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For physically challenged, it's a long search

Very few colleges in the city are equipped to deal with physically challenged students.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2008 14:27 IST
Abhinav Dayal

He scored 83 per cent in his SSC exams, but unlike other students with similar marks, Ayush Srinivasan does not have many options.
A student of Swami Vivekanand High School from Chembur, Srinivasan suffers from cerebral palsy. He intends to pursue Commerce in the same school.

"Ayush needs to be carried from one room to another. Even though the school does not have ramps or elevators, I am very comfortable with the physical and emotional support he receives here," said father S. Srinivasan, who gave up work for nine months to help his son prepare for the exams. "He uses a special table and chair and the school arranges for a fellow student to do all his writing for him."

Very few colleges in the city are equipped to deal with physically challenged students. While abroad, every educational institution has mandatory facilities like ramps, separate toilets and resource centres, Mumbai is far behind.

Despite its building being more than 100 years old, St Xavier's College, Fort, has facilities for the physically challenged. "There are several ramps starting at the college entrance right through campus," said Father Frazer Mascarenhas, principal. "There are two special toilets for the physically challenged."

The college had 25 differently abled students last year. Vile Parle's Sathaye College has installed a ramp near the elevator for wheelchair-bound students and has special toilets as well.

Principal Kirti Narain of Churchgate's Jai Hind College said ramps were not required "since we have elevators all over". She added, "Most of the activity is on the ground floor. We are also very considerate toward handicapped students and our professors serve as mentors to them."

However, accessibility is just one aspect, said Sudha Balachandra, director, National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped. "Only about 12 per cent of city colleges are accessible (to the physically handicapped). Once ramps, elevators and special toilets are arranged, colleges need to focus on upgrading laboratories, accessible libraries for the visually challenged and widening of corridors."