Specially-enable

India has a staggering 21 million people suffering from disabilities—both physical and mental. This comprises 2.1 per cent of the entire population. Yet, how often do we encounter people with different abilities in our everyday life? This is not because these numbers are false, it is in fact because the disabled in our country are doomed to live a life shunned in abnormality where they are bereft of conducting even the most mundane everyday activities. The 1995 Disability Act had fixed a quota for enrolling a minimum of three per cent students with physical and mental inefficiencies across academic disciplines. Studies show that 32 of India's top universities and institutes of higher learning have used only 16 per cent of the minimum quota, resulting in disabled students occupying only 0.48 per cent of the total student population. This is a crisis. And, this can be solely attributed to the fact that we live in a society that is not conducive to people who face the harrowing everyday task of coping despite facing obstacles in using their bodily and mental senses optimally. Besides mental barriers that prevent people from wholeheartedly accepting the disabled, or more appropriately the 'specially-abled', into their everyday social circles, we are also facing a dearth of infrastructure that suits the tailored requirements for people battling deficiencies. Very few public spaces have ramps for the visually impaired, wheel-chair friendly zones are limited, our unruly traffic does not assist the ones who are unable to navigate themselves and of course, our social consciousness has prevented the complete integration of our society. Despite quotas being available for the handicapped, the peripheral system that is required to embolden their access is still numbered. They are shunned to a life of loneliness in the margins of society where their engagement with people is limited to their immediate family and medical assistance. Often, born to poor families, the disabled are left on the roadside to fend a life by begging. The condition is truly abysmal. Miranda College in Delhi had set a precedent by beginning an app that would assist the visually impaired to navigate through the campus by using accessible QR codes. This is a bright step in the right direction that has motivated people with deficiencies to come out of their shelved lives and participate in mainstream society. Educational institutes are spaces that instil correct ethics and values. More institutes in the country must make their campuses disabled-friendly to ensure equality in our society. It is a curse to be born with physical limitations, however, by providing the correct infrastructure and facilities to those with deficiencies, we as a society can uplift them from this pitiful condition that has been bestowed upon them for no fault of their own. We must become more sensitive to the specially-abled, understand their needs and together, create a society that turns their baneful life into a living boon.