Every year 3rd December is celebrated as the day for physically disabled people. This year the theme of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 2022 is “Transformative solutions for Inclusive Development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world”. This theme covers the following topics:
Innovation for disability-inclusive development in employment: It discusses the linkages between employment, knowledge and skills required to access employment in an innovative, rapidly changing technological landscape to all and how assistive technologies can increase accessibility to employment and be mainstreamed in a workplace.
Innovation for disability inclusive development in reducing inequality: It discusses innovations, practical tools and good practices to reduce inequalities in both public and private sectors which are disability-inclusive and interested in promoting diversity in the workplace.
Disability is a condition which restrains an individual from performing the activities as that of a normal person. The term disability refers to physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual, mental and other types of diseases which restrict the activities of individual. Disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them. Person with disabilities suffer from various barriers be it attitudinal, perceptional, environmental and societal barriers.
Disability involves dysfunction at one or more of three levels a) the body or body part , b) the whole person, c) the whole person within social context – in one or more of three ways, impairments ( in body structure or function) activity limitations or difficulties, and restricted participation in multiple life spheres ( World Health Organization, 2002).
The World Health Organization has found that over 1 billion people worldwide experience disability. The Global Burden of Disease estimates the number of children aged 0-14 years experiencing “moderate or severe disability” at 93 million (5.1%) with 13 million (0.7 %) children experiencing severe difficulties.
Inclusion means that all people are entitled to full membership of the human family. Within the large group of humanity, just as in any family, people play a number of different roles and bring to the community the variety of needs, vulnerabilities, skills and experiences. Each individual operates in relation with others and each of us is interdependent. Inclusion refers to the recognition of self in other and other in self. Inclusion is the principle that all are entitled to participate fully in all aspects of society that all have the same rights and responsibilities. It is the principle that demands value recognition of all people and the entitlement of all too meaningful interaction involvement in every part of complex, multifaceted societies in which we live. It refers to the removal of barriers and social structures which hinder participation.
In order for people with disabilities to be included in society each of the three elements of inclusion must be operational. There must be non discriminatory attitude towards people with disabilities, guarantee of access to participation in every field of life, and the facilitation of people with disabilities to limit the impact of disability.
Inclusive development engenders empowerment through which persons with disabilities move from being considered vulnerable groups to become resource groups in society and contributors to the development of society. The goal of inclusion is that persons with disabilities should at all stages of life realise their rights and participate in all aspects of society and development on an equal basis with others.
Social inclusion of people with disabilities
Social Inclusion for people with disabilities is endorsed by Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRDP: United Nations , 2008). The World Health Organisation (WHO, 2013) has long been advocating for full social inclusion for all individuals and suggested the importance of the promotion of health and reduction of health inequalities through addressing the social determinants of health by ‘whole-of-government ‘ and ‘whole-of-society’ approaches and improved governance for health.
Societal attitudes towards disability
Societal attitudes related to Persons with Disabilities are reflected within family, being base of all social organisations which has the prime responsibility of socialising the individual and imbibing institutionalised values. Disabled Persons find their opportunities limited due to social rejection, social avoidance and limited employment opportunities.
Barriers to disability
The barriers to disability are categorised as Attitudinal, Environmental and Institutionalised.
Negative attitudes towards persons with disability create a disabling environment. Multiple and intersectional discrimination can intensify attitudinal barriers. They are often expressed through discrimination, fear, bullying and low expectations of people with disability.
Inaccessible environment creates barriers to participation and inclusion (WHO & World Bank, 2011). Physical barriers in the natural or built environment create many obstacles and affect opportunities for participation.
Institutional barriers include laws, policies, strategies and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities.
Internalised barriers severely affect the participation and functioning of people with disabilities. Stigma related to people with disabilities results in their exclusion from social interaction which will affect their behaviour in expressing their opinions and claiming their rights leading to their exclusion from the society.
Mainstreaming of persons with disabilities
Mainstreaming is a tool as well as a method for achieving social inclusion which involves the practical pursuit of non discrimination and equality of opportunity for people with disabilities. Persons with disabilities share the most basic needs with other people in society so mainstreaming is an efficient way to achieve equality for persons with disabilities. Disabled population is considered as the marginalised group of society so mainstreaming this segment of population is necessary for their development
Social support for person with disabilities
Social support is a term that describes comfort created by family, friends, group, community, institutions. It helps in coping various challenges of life. It involves conveying a feeling of value, worth and acceptance towards individuals.
The significance of International Day of Persons with Disabilities is that the people suffering from different kind of difficulties should live their lives easily. The rights and well-being of the persons with disabilities in social, economic, political and cultural aspect of life should be taken in to consideration. Employment opportunities should be provided to them. Policy making should be strengthened so that its implementation can help them in multiple ways.
Farhana Yousuf is pursuing Research at Jaipur National University, Rajasthan