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Podcast centres around teenagers with disabilities

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SHILLONG, April 12: In a recent thought-provoking episode of Adolescents Unfiltered, a multimedia podcast launched by the Health department, focus was laid on the unique challenges and experiences faced by teenagers with disabilities.
Leading the discussion was Rosa Wahlang, a highly experienced Consultant in Disability and Education, specialising in deaf/blindness for the past 18 years.
She was joined by two more individuals, who shared personal experiences of either living with disabilities or supporting disabled teenagers.
One of the guests, Ishailin Nongspung, a visually impaired young woman, is currently pursuing her 6th semester at Shillong College. Ishailin had lost her eyesight at three years old, and despite multiple treatment efforts, her condition remained unchanged.
She expressed her gratitude towards a compassionate individual, who helped her secure admission to Bethany Society, where she lived in a hostel. Ishailin also spoke about the emotional impact of insensitive comments made about her condition.
Another guest, James Kharkrang, a single parent to his 16-year-old deaf daughter, shared his journey as both a mother and father to her.
His daughter excels academically in a school located in Shillong.
Kharkrang stressed the significance of love and support while discussing the challenges parents face in ensuring their disabled children have access to education, sometimes resulting in keeping them at home.
Furthermore, the conversation delved into the Persons with Disabilities Act, which identifies 21 types of disabilities, including physical, sensory, and neurological or intellectual disabilities.
Wahlang then shed light on the fact that the cognitive levels of certain disabled 16-year-olds might equate to those of much younger children, exacerbating challenges, particularly when combined with poverty.
The episode then brought attention to often-overlooked topics like puberty and sexuality in adolescents with disabilities.
To this, Wahlang highlighted the lack of parental engagement on these matters, leaving adolescents with disabilities without proper guidance on navigating these changes, along with their emotional and psychological ramifications.
Moreover, infrastructural obstacles faced by individuals with disabilities, such as inaccessible roads, vendor-occupied footpaths, and transportation challenges, were also covered in the episode.
These hurdles often compel disabled individuals to heavily rely on others for mobility and access to education.

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