The mothers of children with special needs have stressed the need for building disability inclusive institutions across the country in order to secure equal rights for people with disabilities.
They also called upon the authorities concerned to ensure proper accessibility for differently able people so that they can reach desired goods, services, activities and destinations.
A group of women came up with the demands while holding a meeting to finalise the formation of a committee that will work for protecting the rights of special children as well their mothers.
During the meeting, most of the mothers said the learning environment at normal schools is not inclusive at all. The lack of disability-friendly WASH facilities, teaching tools, and transportation systems in the schools have been creating barriers for their children in availing proper education.
One Tanjila Barsha, mother of a special kid, said: "I think the main challenge of inclusive education is the attitude. As a mother of a special child, I often face challenges while availing the facilities that were allocated to these kids. Nowadays, I don't visit any government institution for continuous misbehavior by the officials."
"Although, they are disabled, our children are not burdens to the society. They can do better if they get equal facilities. So, I want people to change their mindset towards the special children," she added.
Maharani, Habiba, Shahina, and Lucky said they want financial support from the government in bringing up their kids.
Noting that the cost of raising a child with special needs is relatively higher than bringing up other children of the same family, they said but the monthly government allowance scheme for these children is not good enough for them.
Moreover, the process of avail the allowance is too difficult and most of the mothers in both rural and urban areas don't know details about those facilities allocated for their children, they added.
Mentioning that proper physiotherapy can improve the quality of life of the special kids and reduce the severity of disability, and make them able to function like a normal person, Marzina and Baishakhi said family members of many kids don't know about the advantages of taking physiotherapy as this treatment is not available in most of the government and NGO-run hospitals and health centres in rural areas.
Arranging regular physiotherapy for the kids is expensive and many families cannot afford it. Only a few parents can manage proper treatment for their children as it costs a handsome amount which is beyond the capacity of many families.
They called upon the government to install a special physiotherapy and consultancy centre at every community clinics in villages and unions and ensure the treatment of their children free of cost.
One Nasreen said: "I always think: What will happen to my kid after my death? Who will take care of him? Sometimes I cannot sleep at night, imagining his miserable condition after my death."
"I urge the government to set up a rehabilitation centre where people with disabilities can be shifted after the death of their parents," she added.
The writer of the report, also the mother of a special child, said: "Usually the society, as well as the parents, do not hold any expectation from their special kids. And most of them are not interested in their education. So, the schools don't have any special arrangement for such kids.
"Only seven to eight percent schools have the facilities for children while only 12-15 percent institutions have ramps which can be considered a very poor situation. We have done very little for the children who are suffering from disabilities. So, we must address this issue seriously."
More than 30 mothers along with their kids attended the meeting on Tuesday in Savar.
The platform is set to announce their 10-member committee, which will work for protecting the rights of the special kids and their mothers, by the end of this month.