The Indian uniquely-abled rights movement began in the early 1990s and was inspired by its counterpart in the US. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act was passed in 1995 which guarantees uniquely-abled people the accessibility, education, and employment like all other citizens in the country. It’s largely because of the Act that we can see uniquely-abled people in schools, higher education, and civil services.
Despite all the advances and claims about unity in diversity, India has not really been able to accept uniquely-abled individuals as an integral part of the society. Uniquely-abled people have remained on the perimeters of the society. Most of us believe that being uniquely-abled is a homogenous experience that affects a handful of people. Sadly though, this is far detached from the truth.
Being uniquely-abled cuts across all generations, and affect at least 12-15% of the population. As the population ages, the number goes up.
We don’t see many uniquely-abled people in the public life. Less than half of all government buildings in the country are disabled-friendly. Though the Constitution of India guarantees right to education to all its citizens, out of the three million uniquely-abled children in India, UNICEF and UNESCO has reported that nearly 990,000 children between six to 14 years of age don’t go to school. Uniquely-abled people, worse still, are constantly reminded of their “drawbacks” during their growing up years.
There’s a pertinent need to spread awareness that uniquely-abled people are as mainstream as the rest of the population. Not only the government, private organizations too must do their bit to work towards an inclusive society.