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“The disability is not the problem. The accessibility is the problem.”
– Mohamed Jemmi
This 15th August, India will celebrate its 74th year of Independence Day. Everyone will definitely have their own notion regarding this concept about Independence. Today I am going to pen down my point of view about Independence.
Keeping women independence and child education side, I want to share a totally different topic of independence of our children with special needs.

At first, we should know what Independence is. The definition of independent is someone or something that is free from the influence or control of another i.e. someone who lives their own and supports themselves.
The World Health Organization estimates that one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. One 5th of these, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.

PWD act (1995) was passed by the Government, where 7 types of disabilities are listed, which was passed for equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of the person with disabilities. Then in 2016 Parliament passed RPWD Bill where 21 types of disabilities are included instead of 7 disabilities. But really? Are they getting their free and fair opportunities? Can they walk freely in our society? Answer is big ‘NO’. Despite of several laws, they are not independent and free. Persons with disabilities are considered as burdens and they are segregated by our so-called society. In 1964-1966, Education Commission, think about their education, 1st segregated school was in Mumbai and 2nd was in our Kolkata (Calcutta deaf and dumb school). Then integration and at last inclusive education began. According to the law, all kinds of children with special needs can take admission in any schools. As per inclusion, they can learn everything with non disabled children and can grow up in normal environment. But due to ignorance, they don’t get proper education in schools. So sometimes they can’t stand on their own legs. So high unemployment numbers are one of the main barriers for them. They can’t choice any career option that they want to do because of the society barriers. They don’t get any deserving jobs for the ignorance and segregation.

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Mental illness of our society is another big remarkable barrier. They can’t walk freely in roads. Some people stare at them continuously and poke them with various names, so they feel uncomfortable and think that they are hopeless.

Tolerance crosses all boundaries when we get to know the news of Chennai,2018, a 11years old hearing-impaired girl was allegedly sexually assaulted several times over 7 months by 17 people, a charge sheet was filed against them.

One another case in Hyderabad, when police arrested 4 persons for allegedly raping a 12 years old mentally disabled girl.

Another rape case can stimulate your nerves with anger, taking advantage of an innocent 14 years old mentally disabled girl, a 70 years old man allegedly raped her at Kistaipally village in Bollaram for the last 6 months. Her parents took her to a hospital when she fell ill, only to learn that she was pregnant.

It is the real face of our dirty society. Now say, when will they get freedom? There is a big question. Answer is not known. Until, the cruel mentality of our society does not change, freedom word is meaningless for the innocent blossoms. Actually, we are disabled that we can’t understand themselves, we can’t communicate with them. As an example, we have to know sign language to communicate with the hearing-impaired people easily. But we don’t, so its our fault why we can’t communicate with them.

The philosophy of Independent living holds as its axiom that disabled individuals are themselves better at assessing their needs than anyone else. This is a form of disability empowerment. To be able to direct their lives, such people with disabilities must organize so that they will have the political power to promote solutions for their dignity and voice. Among the ways that they can be empowered are with self-representation and deinstitutionalization. With the empowerment that more independence affords them, disabled people can attain a sense of autonomy. It provided the ability to participate in society without barriers. These individuals can have normalcy, a condition that allows them to attain a sense of pride and freedom and control over their lives. The Individual living approach affords individuals with disabilities the opportunities for personal choices and the benefits of technology that can assist in their Independence. With this independence, such disabled persons have enhanced pride in themselves. Like others, they are individuals with personal desires, and by having more independence, they can better fulfil their yearnings. Most importantly, with this approach, disabled people have many of the same opportunities that non-disabled people do. This approach allows these disabled individuals to live with equal opportunities and thrive within their own terms and conditions.
Russ Ewell gave us this huge report about Independent living approach which is too much useful and essential for the people with special needs.
So, at first have to change the mentality of our society, then they’ll get freedom.

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“It’s time we take our focus off disabilities, and place it on capabilities, so we can see the person first.”
– Robert M. Hensel

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