The proportion of disabled in India is much higher than reported due to social taboo and reduced prospect of marriage and social participation discussed in Part A. The rest of 21 disabilities are in Part B.
9. Intellectual disability: Intellectual disability (IQ < 70) affecting reading, writing, taking longer time to learn, difficulty in holding conversation maintaining eye contact due to neurodevelopmental disorder originates before 18 years, with significant impaired intellectual and adaptive functioning.
10. Thalassemia: Genetic blood disorder due to inability to produce enough haemoglobin resulting in anaemia tiredness, pale skin, bone problems, enlarged spleen, yellowish skin, dark urine, slow growth among children. Organs are starved of oxygen, unable to function properly. Symptoms in first two years. Treatment by blood transfusion, iron, folic acid.
11. Speech, language disability: Difficulty in articulation of words, producing particular sounds, issues of communication in hearing, speech, language, and fluency. Articulation refers to sounds, syllables, phonology. Language impairment is in understanding and sharing of thoughts and ideas, disorder in processing of linguistic information.
12. Specific learning disabilities: Neurological disorder, an invisible handicap in understanding spoken or written language and influence’s ability to read, write, speak, listen, spell, reason, organize information, do mathematical calculations. These are not obvious as they have no visible handicap, often accused of not listening, lazy, clumsy, weird, not understanding their own problem. , Contributes to loss of self-esteem, feeling worthlessness.
13. Muscular dystrophy: Muscle disease is a genetic disease leading to progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. Abnormal genes interfere with production of proteins required to form healthy muscle. Poor balance, curvature of spine and back, progressive inability to walk, calf deformation, respiratory difficulty, muscle spasms are a few major symptoms. The degree of weakness, how fast they worsen, and when symptoms begin determine the intensity ultimately leading to inability to walk.
14. Parkinson’s disease: Neuro degenerative disorder of central nervous system affecting motor system with symptoms generating slowly over time. Nerve cell damage in the brain reduces dopamine levels which impact the powerhouse of the body – the brain. Difficulty in standing, walking, slow bodily movement, problems with coordination, stiff muscles, sleep, mood disorders, dizziness and fainting, weakening sense of smell and taste, excessive saliva, low, soft or raspy voice, swallowing problems, difficulty in speaking properly are the symptoms. Dementia, Depression and anxiety are common in advanced stages with sensory, sleep, and emotional problems.
15. Sickle cell disease: Sickle-cell anaemia, the most common sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder leading to lack of enough healthy RBCs to carry oxygen in the body. This leads to a rigid, sickle-like shape of RBC visible from 5 to 6 months of age. Attacks of pain, anaemia, painful swelling of hands and feet, frequent infections, delayed growth, vision problems, stroke are observed.
16. Multiple disabilities: Persons with simultaneous disadvantages of hearing and visual impairments leading to severe communication, developmental and educational adversities. Due to more than one disability, orthopaedic impairment, sensory impairment, and/or a behaviour or emotional issues; developmental disability, emotional disabilities, and visual impairment are common in multiple disabilities. Mental retardation, blindness, mental retardation, orthopaedic impairments and deafness, combination of main impairments.
17. Multiple sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is due to immune system attacking myelin a protecting covering of the nerves disrupting important communication necessary between the brain and the rest of the body. Here the insulating cover of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This disrupts ability of parts of nervous system to communicate, resulting in physical, mental, psychiatric problems. Blindness in one eye, muscle weakness, trouble with sensation, or trouble with coordination, tiredness, trouble in walking, blurred or double vision, spasm, numbness and tingling, sexual problems, poor bladder or bowel control, depression, problems focussing on remembering are common. There is no cure.
18. Mental illness: Mental illnesses can strike any one for any age, economic status, race, creed or colour disrupting daily life, thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, causing significant distress, impairment of personal functioning. Others include obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, clinical depression, schizophrenia. These are treatable.
19. Low vision: Low vision is a subspeciality condition where even with regular spectacles, contact lenses, medicine or surgery, the person finds it difficult to carry out daily tasks with ease. Causes of low vision are eye disease, eye injuries, birth defects.
20. Locomotor (or mobility) disability: Disability of the bones, joint or muscles leading to substantial restriction of the movement of the limbs or a usual form of cerebral palsy due to soft tissues, spine injuries, fractures, muscular dystrophies, cerebral palsy.
21. Leprosy: Leprosy, Hansen’s disease is a chronic infectious disease affecting skin, nerves, respiratory tract, eyes, resulting in disfiguring, nerve damage, affecting all ages. It takes 3 to 5 and even up to 20 years for symptoms to appear after contacting the leprosy patient. The disease is curable.
Affirmative action in the US
Sections 503, 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, covers persons with mental and physical impairments restricting hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, manual tasks, caring for one’s self, learning, working. The Act prohibits from discriminating against and requires affirmative action for qualified individuals with disabilities in employment.
No voice for the disabled in reservation?
India with more than 20% of population with disabilities, reservation in Government jobs is modest 4%. Thus, voices of the challenged are not heard appropriately and their census enumeration is improper resulting in underreporting of their numbers and proportions.
World Disability Report recommendations
The World Report on Disability (2011) recognized that disability is high and growing exacerbated by barriers in accessing health, education, employment, transport, information. Public awareness, investing in welfare programmes and services, actively involving the challenged in planning, implementation, research on disability, improving quality data with international comparison are crucial. Dedicated disability surveys need to be carried out for comprehensive information.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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