This incident was really unfortunate. We are sensitive towards the needs of differently abled students,” said Nisha Singh, member, equal opportunity cell, Delhi University. Assuring that such an incident won't happen again, she said, “We’ll be writing to the colleges that did not have ramp and will ask them to conduct interviews and entrance exams on the ground floor so that it does not become a hassle for disabled students. Also, ramps and lifts should come up in these colleges as soon as possible.”
And as far as DU being disabled-friendly is concerned, the absence of ramps, lifts, Braille books and special software for visually disabled students is enough to convince one otherwise. Tactile paving and warning blocks are also missing. While classrooms in most colleges are now easily accessible to all students, spaces like canteens, common rooms and laboratories still remain out of reach in most colleges, especially those off-campus.
“The struggle for disabled students starts right from the admission process and continues till the end of their college. UGC provides meagre funds to colleges. With such an amount, you can't make any big changes,” said Anjlee Aggarwal, Executive Director, Samarthyam-National Centre for Accessible Environment.
And till then, students like Saxena will continue to tell stories of apathy and insensitivity of the Delhi University.