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Matthew Gervais, an American evolutionary biologist has traced origins of laughter back to 4 million years when human beings became bipedal. Language appeared only 2 million years after the first laugh. Since then laughter and humour has occupied vital space in everyday life. Anjali Arora enumerates some lighter moments which occurred in her life because of her disability.

Humour and disability has close association. Disability and persons with disabilities are represented with an element of humour in media and literature.

I personally feel that mocking at others is not the real import of humour. Instead, the ability to enjoy life situations particularly those, which are discomforting is the real humour. Adding a humorous element to the difficult situations, makes the conversation enjoyable.

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Visual disability and the Indian policy makers

by Adhimoolam Vetrivel Murugan

In India, Visually disabled people have realized that those with visual impairments, in all the countries and cultures of the world, have one experience in common, an experience that stares at them constantly, hurts them relentlessly. This single common experience, cutting across geographical, political and cultural boundaries, is Discrimination.

In case of the developing countries like India, the intensity of social deprivation is even more and if it is accompanied with other socially constructed inequalities such as caste, class, race, gender etc., then it becomes extremely formidable for them to overcome the social oppression.

Women, Disability and Human Rights - III

by Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande

Where do we go from here?

To improve the lives of the disabled in general and disabled women in particular, a beginning should be made in the field of everyday life. A host of technical devices are available to make the life of the disabled easier.

Devices - such as the Wheelchair, braces, crutches, canes and shower seats- called 'durable medical equipment' are designed to aid disabled people in performing necessary functions like moving around, personal care, etc.  In addition items such as adapted tools and utensils, Braille writer, adopted telecommunication devices, and modified computers can significantly increase the health, independence, mobility, productivity, and quality of life of women with disabilities.

Women, Disability and Human Rights - II

by Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande

Disability and Women

The percentage of disabled varies from country to country. India being a populous country has a large population of disabled. As they are often marginalized and separated from the mainstream society, non-disabled people have little opportunity to know about disabled people. Disability is regarded as something out of ordinary.

In many societies, more often than not, it is associated as a tragedy both for the individual as well as the family. It is assumed that the disabled is destined for dependence. It is worse in case of women, particularly from the developing world, because of limited information available on the subject. Usually, work on disabled women focuses on how disabled women deal with “double disadvantage” that is sexism and disability — an approach contended by most feminists.

Women, Disbability and Human Rights - I

by Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande

What is disability?

We bring to you this article - the first of a three part series - contributed by, Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande, who have painstakingly described the definitions of disability and the rights of the disabled and the state of disabled women.

For a disabled child, the struggle of life begins, for discrimination encounters him as he opens his eyes in this world. Disability is a natural phenomenon that occurs in every society and every generation. It may result from pre-natal factors, birth injuries, diseases or stress. The intensity of the struggle depends on which part of the world the child opens his eyes, and, to what gender he or she belongs. It is hardly worth repeating that the things are less tough in the developed world and for him than her. This paper forms an overview of disability as an issue and how it is different for women than men.

What is Disability? Who is a disabled? Over a period of time these have become technical questions. As far as human rights are concerned no technical explanation is required. Human rights deal with minimum standard of life of an individual. Human rights and fundamental rights therefore cannot be studied differently. Both human rights and fundamental rights do not discriminate people on the basis of their caste, creed, sex, religion and disability.

The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons summarises a great number of different functional limitations occurring in any country of the world. People may be disabled by physical, intellectual or sensory impairment, medical conditions or mental illness. Such impairments, conditions or illnesses may be permanent or transitory in nature.

It is differentiated from the term handicap, which means the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the community on an equal level with others.  It describes the encounter between the person with a disability and the environment. The purpose of this term is to focus on the shortcomings in the environment and in many organised activities of the society, for example, information, communication and education, which prevent persons with disabilities form participating on equal terms. 

The terminology itself is not without dispute. According to the international encyclopaedia of women “the Terminology or the language used to describe –Disability — has been a topic of much discussion both within and outside the disabled community. Phrases such as “handicapped”, "crippled", "wheelchair bound", "feeble minded" and "imbecile" have been rejected by many as loaded, stereotyped, and negative”.  It says the positive descriptions put forward by some include words like "Physically challenged”, “differently abled”, as alternatives. Generally, disability–rights activists favour language that is straightforward and accurate—“people with disabilities” or “people with intellectual disabilities”.

In 1980, the World Health Organization adopted an international classification of impairments, disabilities and handicaps, which suggested a more precise and at the same time relativistic approach. The international classification of impairments, disabilities and Handicaps makes a clear distinction between “, “disability” and “handicap”.  It has been extensively used in areas such as rehabilitation, education statistics, policy, legislation, demography, sociology, economics and anthropology.

It has been stated that “During the 70s there was a strong reaction among representatives of organisations of persons with disabilities and professionals in the field of disability against the terminology in use during those times. The term 'disability' and 'handicap'  were often used in an unclear and confusing way, which gave poor guidance for policy making and for political action. The terminology reflected a medical and diagnostic approach, which ignored the imperfections and deficiencies of the surrounding society”.

In the opinion of the authors of this paper, the differences over definition is a matter of semantics. It is important that the mindset of people towards the disabled should change. More than the terminology it is important that the attitude of the society —parents, friends, colleagues—should change. Once the attitudinal changes come, the definitional problems will become marginal. The authors make a strong appeal not look at disabled people as people in need of sympathy but as people in need of understanding and material support. The definitional arguments are marginal to the desirability of attitudinal shifts.

Read the second part of this article Women, Disability and Human Rights - II .

The Success of Integrated Education in India

by Shivaji Kumar

The development and growth of education for visually disabled persons in India took a great leap forward with the involvement of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The tremendous growth in the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and increase in the range of their activities demonstrates that the resilience of civil society sector in initiating and implementing socially beneficial activities on a large scale. The main capital of the NGOs lies in their capacity to deliver services to the marginal, unorganized and silent minority sections of the society. Most of these organizations working for the education of visually disabled persons in India have sprung from local initiatives but some of them have transnational links.

Articles

Articles and write-ups from community members. People with disabilities share with us their perspective on various aspects important to them. We invite contributions from all members of this community to share your perspective on issues and subjects close to you.

Good Questions, Better Answers

By Anjali Arora
Humour and disability has close association. Disability and persons with disabilities are represented with an element of humour in media and literature. I personally feel that mocking at others is not the real import of humour. Instead, the ability to enjoy life situations particularly those, which are discomforting is the real humour. Adding a humorous element to the difficult situations, makes the conversation enjoyable.
Good Questions, Better Answers - Full Article

The Success of Integrated Education in India

by Shivaji Kumar
The development and growth of education for visually disabled persons in India took a great leap forward with the involvement of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The tremendous growth in the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and increase in the range of their activities demonstrates that the resilience of civil society sector in initiating and implementing socially beneficial activities on a large scale. The main capital of the NGOs lies in their capacity to deliver services to the marginal, unorganized and silent minority sections of the society.
The Success of Integrated Education in India - Full Article

Women, Disbability and Human Rights - I

by Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande
We bring to you this well-researched article in three parts. The first part - What is disability? - desribes the definitions of disability, the rights of the disabled, and the state of the disabled women.
Women, Disability and Human Rights - 1 - Full Article

Women, Disability and Human Rights - II

by Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande
The second of the three part series by, Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande, on the issues of disability, the rights of the disabled and the state of women with disabilities.
Women, Disability and Human Rights - II - Full Article

Women, Disability and Human Rights - III

by Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande
Concluding part of the three part series by Yogesh Gupta and Savita Pande on the issues of disability, the rights of the disabled and the state of disabled women. In this article the authors suggest ways to improve the state of the disabled.
Women, Disability and Human Rights - III - Full Article

Visual disability and the Indian policy makers

by Adhimoolam Vetrivel Murugan
In India, Visually disabled people have realized that those with visual impairments, in all the countries and cultures of the world, have one experience in common, an experience that stares at them constantly, hurts them relentlessly. This single common experience, cutting across geographical, political and cultural boundaries, is Discrimination.
Visual Disability and the Indian Policy Makers - Full Article

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