Census to Become Disabled Friendly!

2011 will now be a more interesting year in terms of the Census happening and the population getting to be enumerated in the database. What is being discussed now is who all will be included in the census and what parameters will enumeration include. The disability sector has taken it as the next step to ensuring that the disabled in the country are no more invisible and have a more resounding voice in the matters concerning them. The news rooms have been constantly writing about what NCPEDP the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People an NGO has been doing for the same. As a first step it has got the government to include question related to disability and train the people who will be volunteering for the census process. Very effectively the organisation has been able to bring out how the enumeration process was a regular exercise in the British era and then was lost out! The census in 2001 had only one question and was hugely ineffective in getting the numbers right.
The disability sector has had to fight many a battles to ensure that they are given access to their rights and also at some level given protective discrimination for their growth. What came about with that is guarantees in form of laws and policies which were aimed at providing a growth stimulus for the disabled of the country. It becomes pertinent to note that though the law has been place for the longest time now whether or not it has been effectively implemented has been debated, discussed and brought to the government’s notice repeatedly. The laws though clearly indicate about how children with disabilities should be given inclusive eduaction, workplaces should become more disabled friendly, health facilities should become more readily available for the disabled and plethora of reports and findings by organisations etc stressing on the need to make the spaces around us more disabled friendly , the truth remained that the disabled did not get their due. Umpteen reports and investigations and studies indicated how the diabled were being condemned to a life which was dependent on others help, charity and whims of the abled.
With the enumeration demanded in the up coming census there are people discussing if this will help at all? With the implementing machinery in India always being at its worst its worth asking if it will really help to know how many disabled actually live in the country?
I believe that the numbers being accounted for will have a certain impact on how we look at disability as an issue in the country. Look at how the situation stands now- An access audit done by NCPEDP in colleges in Delhi gave a dismal state of affairs of the accessibility of the colleges. The reason that was glaring in the face is lack of awareness amongst the community. The same stands true for almost all the other sectors like employment etc. Lack of awareness, insensitivity by the abled community, poorly guided schemes are in some sense out comes of a collective voice being easily ignored. The disabled have been un accounted for in the counting of the people and therefore their statistics stand at whatever someone reads or hears from organisations etc. This does have an impact on how the “majority abled community” perceives disability. Enumeration in the census is expected to increase the numbers from the present 2.7% to about 5-6% which in terms of “inclusive” policy formulation and amendment of present laws becomes a big number. Service providance for the diabled and inclusive practices at educational institutes, work places, public places etc is a big problematic issue that has been the topic of discussion for a lot of decades and yet nothing seems to be done . The numbers being changed with the enumeration could mean that there will be acknowledgment of the fact that things have to be changed for the disabled.
Larger numbers always have an impact on the social psyche too. The society that has also been a hurdle in acceptance and mainstreaming of the disabled could become more sensitive by the numbers being brought about and told to the public. The public at large has always been affected when numbers have been portrayed to them in complete ways and the concept of charity and pity can give way to inclusive living and mainstreaming. Advocacy of disabled rights will also get a big leap when the numbers come out right and the community can seek increased grants, funds etc for the realization of rights of the disabled community. It is essential to keep in mind that the allocation of grants, funds, schemes are based upon the official numbers that a community has and therefore for the disabled section to be able to assert for more medical services, more grants for assisted mechanisms the increased correct numbers will hold a real value. Medical research and further technological advancement will also depend on the increased numbers becoming official and a part of notifications and government papers.
The disabled have been fighting for the realisation of their rights for a long time now and the up coming census will be a test for coming through of the campaign. The state’s real effectiveness will be show cased when the people doing the census are sensitised on the question to be asked during the census relating to disability. The state has been on the back foot for too long on the rights of the disabled and the census is that first step forward for this community to move ahead.


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Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

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