March 2008

Ability redefined

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There is a discernable amount of debate over the identification and categorisation of disabled people. The disabled people, also known as 'handicapped persons' in some parts of this world, was labeled as differently abled by the US Democratic National Committee in the early 1980's. This euphemistic term was not to show sympathy and revelation to the subjects of concern but to let people know that differently abled people can reach to equal and higher levels of accomplishment if they are provided with the necessary logistics, equipment, clinical and augmentative support systems. By using alternative support systems, the ability of the physically, mentally and neurally challenged people can be enhanced to much higher levels. Studies and experiences show that that people with disabilities (barring some disabilities where the neuro-transmission process is severely affected) are many times brilliant than their normal counterparts in terms of knowledge, communication and interaction.

The condition of the differently abled people in Asian and African countries is dismal and in India, five percent of its total population is disabled population with over 14 million blind people and 28 million people living with low vision. A majority of them are living in the fringes of our community. In the developed world, quite a few number of regulatory provisions and legal specifications have been envisaged to accommodate the differently abled in the mainstream community. Many developed nations take recourse to robotic technologies and other ICT tools to help people cope with clinical disabilities.

Many technologies have evolved over time to aid the differently abled people in terms of accessibility and interactive communication. These ranges from primordial technologies to advanced form of digital technologies. Initiation and implementation  of ICT tools in the last couple of years have really facilitated the process of learning and interaction for the differently abled people. ICT tools have no doubt fostered access opportunities.

In a major stride to realise the potential in differently abled people, different Governments have taken an all-inclusive approach and have made it mandatory to include the differently abled people by providing them employment, by initiating progressive policy measures, by identifying their labour value, etc. In one of the major endeavours, the Government of India, in the month of January 2008, has deceided to outlay INR 18 billion, as an incentive for cash-rich private sector, to provide employment to 100,000 differently abled people. One shouldn't forget that the differently abled people have the right to provisions which enable them to live a life with dignity and self-respect, and to have opportunities to realise their full potential.

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