Technology December 21, 2020
Inclusion and Technology: Redeemers of the Disabled- Guest Column by Vijay Kumar Nair
Lt. Vijay Kumar Nair who lives in Kochi became a paraplegic and has speech impairment after he met with an accident few years ago. Vijay, who worked with the Indian Navy has always been a passionate writer. He currently works as a content writer with Chinmaya International Foundation and is vocal about issues of the disability community.
Throughout the history of its existence, humanity and technology have evolved together. In every age, humans have been employing technology for the singular purpose that is to enhance his capabilities to attain his objectives. Our dependence on technology in some form today has become so imperative and inevitable that in its absence every individual feels as impaired as a person with some form of disability. In that context, any form of disability is simply the absence or the lack of access to technology or aids that can compensate it.
Unfortunately in our country, the term ‘minority’ is only analogous to religious or caste minority. Interests of persons with disabilities, who constitute 2.3% of the country’s population, is often compromised for the convenience of the able bodied majority. In baby steps towards granting inclusion and accessibility for the disabled, the central Government has set up the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Various schemes have been proposed and planned, but its realisation is still a few years away. It needs to be made mandatory that every nook of any upcoming infrastructure has to be made disabled friendly with regular accessibility audits. Without mandatory regular audits, the upkeep of ramps and other installed assistive devices might be conveniently ignored. The disabled community needs to be spared of both sympathy and apathy. The community demands only empathy from the society.
For building a society empathetic towards the needs of the disabled, inclusion has to start right from school. That is only possible by creating a conducive environment for children with any kind of disability other than cognitive disorders to opt for regular schooling over home tutoring. This serves the dual purpose, of making disabled children feel no different, but equal to other kids. It will sensitise every child with the needs of impaired and accept them as one among them. Learning about and interacting with children with cognitive disorders through visits to special schools too should be made a part of school curriculum.
Reservations for the disabled in government jobs and prominent educational institutions like the IITs and IIMs are already in place. But this is not enough. Private sector industries and start-ups need to be encouraged to train and employ persons with disabilities. Such organisations can be suitably incentivised by the administration. It is also essential to make disability aids available and affordable for the needy. So keeping them outside the ambit of taxation has to be given a serious consideration.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Similarly, a nation is only as strong as its most vulnerable citizen. Facilitating inclusion and competitive opportunities for the differently abled community is not just the responsibility of a few in the administration. Instead, it is a social change and responsibility that requires the participation of every citizen who can positively influence the life of the disabled community. A person with any form of disability can look up only to technology and social Inclusion, in addition to his/her own will for redemption.
Support us to make NewzHook Sustainable – Make a Contribution Today
We need your continued support to enable us work towards Changing Attitudes towards Disability. Help us in our attempt to share the voices of people with disabilities that enable them to participate in the society on an equal footing!