Are colleges in Kerala disabled friendly?

Biju Paul in Sree Kerala Varma College : File Photo

Many colleges in Kerala reportedly lack proper facilities for students with physical disabilities. However, some colleges ensure that the campus is incredibly disabled-friendly. After Malayala Manorama published the picture of a student carrying a differently-abled classmate, down the stairs, the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities sent a notice to the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam. Meanwhile, Manorama did a tour of the colleges in the state to understand the state of facilities that have been arranged at the campuses for the differently-abled students.

As there aren’t any ramps for the buildings in the Dewaswom Board College in Kollam district, the disabled students have to rely on their friends and classmates to reach the classrooms on the upper floors.

Meanwhile, separate classrooms and washrooms are arranged in Pathanamthitta Catholicate College and in Mar Thoma College in Thiruvalla. Ramps have been built at most colleges in Alappuzha district, to make the buildings disabled-friendly. The authorities of the colleges in Kottayam too have ensured proper facilities for the disabled students.

St. Albert’s College and St.Theresa’s College, two major aided colleges in Kochi city have ramps and lifts. Meanwhile, the authorities at Maharajas College have arranged classrooms in the ground floor for batches where disabled students study. Ramps have been built to these classrooms, canteen and library.

Even though most colleges in Palakkad district have disabled-friendly classrooms, there aren’t separate washrooms for them. In many colleges, ramps do not reach all the floors in a building. But, Pattambi Government Sanskrit College and Indian Institute of Technology campus are disabled-friendly. At the IIT campus, there are lifts besides ramps and other facilities. In Palakkad Government Victoria, there are ramps and disabled-friendly washrooms. Meanwhile, Chittoor Government College, where 20 differently-abled students study, there aren’t separate washrooms for them even though there are ramps on the buildings.

In most new colleges in Malappuram, modern facilities like lifts have been arranged. However, most campuses in Kannur district are still not disabled friendly. Even though ramps and rails are built on the first floor, the students have to climb the stairs to the upper floors. These colleges often arrange classrooms on the ground floor whenever there is a physically disabled student in a batch.

In Kasargod Government college, a ramp has been built at the entrance area. However, there is only a staircase to reach the upper floors of the three-storey building. Meanwhile, ramp facilities have been arranged in Nehru Arts and Science College, Kanhangad and St. Pius X College in Rajapuram.

Meet Biju who made a ramp for himself
Thrissur: Biju Paul had been bedridden for almost a decade before he could move around in a wheelchair. He wasn’t ready to spend the rest of his life, sitting idle in the wheelchair. Biju, instead enrolled at various colleges in Thrissur to complete higher education. However, it wasn’t just books that he carried to college every day; he would carry a portable ramp too. When 40 year Biju joined Sree Kerala Varma College, his classroom was on the third floor. However, the college authorities moved the classroom to the ground floor for Biju. On the second day, Biju didn’t go alone to the college. He was accompanied by a carpenter who took the measurement and built a customised ramp for Biju. Seeing Biju’s difficulties, the college authorities built a ramp within 6 months. Meanwhile, he had to carry his own ramp when he went for a massage treatment at the government hospital in Chelakkara.

Biju then joined the government law college in Thrissur for LL.B course. There too, he didn’t forget to take his customised ramp. Now, the buildings in the law college have concrete ramps. The construction of the lift too is complete. After completing post-graduation, Biju is now looking for jobs. 

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