‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ is globally observed on 3rd Dec every year. The observance of this day signifies the spirit to ensure that the people in the world have equal rights and have equal opportunities for work, play, health, and success. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution proclaimed the day’s observance in 1992. This day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. This day is also observed to understand the challenges and issues of these people.
There are more than 1 billion disabled persons in the world, which is about 15% of the world population; in other words, nearly 1 of every seven people is born disabled. Out of which 253 million are Visually Impaired (Blind), 200 million have Intellectual Disabilities, 466 million are Hearing & Speech Impaired (Deaf & Mute), and 200 million use a wheelchair. In India, out of the 121 Crore population, 2.68 Crore are disabled, 2.21 % of the total population. Out of 70.22 crores, the male Indian population 1.5 crores are disabled, with the highest in the age group of 10-19 years which stands 46.2 lakhs. There are 1.18 crore disabled women, in India out of the 65.46 crores female population. 20.3% of Indians with disabilities have movement disabilities, 18.9% have hearing disabilities, 18.8% are visually impaired, and 8% have multiple disabilities. The disability among children is a matter of concern. In India, 20.42 lakh children aged 0-6 years are disabled. It means that 01 children in every 1000 children in the age group of 0-6 years have some disability. Literacy among urban persons with disabilities is more than that of rural ones. In rural areas, 45% of disabled persons are literate, while as it is 67% in urban areas. In Jammu & Kashmir there are 2,04,834 male disabled persons among which 1,03,730 are literate, 1,56,319 female with 47,239 literate and 27,939 disabled children. There are 8207 disabled male graduates and 3584 female disabled graduates in J&K.
Many disabilities are preventable, including those arising from medical issues during birth, maternal conditions, malnutrition, and accidents and injuries. But due to lack of proper healthcare, aids, and appliances, poorly trained health workers in rehabilitation centres have failed to react proactively to disabilities.
Another critical issue is that the education system is not inclusive. Further to add is the availability of special schools, access to schools, trained teachers, and educational material for the disabled. Also, reservation for the disabled in higher educational institutions has not been fulfilled in many instances.
Employment is another concern. Even though many disabled persons are capable of productive work, they have far lower employment rates than the general population. The situation is even worse in the private sector.
The physical accessibility of disabled persons in most buildings, vehicles, etc., remains a significant challenge.
Poor implementation of policies and schemes hinders the inclusion of disabled persons. Through various acts and schemes that have been laid down to empower the disabled, their enforcement faces many challenges.
“Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life”……… Emma Thompson
(Writer: M Ahmad, Incharge, Abhedananda Home-Higher Secondary Institution for Specially-abled Children),
Solina, Rambagh, Srinagar, J&K email: [email protected])