Close your eyes for a moment, how does it feel? It only feels normal because you know that you can always open them again, but what if you could never see this beautiful world again and were stuck in darkness? What if you could never walk on your two feet or enjoy soulful music again? Life with disabilities can be frustrating. Think about how painful it would be to live with other disabilities as well, yet these extremely delightful people overcome their difficulties and strive to inspire us.
Disabled vs. Differently-Abled
The first thing that comes to mind when labelling someone as 'disabled' is the action itself. People aren't and shouldn't be labelled as anything, least of all disabled. When someone is diagnosed with a condition (like autism), they aren't autistic, they HAVE autism. Who they are as a person is not impacted by a medical condition and it surely doesn't contribute to their identity. While the labelling aspect is important to some, it isn't to most others.
The term disabled has not been favoured in recent times with several alternatives cropping up. One of these is seeing more favour than others - 'differently-abled'. This term is inclusive and offers an equal platform to those who fall under it.
What does it mean to be differently-abled?
People with mental or physical conditions are differently-abled because they possess a unique set of abilities and perspectives. Everybody has the ability and everybody matters, it's all about acknowledging it. 'Differently-abled' doesn't hide the fact that your loved one has been diagnosed with a condition, but continues to empower them despite it. Oftentimes, differently-abled people see what we can't, hear what we can't, and think about what we can't. This makes their ability different - not inferior, not superior - just different.
The term differently-abled recognises talent and value in everybody and treats them equally.
While mental conditions like autism can affect certain everyday functions, they need not stop them from enjoying a fulfilling, enriched and loved life. Many different people are known to flourish and rejoice in life with the right opportunity, support, and love.
Every year 2.68 crore voices go unheard. These differently-abled people are people with physical or mental incapacities.
They are one of the excluded sections of the society and are vulnerable because of the many barriers they face: attitudinal, physical, and financial. Addressing these barriers will unlock the potential of so many people with so much to contribute to the world. They face innumerable complications in our country may it be public transport-related problems, lack of appropriate infrastructure, being dependent on family members, difficulty in receiving education, or even difficulty in obtaining jobs. Disabled people sometimes have difficulty doing things that others may take for granted, such as climbing stairs or using some household appliances, etc. However, the greatest challenge that differently-abled people have had to face has been society’s misconception that they are the“breed apart” and so are often ignored.
Disabled people are 100% citizens and are responsible taxpayers, however not much of the government’s efforts in introducing acts like the Right Of Persons with Disabilities Act and the Deen Dayal disabled rehabilitation scheme have given good results, mainly due to the lack of proper implementation and execution. This can be observed by the huge amount of illiteracy, especially in rural areas among disabled people. Of the total disabled population in urban areas, nearly 67% are literate out of which only 15% are graduates. Of the total disabled population in rural areas, nearly 49% are literate out of which only 5% are graduates. This happens primarily because some schools don’t let them get enrolled, and at times parents are not aware of or cannot afford special schools for their kids.
This can be observed in the tables below:
Disabled people do not receive jobs mainly for two reasons either they're not educated enough or because the employer feels that they wouldn’t perform efficiently. Due to this, they remain dependent on their family members and face hindrances in earning enough. Most of them also believe that their inability to financially support their family is a major setback. All this also affects the person internally as they lose their confidence and become insecure. At an all India level, only 36% of the total disabled persons are employed. Among the male disabled persons, 47% are working and among the female disabled, only 23% are working. This can be observed in the table below:
Disabled people often undergo extensive impediments in finding their soul mate as most of the time they are dependent on their families and taking care of them carries responsibility. At times they are diffident and reticent and find it tough to open up to others. This can be observed through the table below:
I believe disabled people are beautiful and brave who overcome their difficulties and strive to inspire others. For their betterment, apart from proper implementation and execution of existing schemes, the government should take some steps such as increasing the amount of financial assistance and scholarships, creating awareness about various welfare schemes through television, radio, and newspapers, providing appropriate means to make traveling comfortable for them and providing suitable self-employment opportunities. The Government should also ensure that every child with a disability has access to free education in an appropriate environment until he/she attains 18 years of age. The government should take strict action against those who disrespect and physically or mentally harm disabled people and see that no discrimination takes place.
It comes down to us responsible citizens to support disabled people and apprehend that society’s accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as the physical limitations that flow from actual impairments and that it’s not their DISABILITY, but their ABILITY that counts.