As per the 2011 population census, around 2.21% of India’s population is specially-abled, which means that there are a little over 2 crore people in our country who are living with some form of physical or mental challenge that makes it difficult for them to function in, what we like to call, a “normal” society. This means that the number of people with disabilities in India is almost twice the entire population of Sweden! With such a large population with special needs, it’s important to understand why they’re still a minority group desperately in need of upliftment.
The social and physical barriers set up in society prevent the specially-abled people from rising above their station and living up to their full potential. Even today, most buildings in India do not have a properly accessible wheelchair ramp. Lack of funding has made it difficult for most welfare projects to get through completion. The social stigma surrounding incurable mental illnesses leaves people with no hope, estranged from an apathetic society. The fact that they require special care which may require more finances, leave most families in despair. Especially in a country like India, where most of the population is from a rural background struggling to make ends meet.
A lot of NGOs and organisations are working hard to change this mindset and make the world a more accessible place for everyone. But underfunding and less personnel makes it difficult for them to do this. Listed below are a few organisations in India that are trying to make the world a better place for the specially-abled.
The lack of access to proper special education and individual attention has led to over 60,000 specially-abled young students dropping out of school. Ritham school specially curates syllabi based on individual assessment of their students and provides a 1:8 teacher-student ratio ensuring that all students receive proper individual attention.
Many specially-abled people in India are from a rural background. The lack of access to several necessary medical and support services makes it difficult for them to be independent. Vikash works for intellectually challenged children suffering from epilepsy. They provide door-to-door therapy, training and counselling to families. Vikash also runs Mukti Kiran, a residential facility for children who need institutionalized care. The rural families in this area cannot afford the cost of these necessary medical services and the organisation helps them get medical treatment for specially-abled people.
The ostracisation from society is what impacts overall development the most. Every person feels the desire to be in an inclusive space surrounded by supportive people. Diya foundation helps create this support system and provides vocational training to intellectually challenged adults so that they can be independent financially in society.
The most difficult hurdle for specially-abled people to cross is to attain economic independence. They find it hard to get hired and have very limited job opportunities to choose from. NASEOH runs a vocational training Centre which teaches trades like pottery, tailoring, communication skills, etc. After completion of the course, the trainees are offered jobs or are encouraged for self-employment.
When it comes to special needs, education and medical support go hand-in-hand. Most specially-abled people require some form of medical care, be it physical or mental, to co-exist in a social setting. Adarsh trust is the perfect amalgamation of both. They provide education as well as therapy to students that are struggling with different kinds of needs. The foundation has physiotherapists as well as special educators to cater to the students’ needs.