On a positive note

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On a positive note

Monday, 19 May 2014 | Trisha Mukherjee

On a positive note

No looking Back is the tale of Shivani Gupta’s life, how two accidents changed and motivated her to do something for the differently abled. The author spoke to Trisha Mukherjee

Stories of people who have risen beyond and overcome all odds have always been a source of inspiration. Such stories motivate and inspire when we feel low and dejected.

One such story is told by Shivani Gupta in her new book, No looking Back. An autobiography, the book is her life between two accidents.

Shivani met with an accident when she was 22 and was then confined to wheelchair. The problems faced by a differently abled and how the society turns hostile towards her, are poignantly narrated in the book.

It emphasises on how everything becomes inaccessible for the differently abled and how the opportunities gradually diminishes for them. The disability overshadows their capabilities, making survival extremely difficult.

“The society becomes intimidating. We become an object of pity. The society forgets that we might have met with an accident with fatal outcomes, but we are still the same person inside,” said the author.

After the disability hit her, a training programme at the United Nations made her continue as an accessibility consultant, a person who, the author explains, “helps employers become more disabled friendly.”

The second accident, in which Shivani lost her husband Vikas, took place in the year 2010, after which she decided to write a book. “I intended the book to be a love story, but people have ended up reading it as an inspirational book,” said Shivani.

When the society turned its back at Shivani, Vikas appeared as a ray of hope in 1997, and with time became her “best friend, lover, comrade and guide.” While others pitied and scoffed at her disability, Vikas was amazed by her courage and will to live and dream big.

After having pursued a course in inclusive environment, Shivani, who was agonised by the idea of inaccessibility that prevailed for the differently abled in India, decided to come up with AccessAbility. AccessAbility is an organisation that reiterates the simple motto: Access=Ability. Both Shivani and Vikas took the responsibility of becoming the voice of the people with disability, that mostly goes unnoticed. They wanted to make the society realise that it was as much a basic right of the differently abled as it was theirs, to be a part of the society and being treated like any other individual. They together looked forward to create a society in which “disability is looked at as a mainstream developmental issue rather than a charitable one.”

Vikas, who had become an indispensable part of Shivani’s life, succumbed to his injuries, after the accident in 2009, four months after the two got married.

As heart wrenching as it sounds, Shivani remained undeterred, and decided to live her life the way Vikas had wanted her to, inspiring every individual who at some point or the other had decided to give up.

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