Tamana Education Centre Empowering Children With Intellectual Or Developmental Disabilities

Accessibility for persons with intellectual disabilities, which probably represents the lesser known impairment, remains a challenge. NDTV visited Tamana Special Education Centre in New Delhi to understand the needs of people having an intellectual impairment and the possible workable solutions

Edited By: | December 4, 2023 हिन्दी में पढ़े

New Delhi: Accessibility issues are not confined to the physical constraints of mobility – such as the absence of ramps or lifts, and inaccessible doorways or toilets, disabilities can also be intellectual or developmental, and the accessibility issues faced by people with such disabilities are less visible and known.

Intellectual or developmental disabilities create limitations in cognitive functioning, social skills, and adaptive behaviour. This means that tasks that most people take for granted can be a massive challenge for these children.

Shalini Sharad, mother of Devanshee Srivastava, a child with intellectual disability, said,

“In the beginning, we had to teach her how to scoop daal properly. Otherwise, she used to dip it haphazardly. We also taught her to proportionately mix rice, daal, or curd, so it should not be left over.”

Also Read: Disability Rights Advocate Tiffany Brar Is On A Mission To Empower The Visually Impaired

Even seemingly small tasks for others, like fastening shoe laces, buttoning a shirt, or zipping up trousers or jeans, become a challenge and demand considerable effort from both parents and persons with intellectual disabilities. Tamana Special Education Centre in New Delhi teaches intellectually disabled children how to do daily chores from cutting and peeling vegetables to the occupational therapist teaching these children how to tie their shoelaces or pin a shirt.

Children at the Tamana Special Education Centre belong to different levels of the intellectual disability spectrum. Based on their learning capacity, they are taught functional life skills, multi-sensory activities, and academics.

Also Read: Why Accessibility Remains A Roadblock For People With Disabilities

People with intellectual disabilities struggle with communication and performing practical tasks. Better accessibility in homes, transportation, and public spaces, can be created using universal pictograms, clear signages with simple words, and secure, non-slip, well-lit staircases with handrails, amongst other solutions.

Prabha, Vice Principal, Tamana Special Education Centre, New Delhi, said,

“For instance, if a child does not know how to dress or brush their teeth or wash their face, we use functional cards with words and pictures. Similarly, if the child has to choose between a male or female restroom, we teach them sight words. We show the words to them with a picture, then we gradually remove the picture, leaving only the words for the child to learn.”

Accessibility and inclusivity are not just about physical access to buildings or services. For greater accessibility, awareness and empathy are foremost. Asha Bhatnagar, a woman in her 60s, brings her niece Ruhi to the school daily. She says the biggest barrier that her niece and people with intellectual disabilities face is a lack of acceptance from society.

Asha Bhatnagar, aunt of Ruhi, child with intellectual disability, said,

“She has echolalia, so she repeats. If she likes something somebody is saying, she will repeat it. People would ask me not to take her for a walk. I asked why not. She has an equal right to the walking space like you.”

The need of the hour is to break down the barriers and create greater accessibility for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, which requires addressing stigmas and perceptions. Because if we don’t see them, how will we accept them? And for that, we have to make space for them.

Also Read: Accessibility, Education, Employment: The Challenges Faced By People with Disabilities

About The Initiative

Samarth by Hyundai in partnership with NDTV, is an initiative that seeks to promote inclusivity, change perceptions, and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities.

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