International Purple Festival Goa 2024
Image Description : From left - logo of International Purple Festival Goa 2024. On Right - Images of deafblind adults having fun at beach using floating wheelchair and Shrutilata carrying floating wheelchair

  The Journey of Colour Purple: Not Just a Colour but a Community -
  From Exclusion to Celebration

"Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you're needed by someone." - Martina Navratilova

For centuries, individuals with disabilities have faced numerous challenges, battling exclusion from various aspects of society. In domains such as education, healthcare, socialization, communication, and entertainment, most of the disabled community has long grappled with limited access and opportunities. To recognize the abilities of individuals, they require both opportunities and an accessible environment. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities miss out on these opportunities as well as accessible environment.


Deafblind Adults haviong fun with floating wheel chair during purple festival in Goa

The disability movement and inclusion

The global disability movement did succeed in having December 3rd recognized as International Day for Person with Disability - A day to celebrate the uniqueness of disabled community. But it wasn’t until January 2023 that a unique festival emerged that celebrates disability. As Kathy Martinez put it, “Inclusion is not a word, but a path to walk together”.

Emergence of Purple Festival

In January 2023, the Goa State government launched the Purple Festival in Panjim, bringing people with disabilities from across the nation together to celebrate their abilities. Collaborating with various organizations, including Sense International India, the Goa State Disability Commission organized diverse events. As an attendee, this festival offered me a unique and previously unheard-of experience.

Goa, which is a hot spot for not only Indian but global tourism had set an example by its effort to make the state as accessible as possible. This festival was the inception to bringing more into it.

Power of Purple

While we know that the colour Purple holds its significance for the community of persons with disability, most of the participants were curious about what would be awaiting them at the festival. And their curiosity turned into two days of excitement, joy and amazement!

First of its kind festival attracted thousands of volunteers to make this festival a huge success. Guide support and sign language interpreters were an integral part as they ran around making sure everyone was able to access the platform.

Different groups of people with disability did live performance in dance, stand up comedy, music concert. Others explored the exhibitions, live panel discussions, car rally, bird watching. Lots of exciting activities kept all the participants engaged.

As I explored the exhibition stalls with help of my interpreter, I realized the world is so full of possibilities. Each health condition leading to disability actually has solution through technology for their independence and participation. Sadly the information hardly appears in mainstream advertisements.

Shrutilata carrying floating wheel chair

As I explored further, I was reminded of past discussion with one of my colleagues about having information on accessibility in smart phone and other digital devices available in advertisement. This could help many People with Disability decide on which one to opt for. And here we were, exploring it at each stall which offered solutions to different issues for people with disability.

My favourite memory of the festival is of the accessible beach where I watched Rahul, a youngster with Deafblindness exploring the beach for the first time in his life. As he moved slowly towards the waves that washed his feet, his face glowed with a bright smile.

Other participants with severe locomotor disability were also able to explore the beach with support of modified wheelchair that could be wheeled on sand and float on water. It seemed like a long-awaited dream of many finally coming true.

And the cruise ride was another fun part. Everyone with disability and those who accompanied them dancing and enjoying all the way. All around you could see happy faces.

Accessible Entertainment

One standout aspect was a fully accessible entertainment with screening of movie “Drisyam 2” with voice over for visually impaired and an Indian Sign Language Interpreter interpreting each and every dialogue. Just imagine people with different types of disability sitting together in a theatre and accessing the movie!

Some people especially Deafblind do need one to one interpretation support to access the movie. My colleague was also helping me by interpreting the movie.

The festival demonstrated the need for and benefits of inclusive entertainment, contrasting with the current lack of accessibility in mainstream media. As Richard Attenborough himself states -Entertainment is a right for all, not a privilege for a few.

Is accessibility costly or is it an investment?

There's a misconception that accessibility comes with high costs. However, a deeper look reveals that accessibility is an investment in the capital, as emphasized by Debra Ruh, the founder of Ruh Global Impact. Accessibility increases income by broadening access for more people.

Anticipating the upcoming purple festival

As Goa is again set to welcome everyone for International purple festival from 8th to 13th January 2024 and we are anticipating much more excitement than last year. As an ambassador for People with Deafblindness and multiple disability for this upcoming festival, I excitedly look forward to participating and ensuring all voices are heard and promoting equal opportunity for all.

Blending to unite

The success of the previous year's festival demonstrated that when people with and without disabilities come together, remarkable things can happen. The Purple Festival is a colourful symbol representing unity, illustrating that we are different threads, but when blended, we create a strong, supportive community where everyone belongs. Schools, colleges, government offices, corporates, and others should take note of the example set by the Purple Festival, embodying Helen Keller's words: "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." We hope to see you all there next year!

Written By :Shrutilata Singh, Sr. Specialist - Network Support,Sense International India

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