The notion that people with disabilities do not positively contribute to society is a toxic myth
The world -- especially Bangladeshi society -- can be quite unkind to people with physical disabilities.
Any actual limitations that people with disabilities may have are, sadly, multiplied through social stigma, and negative attitudes; many still perceive people with disabilities as a burden, and unproductive.
But the notion that people with disabilities do not positively contribute to society is a toxic myth that needs to be shattered -- some of the most talented, inventive, and dynamic people in our country have some disability or other, and to shut them out of the conversation, or exclude them from facilities will be to our own detriment.
Developed countries around the world have long understood that infrastructural development needs to be inclusive; and this means transportation services, buildings, government facilities, airports, hospitals, roads, and footpaths, all should take into consideration the needs of those who lack the privilege of being able-bodied.
A laudable step was taken recently at the Dhaka University premises, where in a session about disability and transportation, several participants, many with disabilities, brought up the various issues regarding public transportation that need to be addressed; for example, people with disabilities are often prevented from getting on public buses, and the excuse given by bus operators is that there is no room to accommodate them.
Even though the government has passed a law mandating seats with individuals with special needs, implementation is a far cry, and seems to be very low on the list of priorities for the BRTC.
As a society, we need to do much better than this, and we need to become much more inclusive than we are right now -- and that starts with a concerted effort from the government to make the country’s infrastructure more disability-friendly, and through rules and regulations that uphold the dignity of not just the able-bodied, but all human beings.