Disability is part of the human life. It is a global concern. Almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life, and those who survive to old age will experience increasing difficulties in functioning.
Who are reading this right now, many of them may be familiar with these names ; P V Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Deepa karmakar but irony is that very few amongst them may be familiar with these names ; Mariyappan Thangavelu, Devendra Jhajharia, Deepa Malik, Varun Bhati. It shows our ignorance towards people with disabilities.
More than one billion =100 crores people in the world live with some form of disability, of whom nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning. According to India’s Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act (1995), a person with a disability is anyone who suffers at least 40 percent impairment from a medical issue such as blindness, low vision, leprosy, hearing problems, locomotor disability, mental retardation or mental illness.
Globally people with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is partly because people with disabilities experience barriers in accessing services that many of us have long taken for granted, including health, education, employment, and transport as well as information.
In the year 2006 United Nations adopted Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Its aims are to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”. India signed and ratified it in may 2008. It reflects the major shift in global understanding and responses towards disability. We, people of India must have to understand this issue and help to improve the lives of people with disabilities and facilitate the implementation of the CRPD.
INDIA – SCENARIO (CENSUS 2011 DATA)
Proportion of Disabled state-wise
Percentage of Disabled Population to Total Population
2.51 & above 1.76 – 2.00
2.26 – 2.50 1.75 & below
2.01 – 2.25
Rationale for giving these much details is to create awareness in people regarding situation of country`s disabled population, to identify barriers faced by people with disabilities in their daily life, steps to be taken to overcome that barriers and to include them in mainstream for sustainable development. Achievements of people with disabilities in summer Paralympics, which I mentioned in starting are following :
- Lack of accessibility
Built environments (including public accommodations), transport systems and information are often inaccessible. Lack of access to transport is a frequent reason for a person with a disability being discouraged from seeking work or prevented from accessing health care.
It is a key for drop-outs from school. Even in countries with laws on accessibility, compliance in public buildings is often very low. The communication needs of people with disabilities are often unmet. Information is frequently unavailable in accessible formats, and some people with disabilities are unable to access basic information and communication technologies such as telephones and television.
- Lack of consultation and involvement
Often people with disabilities are excluded from decision-making in matters directly affecting their lives.
- Lack of data and evidence
A lack of rigorous and comparable data on disability and evidence on programmes that work often impedes understanding and action.
- Inadequate policies and standards
Policy design does not always take into account the needs of people with disabilities, or existing policies and standards are not enforced. Examples include a lack of clear policy of inclusive education, a lack of enforceable access standards in physical environments, and the low priority accorded to rehabilitation.
- Negative attitudes
Beliefs and prejudices constitute barriers when health-care workers cannot see past the disability, teachers do not see the value In teaching children with disabilities, employers discriminate against people with disabilities, and family members have low expectations of their relatives with disabilities.
- Lack of provision of services
People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to deficiencies in services such as health care, rehabilitation, or support and assistance.
- Problems with service delivery
Issues such as poor coordination among services, inadequate staffing, staff competencies, and training affect the quality and adequacy of services for persons with disabilities.
- Inadequate funding
Resources allocated to implementing policies and plans are often inadequate. Strategy papers on poverty reduction, for instance, may mention disability but without considering funding.
Steps taken to overcome barriers :-
Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) has launched Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) as a nation-wide Campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). It has the following three important components :
Part A: Built Environment Accessibility
Part B: Transportation System Accessibility
Part C: Information and Communication Eco-System Accessibility
Our public buildings should have such kind of facilities for persons with disabilities in near future.
Sugamya Pustakalaya is a collaborative effort of several organizations to end the book famine faced by people with print disabilities. Users can access a collection of over 2, 30,000 books, maintain their individual reading shelves online and also download books in chosen formats.
The Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill, 2014
RPD Bill has been introduced in Rajya Sabha. We have seen a number of discussions and debates on the GST Bill, but there are no discussions or debates on the RPD Bill. It has 117 clauses and 17 chapters covering almost each and every aspect like Equality and non-discrimination, Community life, Protection from cruelty and inhuman treatment, Protection from abuse, violence and exploitation, Home and family, Reproductive rights, Accessibility in voting, Access to justice, Legal capacity, Provision for guardianship, Specific measures to promote and facilitate inclusive education, Social security, Health care, Insurance schemes, Rehabilitation, Research and development, Culture and recreation, Sporting activities etc.
- Enable access to all mainstream policies, systems and services
- Invest in specific programmes and services for people with disabilities
- Increase public awareness and understanding of disability
- Improve human resource capacity
- Involve people with disabilities
- Improve disability data collection
- Strengthen and support research on disability
- Adopt a national disability strategy and plan of action
- Provide adequate funding and improve affordability
- Sesame phone
It is world’s first completely touch-free smart phone.
How does it work ??
- Audio facility on EVMs
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) may be enabled by the use of braille stickers, but all blind persons in India do not use braille, and this is also not useful for India’s large population of persons with low vision. These persons would be greatly benefitted by an audio facility on EVMs, which could be accessed by headphones. This would also benefit the illiterate as well.
- New software
Software such as JAWS (Job Access With Speech) enable those with visual disabilities to read text content that is presented on computer screens, using a braille display or speech synthesizer. Screen readers are an excellent means for improving computer literacy and for allowing greater access to the resources that are available online. Moreover, screen readers allow users to improve their communication skills through the use of email, instant messaging, social networking, and blogging. Screen readers are also popular among blind musicians who use audio editing software to pursue their passion of recording, editing, and distributing their work.
NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) screen reader is an alternative to JAWS that is usually preferred by users due to the fact that it can be downloaded free of charge. NVDA has capabilities to support web browsers, email, instant messaging, and Microsoft Office programs such as Word and Excel. However, a major drawback of NVDA is that technical support for it is very limited.
- Role of Media/Celebrities/Leaders/Preachers
Amidst the ongoing efforts being taken by citizens towards making the future more accessible for the disabled, the media will have to take greater responsibility. The media alone can raise the level of sensitivity among the masses and take our society towards becoming a more inclusive one.
Similarly celebrities, leaders, preachers are essential part in mass mobilization. Govt.should think on this also.
Accessibility is about giving equal access to everyone. Without being able to access the facilities and services found in the communities, persons with disabilities will never be fully included. So we need integrated approach of all Central Government Departments/Ministries and State Governments to make “accessible police stations”, “accessible hospitals”, “accessible tourism” and “accessible digital India”.
All major campaigns like Skill India, Digital India, Make in India, Start-up India, Stand-up India should be integrated for empowerment of persons with disabilities & there should be specific section in all policies because inclusion matters.
Government merely couldn’t do this. We, people must have to contribute something for betterment of these persons. With policies, citizen initiatives, technological progress, and popular media coming together, the challenges of access, acceptance, and inclusion will get addressed. Until this is done, a major part of our population — 2.7 crore citizens — will continue to live in economic, social, and physical vulnerability.
Concluded with this famous quote
“Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.”
― Stephen Hawking
Image Courtsey:- Deepa Malik, indiatimes.com