Making the Kala Madhyam Arts Mela
While the Kala Madhyam Arts Mela was undoubtedly a fantastic initiative, we who were there along with Nagaraj, who is wheelchair bound, could not help but notice that accessibility for people with disabilities way grossly overlooked. With steps leading to a major part of the stalls, including the little amphitheater that held the cultural events, Nagaraj, could only access the lower stalls, which surrounded the Chitra Kala Parishad building.
Those with speech and hearing impairment would probably have benefited if there were little information boards, which mentioned the State from where the artisans came and the brochures if prominently displayed would have elaborated for further details. Of course the visually impaired would have been in need of an escort considering the venue was really crowded and a Braille brochure would have worked wonders for them.
Many of these issues, such as ramps for wheelchair users and information boards for the hearing impaired would have benefited not just people with disabilities but others like senior citizens, and saved people like me from repeating the same questions again and again. All these things could have been addressed with a little bit of management and better organization and so it’s surprisingly, very do-able. I’m sure organizations like Mobility India, the Association of People with Disability, Action Aid, Mithra Jyothi, and the 40 odd organizations in Bangalore working on disability would have been glad to advise and assist on this front.
In a scenario where people with disabilities are trying to mainstream their concerns into the larger Peoples Movements and where they are aggressively lobbing with the Government for Rights, being left out of an initiative organized by a fellow non-governmental organization, which is expected to be sensitive, is in bad taste.
On the other hand, being part of the disability movement, the lack of ‘accessibility’ at the Kala Madhyam Arts Mela only goes to highlight the fact that much work still needs to be done, and it is only when civil society organizations and non-governmental organization are sensitized to the issues of disability that the Disability Sector will get the required support and broad base itself.
Pictures by Jasmine Nongrum