Disability refers to the condition of being physically or mentally disabled or challenged. The physically disabled are those physically handicapped such as the crippled, the blind, the mute as well those having some form of physical deformities. Those mentally disabled suffer from mental retardation such as cerebral palsy and down syndrome among others.
There are thousands of disabled people in Asia and many face discrimination on a regular basis which takes many forms. Very few employers hire disabled people as the latter is considered more a liability than an asset in the organization. However, these fears are completely unfounded. Many a blind and hearing impaired persons have contributed tremendously to organizations they are attached to. In fact, there are many cases of how disabled personalities have done themselves proud by being their own bosses. Their success stories include those how run their own business such as shops, restaurants, handicraft centers in addition to those who have become teachers and professionals through sheer hard work and determination. Many have even become successful sports persons participating in Paralympics Games and winning medals. It is a folly to think that only physically able people can make one’s country and nation proud.
However, those who are successful are only a handful. Since many encounter discrimination, they tend to alienate themselves from society as they feel unwanted and rejected, Our mind set has to change to accept these people and integrate them into our society.
The government should introduce steps to ensure all the disabled people have access to education and employment. In fact, special legislations and laws ought to be introduced that makes it compulsory for employers to allocate a certain number of jobs for the disabled. The Welfare department too should provide financial assistance and medical access to disabled persons who come from poor backgrounds.
Ongoing campaigns to educated society on the need to accept and live in harmony with the disabled, rather than treat them as burdens or pariahs, need to be launched. In fact, the awareness should start from a young age. Instead of setting up special schools for the disabled, the government should institute regulations that abolish such schools and the disabled children sent to regular schools. this would enable the regular students to understand and accept their peers despite the latter being obviously disadvantaged. the disabled children too would not suffer from low esteem or even feel embarrassed mixing with regular children.
In addition, most of our public infrastructure, public transport and government buildings are not disabled-friendly. There has to be a concerted effort to ensure the disabled have access to these places and not feel hampered in anyway.
Thus, it is high time that we accept the disabled as an important component of our society. Despite their handicap, they play an important role in our lives and at the same time the need our respect, acceptance and understanding.