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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Modern society waking up to people with disabilities

Mumbai: Sandip Soparkar, a well-known ballroom dancer, recently choreographed a special Latin dance show for deaf and mute youngsters titled The World of Silence.

The youngsters, aged from 16-24, rehearsed without music, catching on to his every move. Soparkar said he understood dance in a way he had never done and thought silence was beautiful.

"This is just one instance where modern society is waking up to the presence of people with disabilities," said Kavita Shanbag, who has been associated with children with special needs and their rehabilitation for the last 13 years.

"People's awareness is indeed increasing but we have a long road ahead," she told on World Disability Day.

"What is heartening is people's appreciation of the abilities in them as well as a lot of support, especially from the media."


Her personal experience - finding herself with epilepsy during pregnancy and her newborn child having learning difficulties - was a harrowing one when she ran from pillar to post for information, guidance and remedial treatment.

It also led her to start a website in 2001 called which focuses on children with special needs, their abilities, integration and rehabilitation.

The idea was triggered by an interaction with Komal, a visually impaired telephone operator working with the Reserve Bank of India.

Komal said: "Public apathy and indifference towards persons with a handicap is harder to accept than the actual handicap.

"Visually impaired persons like me have small expectations like being told the bus number at the bus stop so that we can board it. Yet, it doesn't always happen and we have to wait hours till some empathetic soul comes along."

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