World Disability Day 2020: Why There's A Need To Talk About Disability Today And Beyond
International Day Of Persons With Disabilities: From physical disabilities and Cerebral Palsy, autism spectrum disorder, persons with disabilities comprise a staggering 2.68 crore people, or 2.21 percent of the population in India.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3
This morning, a friend sent me an article on how children with disabilities find online schooling challenging and what can be done to help them. I responded by thanking him, and adding that there would be a spate of such articles today and maybe for a few days after, but by the next week, they would have been replaced with news of whether Boris Johnson would be chief guest at the Republic Day event or the sustainability of lab-grown meat.
Don't get me wrong - these and the other news items are indeed worthy of newsprint, and hence readers' attention. However, a subject like disability makes an appearance only rarely, popping up when a 'Day' is commemorated around the world. Whether it is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities that is being commemorated today, World Autism Awareness day on 2nd April, Down Syndrome Day on 21st March or any other such day - it ends up being just that - just a day.
Disability is a real part of societies worldwide. From obvious, seen disabilities like physical disabilities and Cerebral Palsy to invisible disabilities like autism spectrum disorder, persons with disabilities comprise a staggering 2.68 crore people, or 2.21 percent of the population in India. And yet, they are talked about or paid attention to only on 'days' such as today.
As a society, as a country and as a global people, we are tending to become more exclusive than inclusive. We are happier leaving out people who are different - whether by race, colour, gender, sexual orientation or disability - than including them and creating an inclusive society. It is time we started becoming more aware and more responsible. More aware of the rights of persons with differences. More aware of the need to move away from polarization and towards a kinder, more all-encompassing world. More responsible as individuals in how we treat people, as parents in how we practice inclusivity and model this behaviour for our children, as a society in accommodations we make for people who are not as abled, and as a country in how we ensure a life of dignity for those who are different and differently abled.
Let us make sure that on this International Day of Persons with Disabilities we take a pledge to ensure that this day becomes part of a systemic change in our country.
(Gopika Kapoor is an independent Autism Consultant, a writer and a parent of a child with Autism whose latest book "Beyond the Blue" is the story of her own journey with her son.)
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