Each year, March 15 is observed as the World Disabled Day across the globe. It is not only observed for physical or mental impairments but for all known disabilities – from Asperger Syndrome and Down Syndrome to Multiple Sclerosis and Muscular Dystrophy.
People with disabilities face a lot of problems in terms of adapting to the society, getting equal access to healthcare facilities, educational institutions, public areas, among others. Apart from being deprived of basic services, most of them live in isolation, neglected conditions, segregation, penury and pity.
The day intends to create public awareness about the various types of impairments as well as understand people with impairments and celebrate their contributions and achievements.
As per World Health Organization, nearly 15% of the world’s population, over 1 billion people, have some form of impairment. Moreover, the rate of people with disabilities is increasing due to ageing population and chronic health conditions.
How many differently abled are there in Odisha?
Out of its total population of 42 million, Odisha has 1.2 million differently abled people, of them:
- 21.2% are visually impaired
- 20.9% are movement impaired
- 19.1% are hearing impaired
- 5.5% are speech impaired
- 5.8% are mentally retarded
- 3.4% have mental illness
- 10.1% have multiple disability
- 13.9% have any other forms of disability
Various Government Initiatives and Schemes for Differently Abled People
The Central Government has launched various initiatives and schemes for differently abled people. Some of them are listed below:
Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS): The scheme is launched to provide financial assistance and a respectful life to severe and multi differently abled people, in the age group 18 to 79 years, who are living below the poverty line.
The National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC): The scheme is intended to provide concessional credit to differently abled people and make them self-employed through various income generating activities.
Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS): Under this scheme, financial assistance is given through NGOs for several projects imparting education, training and support to differently abled people.
Saksham Scholarship Scheme for Student with Disabilities: This is a MHRD scholarship scheme implemented by AICTE to the student with disabilities in technical education.
Composite Regional Centres for Persons with Disabilities (CRCs): It is an initiative Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which aims to assist people with various disabilities.
District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs): The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has opened such centres in rural areas to facilitate comprehensive services to differently abled people.
Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan (or Accessible India Campaign): This aims to achieve universal accessibility for differently abled persons and to create a barrier free environment.
Trust Fund for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities: Under this, funds are released to National Trust to enable differently abled people develop skills and create livelihood.
The government has also launched a National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities to award individuals, organizations, institutions, districts and states for their endeavours and achievements towards empowering differently abled persons.
There are many more initiatives for differently abled people.
Disability is no barrier for the strong-willed. There are numerous people who have succeeded despite their disability. A great example is the noted poet and saint Bhima Bhoi, who wrote several poems despite his blindness and founded the Alekha sect.