Persons With Disabilities Don't Need Your Sympathy

(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)

By Masood Ali Mir

IN the opening ceremony of the ongoing FIFA World Cup at Qatar, the Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman came down to his knees in order to shake his hand with Qatari Youtuber and Philanthropist Ghanim Al Muftah, who as born with a rare condition known as Caudal Regression Syndrome (CDS). The two created the scene worth watching full of respect, dignity and human values in the form of universal massage for tolerance and togetherness:

“What unites us is greater than what divides us. We are one big tribe and the earth is our tent. Together we can make the call for everyone to unite”.

This day, celebrated as“International Day of Persons with Disabilities”, asks for the same kind of approach and understanding from us towards all those specially-abled people who live around us in the same environment with common values and cultural ethos. The purpose for the observance of this day is to widen our outlook and promote the understanding of the concept of disability and mobilize local, national and International support for the rights, dignity and well-being of persons with disabilities. It is observed with the aim of complete integration of persons with disabilities with the rest in different social, political, economic and cultural aspects of life.

Disability is a complex and multifaceted concept. Its meaning differs across territories along numerous associated legal, political and social constructs. Disabilities such as physical challenges, acid attacks or dwarfism are easy to identify but the disabilities like mental illness, specific learning disabilities, hearing impairments or autism are comparatively difficult and complex to identify without appropriate training. Hence, disability is more complex.

Disability, in simple terms, is a physical or mental condition or both, that limits individuals movement, activities or sense of perception.

In India, Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act of 2016 recognizes 21 disability conditions. It has replaced Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act 1995 which recognised only seven disability conditions. The Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 is in pure harmony with the United Nations Convention on Right of Persons with Disabilities and provides a legal framework, generates awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities and promotes equity based inclusion.

Of the one billion population of Persons with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries. It is estimated that 46% of the older people aged 60 years and over are people with disabilities and one in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life while one in every ten children is a child with a disability. Despite being so numerous, persons with disabilities are still overwhelmingly overlooked and are not treated the right way as any other human being should be treated.

The reality of experiences across the country are totally different from the international and national legal and constitutional provisions. Persons with disabilities are facing a lot of discrimination due to prejudices and biases in our society. It is most common in institutions which impart education.

The day which we are observing actually demands certain pledges from us for which we have to work hard. In order to facilitate the welfare and the overall development of the people around us with any sort of disability, we have to go a mile ahead and design things which may prove easy, relevant and helpful for the people with special needs.

1. The first step towards progress and prosperity is the early identification process. It is better that the identification process of the persons with disabilities should begin ideally at the moment of birth. The needs of people arising due to the disability should be appropriately addressed and they should be supported to realise their full potential within the society.

2. The second step for welfare is proper education. Education is the single greatest tool for achieving social justice and equality. Education aims to benefit the way that no person loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth, background and any disability.

In the field of education there is the need to redesign the settings in order to have:

a) Equal opportunities for the children with special needs. (Democratic settings of the classroom)

b) Conducive educational environment for the children with special needs. ( CWSN friendly infrastructure and supportive school environment)

c) To facilitate the retention and completion of schooling of these children. ( Resource rooms with special teacher educators)

d) To facilitate the cooperative living and mainstreaming of the children with special needs.( Those who learn together, learn to live together)

e) To develop the knowledge, skills and understanding of key strategies critical for living a decent human life. ( Vocational courses)

f) To involve these children with the other students of the school in all the activities of School.( School can serve as a nursery for an inclusive society)

3. After education there is a need to look for a decent living. A decent living here refers to two things:

I) There are enough opportunities for them to earn their livelihood with full honour. In order to earn a livelihood we have to create suitable workplace conditions for them in accordance with their abilities, capacities and capabilities.

II) Persons with disabilities deserve equal social and political status in society. The country must have a certain amount of affirmative action favouring the people with special needs because they have suffered in the past due to the disabilities. As the equal partners of the system, this section must have the equal opportunities to participate in the process of decision making. When they are at the helm of affairs they may legislate better policies and apply the same for their betterment.

III) The next intervention which the persons with disability need is to have the special and need specific environment and engagement in the social, cultural, religious and economic fields. We have to create a genuine space for them in accordance with their special needs. This space is needed in the schools, hospitals, mosques, public parks, means of transport, cultural events etc etc. We do already have some space for them but it is not up to the mark and is not satisfying the ultimate aim.

The day which we do observe every year calls for the general attitudinal change and adjustment of the common masses in the society so that a large section of the people get the chance to live their life the way they deserve with all the rights, respect, dignity, honour and privilege. They never ask for sympathy and the things they do not deserve, they only ask for the respect, honour, position and power which we owe to them.

  • Masood Ali Mir is a Sr Academic Officer SCERT J&K and can be mailed at [email protected]

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