As a disabled person inhabiting a world designed for the able-bodied, one learns to put up with a lot of indignities that others would consider unacceptable.
These include: the everyday pain of being excluded from a whole host of normal life activities, and the challenge of having to constantly find ways of living with equal productivity and dignity as others which the able-bodied often simply do not have to think about.
Fundamental issues for Differently abled people:
In general, some incidents vividly bring to light two fundamental issues that prevent the disabled from leading lives of equal dignity and productivity:
- An exclusionary mindset and the inability to recognise the disabled as rights-bearing citizens,
- Entitled to demand fair and equal treatment from every service provider, public or private.
Vulnerable Differently abled group: Worst-hit group:
As is the case with most crises, the COVID-19 pandemic has had its worst impact on marginalised communities.
For instance, students with disabilities have found it extremely difficult to access remote learning through digital platforms.
The UNESCO’s 2019 State of the Education Report of India acknowledges that inclusive education is complex to implement and requires a fine understanding of the diverse needs of children and their families across different contexts.
India has made considerable progress in terms of putting in place a robust legal framework and a range of programmes that have improved enrolment rates of children with disabilities in schools.
However, further measures are needed to ensure quality education for every child to achieve the targets of Agenda 2030, and more specifically, the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goal 4.
Continuous discrimination all over world towards differently abled people:
- Based on recent estimates, over a billion people worldwide are impacted by disability and the stigma surrounding it.
- The stigma attached to persons with disabilities, compounded by a lack of understanding of their rights, makes it difficult for them to attain their valued “functioning’s”, which Amartya Sen defined as capabilities deemed essential for human development.
- Furthermore, women and girls with disabilities are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual and other forms of gender-based violence.
- About 80% of the estimated one billion persons with disabilities worldwide live in developing countries.
- The International Labour Organization, using data from the latest national Census (2011), reports that 6% of persons living with disabilities in India are outside the labour force.
- Those with mental disabilities, women with disabilities and those in rural areas are the most neglected.
- According to the World Health Organization, nearly 15% of the world’s population has some or the other form of disability, making disabled people the largest global minority.
- Continuous discrimination denies them equal access to education, employment, healthcare and other opportunities.
- Essentially, what we are looking at is an enormous reservoir of untapped resources excluded from the workforce.
Conventions and Legislations regarding their protection:
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD):
- The convention seeks to engage member countries in developing and carrying out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in the Convention and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination.
- It requires countries to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers and ensure that persons with disabilities can access their environment, transportation, public facilities and services, and information and communications technologies.
- It asks member countries to recognize the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection which includes public housing, services and assistance for disability-related needs, as well as assistance with disability-related expenses in case of poverty.
Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016:
- Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 fulfils the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which India is a signatory.
- It aims to uphold the dignity of every Person with Disability (PwD) in society and prevent any form of discrimination.
- The act also facilitates full acceptance of people with disability and ensures full participation and inclusion of such persons in the society.
- This Act defines PwD as any person with long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which on interacting with barriers hinder effective and equal growth in the society.
- Accessible India Campaign: Creation of Accessible Environment for PwDs:
- A nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society.
Way Forward to eliminate discrimination:
Preventive health programs need to be strengthened and all children need to be screened at a young age.
Proper implementation of schemes should be ensured. There should be proper monitoring mechanisms and accountability of public funds.
People with disabilities need to be better integrated into society by overcoming stigma. There should be awareness campaigns to educate and aware people about different kinds of disability.
Success stories of people with disabilities can be showcased to inculcate positive attitude among people.
More budgetary allocation for welfare of the disabled. There should be a disability budgeting on line of gender budget.
Until each of us is firmly committed to the idea of implementing the two fundamental changes sketched above, we will continue to live in an environment in which, even as we sing praises of the disabled who achieve success despite the obstacles placed on their path.
Nearly 75 years ago, the United Nations (UN) was created in the face of intolerance and discrimination to reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of humans, and in the equal rights of women and men.
Its fundamental values postulated that in order to live sustainably, we must practise tolerance and endorse the values of equality.