She hangs out in the college canteen, she attends friends’ weddings, she has 56 friends on Facebook and her favourite Bollywood actor is Hrithik Roshan. Akshika Aggarwal, 21, a final year student of Janki Devi Memorial College, has a life as remarkable as anyone else of her age, except that she is paralysed from waist below since birth.
With Delhi University announcing plans to make the campus more friendly for the physically disabled — by building ramps and elevators in colleges, introducing special buses and getting scanners to convert books into audio CDs — life could become much easier for such students. But how have been they coping till now? Here’s a look at a day in Akshika’s life.
The day for this BA Programmes student starts at 7 am in her second floor Karol Bagh apartment. Her mother helps her in dressing up. “I usually wear shirts and pants.
are not very comfortable,” she says. When ready, her father helps Akshika down to the ground floor. The college is a five-minute scooter ride away.
At the gate, a female attendant (Akshika calls her ‘Aunty
’), especially employed by the college for Akshika, helps her into a wheelchair and takes her to the class. The college authorities moved all the classes of Akshika’s course to the ground floor. “That was a very nice gesture,” she says. “But sometimes, I get this yearning to go to the college’s top floor and view things from there.”
In the class, Akshika usually sits in the front row, where the wheelchair fits easily. “The teachers are very supportive. Since my hand movements are very slow, I write very slowly. Sometimes, my classmates Xerox their notes for me,” she says.
During regular class hours, the female attendant frequently checks on Akshika, in case she needs to go to the washroom. During lecture breaks, Akshika accompanies classmates to the canteen, which has also been provided with a ramp built specially for her use. As the classes get over, Akshika’s attendant takes her to the gate, where her father waits for her.
What when the attendant is delayed and friends have left? “Someone or the other always appears.”
DU’s special arrangements
A special cell called the Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC) has been set up to help physically challenged students
SGTB Khalsa College has specially designed elevators and toilets
St Stephen’s College is in the process of setting up a separate room in its library with five computers installed with software for the visually impaired
To make walking safer for special students, a dedicated pathway is being constructed by the EOC on both sides of the roads in North Campus