Generally, disability denotes the condition of impairment, handicapped and crippled. It is the negative connotation of disability and disabled person which transmits an ill message to the society about them. Now, disabled persons are supposed to differently be able persons. They are called some positive names. For instance, physical challenged person or man of exception or exceptionally able person. Indeed, Person with disabilities (PWDs) is human resource in our society. They can be manpower in our country if they are recruited in training institutes. Their retention and memorizing power is almost hundred percent. Their dropout rate in education is nearly zero percent. Some organs of them are more active, capable and effective.
Disability is described as the difficulty in performing a certain types of function. Disabled people are the opposition of healthy people. The persons with disabilities have activity limitation, participation abridgement and functional boundary. Disability hindrances to perform any activity like other ordinary persons. According to World Health Organization, “Disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations and participation restriction.” UNICEF mentioned that disability is the difficulty in seeing, speaking, hearing, writing, walking, conceptualizing or any other function within the range considered normal for human being.
Disability is caused either prenatal period or postnatal period. Those people with disabilities who are the victims of disability occurring in the prenatal due to chromosome (Down syndrome) that is biological. Postnatal disability is occurred after birth by effect of medicine, infection, malnutrition or injury. According to Disability Rights and Protection Act 2013, there have been categorized 12 different forms of disability .They are : (1) Autism (2) Physical disability (3) Psychological disability (4) Visual impaired (5) Speech disability (6) Intellectual disability (7) Hearing disability (8) Hearing-visual disability (9) Cerebral palsy (10) Down Syndrome (11) Multiple disabilities (12) Others.
According to World Health Organization, 1 billion or 15% people in the world and 16 million people or 10% people in Bangladesh are disabled. ILO has described that people with disabilities are the world’s largest minority group. They deserve social security programs. At present, 815,000 people with disabilities get monthly allowance TK 700 from the Government although the Government had identified 1.51 million or 16 lakh people with disabilities in 2013(mentioned in Dhaka Tribune). It goes without saying that huge people with disabilities are beyond the Government allowance. Even there has little discussion on the welfare of this disadvantaged people in the policy-makers.
Person with disabilities (PWDs) confront with many obstacles and various barriers in their daily life. For instance, transportation system is not disabled friendly as there have no access to wheelchair in buses or trains. It makes them impossible for enjoying transportation facilities. Similarly, most buildings are not accessible for PWDs because of having no ramps. Those buildings are not followed Bangladesh national Building Codes during making buildings. Toilet system is also not favorable for disabled person. For removing the sufferings and protecting the rights of disabled person, the disability Rights and protection Act-2013 and The Neuro developmental Disability protection trust Act-2013 have been formulated.
The article 27 of the Bangladesh constitution protects equal rights for all citizens of the country. But the physical challenged person cannot enjoy equal rights since they are not capable to compete with normal person. Rather, they need special conveniences like special education, special hospital. Therefore, the provision of article 28(4) imparts special facilities for the disabled person. Moreover, Bangladesh has ratified UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on the rights of person with Disabilities). It enables Bangladesh to manage a major paradigm shift from welfare based approach to right based approach. It upholds the rights of disabled person and protects the dignity of them.
There are several conceptual models of disability which are commonly used for curbing the sufferings of disabled person such as Social Model, Religious Model, Economic Model and Medical Model. Medical model is seen disability as outcomes of health condition (chronic disease, injury, severe impairments, malnutrition etc.) or environmental factor (lag social interaction, social attitude). It is the physical problem of an individual. So, the proper medical treatment as well as rehabilitation is sought for the remedy of disability. Doctor therapist in special hospital is required. Proper medical care makes them a capable person.
Religious model considers disability as a punishment by God due to misdemeanor and mischief. For this, sometimes the religious people do not accept them positively. The religion of Islam gives a great deal of attention to the physical challenged person. Islam endeavors to eliminate the gap between people with disabilities and normal people. Islamic scriptures deal with disability and give a clear positive illustration. The holy Quran states, “There is not upon the blind any guilt or upon the lame any guilt or upon the ill any guilt, and whoever obeys Allah and His messenger –He will admit him to gardens beneath which rivers follow: but whoever turns away – He will punish him with a painful punishment.” (Al-Quran, 48: 17) The statement contains positive attitude toward the people with disability that is helpful for consisting inclusive society.
Economic model considers disability as the result of unemployment. People with disability are deprived of employment opportunities. The unemployment gives birth to disability. Employed persons suppose disability as a weakness and disabled persons are unable to work. So, they depend on others for their survival and need economic support. They cannot enjoy economic rights including decent employment opportunities despite the Disability Rights and Protection act-2013 because the law has not been implemented properly. Thus, implementation of law protects their rights and creates conducive work environment for physical challenged persons. It is essential for economic freedom that can bring disabled person in the mainstream society.
Among all disability models, social model is very crucial. This model seems disability is created due to social discrimination, inaccessibility and negative attitude to the people with disabilities (PWDs).The people of our society expose negative attitude to the person with disabilities’ or ‘disabled persons. The misconception and misunderstanding about them still now prevails in our society. Social environment is not disabled friendly.
It is believed that disability is a social stigma. PWDs are addressed by various neglected words as well as insulting names such as blind, lame, deaf, mad etc. They are hardly included in social activities or functions. Person with disabilities cannot participate in the family occasion or festival. They confront with loneliness and mistreated behavior. Furthermore, many families conceal their children with disabilities due to social stigma. Family members regard person with disability as a curse or burden. For this reason, they become marginalized and excluded member of a family in addition to society
So, the social model suggests that the participation of physical challenged person in social function should be increased. If the member of society accepts the disabled person easily, their sufferings and inferior complex can get lost to some extent. Access to social service and opportunities is part and parcel for the wellbeing of them. Negative social attitude must be changed. Above all, for building up inclusive society, their engagement in social policy and decision making process is imperative.
Physical challenged person is highly potential in some cases. They have hidden and latent talent. If persons with disabilities (PWDs) are provided adequate skill based training under TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training), they can be self-reliant. They can contribute immensely to the economy of country. Physically challenged person is also a stakeholder for inclusive development. Hence, changing the worst situation of disabled person and poverty elimination of them is compulsory for inclusive development as well as inclusive society.
The awareness should be made about disability issue so that they can get suitable environment in the living society. Positive attitude to the people with disabilities can reduce their vulnerabilities and emasculation. Social security programs make them economically independent. Access to human rights and fundamental rights such as education, health service, and medical care have to provide them as constitutional rights, not charity. Besides, access to economic rights (right to work, equal payment), political rights (right to vote, right to organization) and social rights (right to freedom of opinion, mobility, participating in social festival) must be secured properly. Ensuring equality, accessibility and awareness for PWDs is to have top priority to the concerned authority.
The author is an undergraduate student of University of Dhaka.