The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3. It is also celebrated as National Disability Day and the theme this year is ‘Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post Covid-19 World’.
The World Health Organisation estimates that more than one billion people – about 15 per cent of the world’s population – experience some kind of disability. This figure is indicated to rise, given an ageing population and increase in the majority of non-communicable diseases.
While disability is linked to disadvantage, not all people with disabilities are equally disadvantaged. It actually depends on the context in which they live, and whether or not they have equal access to healthcare, education, and employment, among other factors.
At Sightsavers India — part of a global development organisation that has been working in India since 1966 to eliminate avoidable blindness and to ensure that people who are irreversibly blind are supported adequately to lead lives of independence and dignity – CEO R N Mohanty said that social inclusion is a belief that involves respecting and acknowledging every citizen, where people feel worthy and can voice their opinions.
“This can be achieved when we take a step forward to create an inclusive society, where everyone, including persons with disability, are treated alike with equal opportunities and pay,” he said.
Audiologist and speech therapist Devangi Dalal is a contributor to assisting the disabled to achieve equal status and rights in society. She is a social worker and the co-founder of JOSH Foundation, an NGO that works towards the upliftment of hearing-impaired children. She has been instrumental in collecting funds, to the tune of more than Rs 3.5 crore so far, to support these hearing-impaired children.
Dalal said the theme this year expresses a growing understanding that disability is part of the human condition. Almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life and there is a need to generate acceptance in society for the disabled and make them part of the community, she said.
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