Help at Home, for Disabled & Elderly
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05 May 2010
By Neha Pushkarna
Devices designed to make life easy for people with disabilities on display at a new resource centre in Hauz Khas
Life for disabled people can get much simpler if they take a cue from a special resource centre that has come up in Hauz Khas. Sambhav, as it is called, offers a collection of assistive devices ranging from basic sturdy knee caps, magnifying sheet, talking thermometer, special spoons to sophisticated tools like a wardrobe that can be pulled down, braille typewriters and digital magnifiers.
Set up by the National Trust under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the centre has been designed like a well–furnished house where people can walk in to find out about various tools, specially designed keeping in mind the need and requirements of people with disabilities. Though the centre does not sell these goods, it does provide details about where to buy a particular item and at what price. Ministry officials claim this is for the first time that such a centre has been opened in India.
The centre has been put in place in collaboration with NGO Action for Ability Development & Inclusion (AADI) and Saarthak, an organization focusing on mental health. It displays assistive devices for education, recreation, independent movement, kitchen work, toilet use and dining. There are movement devices like special soles for flat foot, gaiter for those with stiff knees, educational devices like braille geometry sets, self–care products like a toothbrush that can be fitted on a finger – ideal for those who do not have a strong grip.
The brushes, spoons, ladles have been fitted with bicycle handles to make their handle thicker for a firm grip. For the same purpose, there’s a glove with a soap pouch fitted on it which can be bought for around Rs 50. For those, who cannot control their motor movements, the centre displays plates with magnets underneath. It can be kept on a metallic sheet on the dining table and it won’t move while a person eats from it. There are also spoons with a strap to tie around the palm and detachable straw holders that can assist in for drinking.
“The centre has nearly 150 products, each designed to help those with disabilities carry out their daily tasks with ease. Many HGOs and individuals have made effort to make life easier for people with disabilities and created various tools. But there is no catalogue for these devices. At the centre, we have tried to find out all such devices and display them to those who need them,” said Atul Prasad, joint secretary, ministry of social justice and empowerment.“It’s a pilot project. We will open more such centres in other states.”
It took the trust nearly two years to collect the devices from across the country and abroad. The centre is based on the principle of universal design, that is, even those without any disability can use the devices normally.“We have made simple modifications like the handles of the doors and cupboards are horizontal and not vertical. This makes them more suitable to those suffering from stroke or muscular dystrophy. The shelf of the kitchen is only as high as a wheelchair, the sink is not so deep and the tap has been installed on the side and can be operated with just one finger,” said Rohit Chaudhry, project manager, AADI.
“We have assured these devices are aesthetically appealing. They should not have a shoddy design just because they are meant for people with disabilities and serve special purposes. In fact, many of these devices can be used by the elderly,” added Rohit.
Javed Abidi, director, National Centre For Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, said setting up of this centre is a step in the right direction.“It’s just a beginning. More differently–abled people are working today and can afford such devices. The government now should make sure that these devices are available in the market.”