Defeating Disability

January 31, 2020 | Rishabh Bhutani

Martina Navratilova once said, “Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” One may be born with a disability or have picked up in life due to a traumatic event. It is for society to not frown upon them or make fun of such people but to help them get on with their lives. For far too long, people with disabilities have suffered due to stereotypes that have a huge influence in our society. These stereotypes colour the way that people think about a particular group of people.

People with disability are called by various names and ill treated, lose their self-confidence, feel unwanted by society, and are thus made to suffer. But there are other people in the world, people who are trying to make life better. Some better known examples are people who have created the braille script, sign language, walking stick and trained dogs for the blind, crutches & wheelchairs & special gadgets like Jaipur foot which help people with physical disabilities to drive cars.

There are a lot of misconceptions in society, as people believe that the disabled can do very little. For example, people believe that wheelchair users are paralysed and are confined to their chairs. This can be false as some wheelchair users can walk, but their strength may be limited so they use a wheelchair to enable them to cover longer distances. Also some people who use wheelchairs prefer to transfer to more comfortable chairs such as those at their desk or in a restaurant. In fact, employees with disabilities have better attendance rates at offices than their ‘non-disabled’ counterparts.

This article is about ‘Defeating Disability’. It is about the people who have overcome hurdles in their life to publicly and gloriously achieve that society cannot ignore in their lives. Helen Keller the famous American author, the first blind-deaf person to have a Bachelor of Arts degree is an inspiration to the world. Helen Keller said, “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

People all over the globe are defeating disability by overcoming various challenges in life and succeeding in it. Closer home, Mariyappan Thangavelu is an Indian Paralympic high jumper with one stunted leg and most of his lower body paralysed. He represented India in the 2016 summer Paralympic games held in Rio de Janeiro in the men’s high jump T-42 category, winning the gold medal in the finals. He is India’s first Paralympian gold medallist since 2004. Deepa Malik is an Indian athlete who had a spinal tumour and is paralysed below the waist. She is the first Indian woman to win a medal in Paralympic Games and won a Silver medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in the shot put and has also won gold in F-53/54 Javelin event at the para-athletic grand Prix held in 2018.

Stephen Hawking is the English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was the Director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. He is known for his discovery on black holes emits radiation, often called as “Hawking Radiation”. Gripped by a disabling motor neurone disease which manifest in his youth, Stephen Hawking is the poster boy for what can be achieved when you remain undaunted by the challenges that life throws at you. He is among the many people who have demonstrated that the so-called ‘disabled’ can do a more than we can imagine, and make huge contributions to our society. Teri Garr said, “When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter.”

People all over the world are helping people with disabilities to give them the strength to lead a life that is better integrated with society. This is being done by various NGOs and institutions by providing them with social services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, special educators, physical therapy, counselling, vocational therapy and providing them with necessary finance. One such NGO is Amrit Foundation of India which is helping people with challenges like autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and intellectual disability by providing them with information, building knowledge and creating societal awareness about the disability rights.

Jimmy Dean said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” I believe that people have become more sensitive to the disabled and there are strict laws against discriminatory behaviour. I feel in the future people’s attitude will change significantly and those facing the challenges of disability will reach the sky and there will be no boundaries.

About The Author

Rishabh Bhutani is a student pursuing BBA from Maharaja Surajmal Institute, Janakpuri. Rishabh is ambitious and driven and loves to spend time with family and friends. He has worked as an intern at the Amrit Foundation of India.