APD conducted a sensitisation event at Cambridge Institute of Technology, Bangalore on March 19, 2019. The event was attended by 120-150 students from the MBA and CIT departments as well as a few staff members. The students were educated on different forms of disabilities, Indian Sign Language and the experience of being in a wheelchair.
Why is sensitisation important?
APD conducts sensitisation events in urban and rural areas of Karnataka to enable the development of an eco-system that “includes” specially-abled people as a norm. The events aim to replace pity with empathy, optimism and inspiration.
The human spirit is resilient, and individuals show remarkable strength and tenacity when facing challenges beyond their control. The sessions showcase this spirit and educate the public on how they can support those who are differently-abled.
Inclusion can happen only when every member of society believes in equal rights and opportunities for all irrespective of physical or mental state, gender, race, age or community.
The team from APD was invited to conduct a session on Disability Awareness by Let’s Tag On, a blended, online-offline platform for youth to experience the joy of contributing to social development while honing their skills.
As is often the case, the students had very little knowledge of disability or how to interact with those with any form of disability. Many students were hesitant to participate in the activities initially. However, as the purpose of the session became better understood, the students were more forthcoming.
The following activities were conducted:
- Wheelchair sensitisation: Using a wheelchair helps people understand the psychological and physical efforts required by a person to move around and conduct everyday activities while in a chair. Many students acknowledged the effort required, a realisation that never struck their minds before.
- Indian Sign Language basic training: Students were explained the importance of Sign Language and its role in enabling communication with those who have a speech or hearing impairment. The students were taught alphabets using the Indian Sign Language (ISL). They were asked to spell their names using ISL. The sign language was picked up easily and the students showed interest in learning to communicate with ISL.
The sensitization event was effective in driving the importance of an empathetic mindset for people who are differently-abled. It busted many perceptions and stereotypes. In fact, a clear shift in perception was observed towards the end of the session, as compared to the start.
There was a sense of respect and acceptance for people with disability, not just within the institution but also among the communities of the students. The feeling of “sympathy” had been successfully eradicated, replaced by a sense of responsibility and support.
Sensitisation events are critical to developing an inclusive system and citizenry that understands and supports those with abilities different from their own. If you wish to sensitise people at your institute, office, school or college, please get in touch with Joyce at email@example.com.