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Rights of People with Disabilities - Disability and technology

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Disability and technology
The new technology can open up exciting avenues for the progress of people with disability and those responsible for designing and manufacturing goods and equipment and planning services must not forget the special needs of people with disability. Technology can help to fulfill the various promises the new law has made. It will help to bring down barriers to fuller participation of people with disability in all activities of the society. Technology would bring out substantial number of people with disability from their miserable pit of isolation and extreme dependence.

Disability issues kept out of politics
With this long–delayed and much–awaited piece of social legislation, India has succeeded in outlawing discrimination against people with disability. During the Winter Session (1995) of the Parliament when the political parties had locked horns over political and ideological concerns and the business of the Parliament had been suspended for several days, disability issues did not lend themselves to become the cause for political division. The support for 90 million people with disability?? in India remained the primary concern for all Members of Parliament and no one involved disability in any political controversy and debate. All the lawmakers were determined to give their full support to the Disability Bill. They seemed to have a clear idea on how a civilized society should behave towards those countrymen who are disabled. In the passing of the law, the Parliament has stopped pretending that although people with disability do exist, they can not be included in the priority list of entitlements claimed by non–disabled Indian citizens. The new law demonstrates the undeniable philosophical shift from charity and welfare to civil rights. Talking down to people with disability in patronizing and paternalistic terms has given way to a language ensuring equality and dignity. Instead of segregation of people with disability, there is now emphasis on their full participation and total integration.

Disability as a social construct
The impact of new legislation on old and deep seated discriminatory practices and attitudes against people with disability would take a long time to be felt. Disability is essentially a social construct and reflects a flaw in the thinking processes of our society. The person with polio does not have a problem, the problem is rather with the building which prevents his wheelchair to get inside or with the bus which stops him from riding in it or the taxi driver who ignores him on the roadside. The new law has given boost to the self–esteem of every disabled person in the country. The law is important since it liberates a disabled person. He/she should have ample opportunities to change his/her life rather than to remain dependent on others. Feelings of anger, frustration and self–disgust will gradually get replaced by competence, independence and health. people with Disability need no longer waste their energies in fighting oppression and discrimination but instead should invest them in improving the world around them.

Liberation for all
One out of every ten people in India suffers from one form of disability or the other, that is they possess physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more of major life activities. In other words, 90 million of our countrymen live with, and learn to overcome in their own individual ways, problems which non–disabled can seldom understand. The law should enable not only one in ten people but nine out of every ten people to lead their lives to their fullest potential. The law declares that disability need not be insurmountable as long as it can be properly understood and catered for. The law attempts to eradicate factors which produce low self–esteem in people with disability and empowers them to confront the insensitivity and ignorance of others. The real danger now is that those who had been vigorously demanding its enactment might become complacent and think that the job has been done. The Act must be implemented in schools and colleges, in factories and workplaces, in transport and shopping Centres. People with disabilities, and those who care for them, must ensure that discrimination is outlawed and barriers are removed as much from the physical environment as from the attitudes of ordinary people. The real battle for the right to full citizenship and active participation of people with disability is ahead. The Act is comprehensive but must be enforced with sincerity and determination.


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