The world for and of the disabled is changing at a rapid pace and the aspirations as well as expectations of people are also changing as fast. Advances in medical and surgical sciences, breakthroughs in technology, greater understanding of the causes of disability and improved methods of coping with it, increasing consciousness of civil rights and the emergence of people with disabilities displaying skills and knowledge to improve their own lives, are some of the factors which have contributed to the new thinking that the disabled deserve a dignified status in society on the same terms as the abled.
Charity – to – Rights
The human rights movement has boldly and categorically shifted the attention of policy makers from the mere provision of charitable services to vigorously protecting their basic right to dignity and self–respect. In the new scenario, the disabled are viewed as individuals with a wide range of abilities and each one of them willing and capable to utilize his/her potential and talents. Society, on the other hand, is seen as the real cause of the misery of people with disabilities since it continues to put numerous barriers as expressed in education, employment, architecture, transport, health and dozens of other activities.
In a country such as ours, with a large number of people with disability, scarce resources and unhealthy social attitudes, it is legislation alone which could eventually bring about some change. Although legislation cannot alone radically change the fabric of a society in a short span of time, it can nevertheless, increase accessibility of the disabled to education and employment, to public services, to means of transport and communication. The impact of well–directed legislation in the long run would prove liberating.
people with disability in India, as elsewhere, deserved comprehensive legislation to cover all aspects of their lives. They need legal power to directly tackle the blatant, and more importantly, the discreet discrimination against them. The new Act, Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1995 represents the culmination of years of hard work behind the scenes, countless hours of consultation between officials of Ministry of Welfare and of other Ministries and experts/organizations working with and for people with disability, campaigning by disability activists for a better deal for people with disability. The more we discuss the problems of disability and social prejudices with people in India and abroad, the more convinced we have become that even our best endeavors would not be rewarded without laws that make discrimination illegal. The greatest achievement was to convince people, ordinary men and women as well as politicians from all parties, that disability is a civil rights issue and that discrimination against disabled must be recognized and stopped. Civil rights for disabled were seen as too important to be allowed to become the subject of political disagreements.
Human rights are a matter of international concern and their advocates and guardians do exercise constructive influence across geographical and cultural boundaries. An increasing number of countries are opting for laws favorable to people with disability. Legislation would make direct/indirect discrimination against the disabled, punishable. Legislation establishes a coherent and comprehensive framework for the promotion of just and fair policies and their effective implementation. It creates formal procedures which hasten the process of full and total integration of the disabled in the society. Legislation facilitates efficient enforcement of policies and permits strong measures against the law–breakers.