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After showers, disabled find themselves on slippery ground

After showers, disabled find themselves on slippery ground

CHENNAI: C Karthik found it particularly hard to commute to work on Friday when rain battered the city. The 29-year-old wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy patient had to be helped into an auto by his parents. "Once I reached office my colleagues had to hold me," he said.

Many like Karthik find the already disabled-unfriendly city more daunting during the monsoon. While several of them stay at home to avoid risks, those who cannot avoid work struggle.

Health issues are a concern for people like Smitha Sadasivan who has multiple sclerosis. On Saturday, which remained dry, Sadasivan ditched her motorized wheelchair and walked to work. "I use a wheelchair so that I don't get tired or my knees don't start aching but I can't use it during rain because I can't see potholes," said the member of the Disability Rights Alliance. "Whether I am on a wheelchair or on foot, I can only move slowly and today the road was slippery. I had terrible itching since I had to walk through puddles and sewage mixed with rainwater. The road infrastructure has never helped us but officials should at least remove the water immediately," she said.

TMN Deepak, the founder of the December 3 movement, a rights-based organization for the disabled, remained cooped up indoors as he learned things the hard way. A year ago, on his way to work, he fell down in front of the Vijaynagar bus stand in Velachery and his three-wheeled scooter fell on him. "There are no brakes for the sidewheels and my vehicle overturned when it got into a ditch," he said.

"Some of us are lucky that we can work from home or take leaves but for many with visual impairment and orthopedic disabilities it is dangerous stepping out of their homes," he said.

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