About 2.2 per cent of the total population in India are suffering from one or the other kind of disability, with a majority of them residing in rural areas, according to a 2018 survey.
While achieving the goals in terms of taking adequate measures to build disabled-friendly infrastructure is debatable on a national level, a district in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is leading the way with identifying the concerns of such individuals, devising solutions, and testing them through a pilot project.
Virudhunagar district has launched an initiative to equip the houses of disabled persons with accessible toilets. Collector J Meghanatha Reddy has been leading the 'Udhyam' initiative to ensure persons with disabilities are provided with basic facilities in their homes.
Backstory Of Building Disabled-Friendly Toilets
A meeting was conducted at the collectorate on July 6. The deputy collector (training) met Pandiselvi, a person with a physical disability, who shared her ordeal of not having an accessible toilet. She had to crawl into the washroom at her house to use it.
This prompted the authorities to begin the change at home—by building disabled-friendly toilets at the houses of such individuals. As per reports, in less than two months, at least five toilets have been set up and another five are in progress.
"The toilets have a ramp, a western commode, a hand faucet, and railings so that the person need not seek anyone's help at all. Further, the toilets are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair's movements," Thilagavathi, DRDA Project Director told The New Indian Express.
Collector Reddy said that the scheme aims to cover over 100 people in the coming days. He shared that a sustainable and cost-effective toilet was built with an investment of around ₹ 30,000 to ₹ 35,000. Hence, they are planning to pool resources from corporates and other government programs.
Solving Challenges Of Community
Officials involved in the project were made aware of the problems faced by persons with disabilities which included seeking support from a family member to use a toilet.
"There are instances of them being sexually abused even by their family members. When they go outside to use community toilets or open spaces, they face ridicule and threats," said one of the officials.