A differently-abled world

Not everyone in this world can see, hear and talk like a normal human being. These people are called physically handicapped. Others include those who have lost their limbs or have malformed bodies. Then there are mental challenged people too.

We have now started to adopt better and more respectful terms to indicate their handicap – physically/mentally ‘challenged’ and differently ‘abled’. But does this help? By referring to them as differently ‘abled’ we are separating them from our world. This is the reason they find it physically and mentally ‘challenging’ living a normal life. What can we do to make this a better world for them?

We need to have more patience and time with mentally challenged people. Same is the case with physically challenged people. In addition they also need physical help every time they need abilities beyond their current ability.

Yes, handicapped people are differently ‘abled’. They can do everything, just differently. A blind can read and write, but for whom? We have maps on phones to show us any address we can think of. Blind people do not even have means to store and retrieve name and addresses other than their own memory. A deaf and dumb can both speak and listen, but with whom and to whom? Deaf and dumb have a well-developed communication system – sign language. But they can’t comfortably communicate with other people.

For blind people, we can slow down our busy life to help them find their way. They can read and write in Braille script. In addition there is technology to their help, but they need to be cheap. There is Speech Recognition Software which can help them communicate with computer systems better, but it has a long way to go.

For the deaf and dumb, technology can help with cheap video calling, so they can communicate with sign language using normal mobile phones and computer system.

We learn foreign languages, programming languages and every other skill we can. Employees are provided workshops, seminars and courses to improve their performance and morale. If you have even one person who is blind or deaf and dumb at your work place it is worth learning Braille and sign language by everyone.

Braille and sign language took a long time developing and being accepted by the blind and deaf and dumb. But it never went beyond their community. Efforts should have been made long back for teaching and learning them by everyone for it to be really effective.

For effective learning of Braille and sign language they must be taught in school right from kindergarten. This way the blind and deaf and dumb can study with normal students as both the teachers and students can speak and understand their language. They can also have better higher education and wider career options in same institutions as other students.

Mind can matter and we can make this a better world for the differently ‘abled’. We must remember that the problem is not with them, but with us that we are unable to communicate with them.



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