Sunday, February 24, 2013

TOI Heart of Gold: Man of Infinite Ability

A new initiative from The Times of India in association with Britannia Good Day called Heart of Gold features stories of individuals who have made a difference to society and transformed lives with their acts of compassion and goodwill. These stories will inspire you to do your bit in spreading happiness and cheer to people around you. Here's the story of Coordinator of Enabling Unit, UCMS featured in this TOI initiative.

Man of Infinite Ability

Dr Satendra Singh, assistant professor of Physiology was entering into his room when he saw Poonam, a 5th semester medical student with locomotor disability, standing outside lecture theatre-I. This was the third instance in the past week. He called her into the room and enquired. She said, Sir, our clinical posting in the hospital ended at exactly 12 and the teacher except me toright here in the class at 12. Poonam is a bright student but she has to cross numerous barriers from hospital building to college building owing to polio. Her impairment was made disability because of attitudinal barriers of few faculty members

Dr Singh is the Coordinator of Enabling Unit for persons with disability at Delhi's University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital. Dr Singh immediately wrote to Principal and a circular was issued to exhibit leniency in case of students with disabilities. The Enabling Unit was founded by Dr Singh as per UGC guidelines and is a first in any medical college in India. Right after being appointed Coordinator, he appointed a honorary counselor for students with disabilities in 2011. 

Not only this, he constituted an 'Equality and Diversity Committee' where the members were from all walks (faculty, students, non-teaching staff). It was in line with the motto 'nothing foeus, without us' since all members are persons with disabilities including Dr Singh who is the Chairman. He also founded 'Infinite Ability' a disability subgroup working on medical humanities principles. The group organized 'Theatre of the Oppressed' and 'Blind with Camera' workshops (published in TOI) in 2011 and 2012. 

Dr Singh came to know about the steep ramp without side railing in boys hostel. He requested PWD and Medical Superintendent to do the needful but despite repeated reminders nothing happened for 7 months. Finally, for the sake of students, he protested by wearing a black armband on world disability day. The very next day, he got sanctioning of a large amount from MS office for renovation of all the hostels. 

Both the Post office and Canara Bank in the campus are on first floor without lift. He filed RTI's to know the accessibility of post offices and ATM's in Delhi. The results were shocking and were published in Times of India. The AGM of Canara Bank has now agreed to shift down to ground floor and Superintendent of Post Offices, East Delhi has written thrice to MS, GTBH to make it accessible to disabled persons. 

To address inaccessibility, he has written to Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, to instruct Medical Council of India to include mandatory 'accessibility audits' of hospitals during inspections. This will largely address the inaccessibility concerns and fulfill the social accountability of higher institutions as well. Dr Singh is a fresh voice in disability activism. 

Source: Times of India Heart of Gold


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