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Disabled population- Facts, findings and challenges

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'International Day of Persons with Disabilities'

By: M Ahmad

‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ is globally observed on 3rd Dec every year. The observance of this day signifies the sprit to ensure that the people in the world have equal rights and have equal opportunities for work, play, health and success. The observance of the day was proclaimed by the United Nation as General Assembly Resolution in 1992. This day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilizing the support for the dignity, rights and well being of the 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 world population, in other words nearly 1 of every 7 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 are Wheelchair bound.  In India out of the 121 crore population 2.68 crore are disables which is 2.21 % of the total population. Out of 70.22 Crore male Indian population 1.5 crore are disabled, with 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 65.46 crore 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 child in every 1000 children in age group of 0-6 years suffer from some type of disability. Literacy among urban persons with disabilities is more than that of rural ones. In rural areas 45% 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 graduate in J&K.

A large number of disabilities are preventable, including those arising from medical issues during birth, maternal conditions, malnutrition as well as accidents and injuries. But due to lack of proper healthcare, aids and appliances, poorly trained health workers in rehabilitation centres has failed to react proactively to disabilities.

Another important issue is that the education system is not inclusive. Further to add it is availability of special schools, access to schools, trained teachers and availability of 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 but they have far lower employment rates than the general population. The situation is even worse in the private sector.

Physical accessibility of disabled person in most of the buildings and vehicles etc still remains a major challenge as well as poor implementation of polices and schemes hinders the inclusion of disabled persons. Though various acts and schemes have been laid down with an aim 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

The writer is Incharge, Abhedananda Home-Higher Secondary Institution for Specially-abled Children), Solina, Rambagh, Srinagar, J&K  email: abhome78@gmail.com)

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