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International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020

International Disability Capability Day 2020

The adage goes, “Everybody is a genius. But if we judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it’s stupid.”

Each of us are capable in some way or the other. While some of us possess talent in literature, some excel in arts. Some can enthrall us by their singing, but some are allergic to sound. Some of us excel in academics while some emerge as sports men. We all have different ways of doing things and look at life from different vision. We create our identity and expect to be known and recognized by our capabilities. God has designed the world to be diverse.

Then why do we identify people with their disabilities. Why do we label people who can’t study, as slow learners? Why do we brand a person with bundle of energy as hyperactive? Many have health issues like diabetes, thyroid, high blood pressure. But they are not predominantly identified through their diseases as person with thyroid or a person with diabetics. Would we accept if the world calls us as person with cancer/HIV? We all face deterioration in our eyes and ears as we age. Some even face it very early. But that doesn’t become their identity. Knowing our health issues is good as we must treat them for a better and healthy life. But that doesn’t become our identity.

We have come across people who are visually/hearing impaired emerging as great keyboard players and Divers.

Why do we call them visually impaired?

Why don’t we call them simply as maestros or beauty pageants?

They are all people with some capability. Then why do we segment them as special needs, differently abled? We are all different and special. Aren’t we?

I have worked with people with capabilities coming from different spectrums, namely, autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, down-syndrome, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, hearing impairment, etc… I have worked on training them in academics and vocational skills. I have trained them in various Higher Secondary Class Subjects-Business Studies, Information Technology, Mass Communication, Painting, Accountancy, Economics and provided training in essential life skills since 2016. With their hard work and persistence, they have emerged as school toppers and are now in pursuit of completing their graduation.  Under Prakramika Institute, our main motive is to empower them and make them independent entrepreneurs. Under one such mission in Oman, we trained a child in making various products like candles, soaps, chocolate bouquets, hand printed apparels, greeting cards and many more and helped setting up his own shop selling his very own products. He suffers from down syndrome, yet now he is known as an entrepreneur.

While working with such people, I understood the pain their parents go through due to being secluded and neglected. They are not taken included in the mainstream schools, are confined to special schools and in later phase they aren’t employed.

When we go to France, we learn French to communicate with people there. Similarly, when we visit states of India, we try to learn regional languages. Likewise, to work with people who have hearing and other difficulties, I learnt sign language and Braille. In 2014, my mother and I had trained around 200 Children with Hearing Difficulties in Yoga. It was a three-month workshop, aiming to assist them improving and maintaining their health, stimulating their focus. I have also worked as scribe for children who have amazing IQ, but due to visual impairment, they find difficulty in writing.

They do have different ways of learning and working. All they need is the right way of teaching and training. One size doesn’t fit all. They have great potential and IQ. We must identify their talents and skills and trigger that. We as teachers, employers, caregivers and members of the society must work on accepting and empowering them.

If the image we see is blur, we check our vision and wear glasses if needed. We don’t blame the scene/image. We correct our vision to see the beauty of the world. Similarly, every person has hidden beauty and talent. We must correct our vision and identify them with their potential and caliber.

While wishing the readers, a happy International Day of Persons with Capabilities, I urge everyone to do their bit to make our society a truly inclusive “Vasudeva Kudumbagam”, as espoused by our Sangam age ancestors from India that we have a sense of belonging to every place and everyone is our own ("Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir"), which is at present depicted in the United Nations Organisation.

Akshaya Narasimhan, an ACCA Affiliate is the Business Architect of Prakramika Institute. She is a certified yoga therapist and special educator. She has been working for people with capabilities in academic and vocational subjects over the past 10 years, with a vision to empower them. Her ambition is bringing an inclusive education and workspace environment.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author.
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December 3, 2020 2:41 pm

Very well put up!