Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The World "Handicapped" is banned in Haryana

Dear Colleagues,

In the recent past Govt. of Haryana  initiated a network of social infrastructure in every district that includes old age homes, special accessible school infrastructure for four major disabilities to include persons with disabilities in the mainstream. Several quarters who advocated inclusion in all spheres of life including education etc were quite critical of this step while the State Government's decision was more in line with providing better infrastructure in specialized and state of the art institutions which could become pivotal institutions to empower the disabled people to inclusion. In addition to this, other educational institutions are also being made inclusive.

Now in yet another positive step towards a rights based and inclusive society where marginalized segments are accorded full respect and dignity, it has come out with an official announcement banning the usage of the word "Handicapped" in the State since it violated and undermined the dignity of persons with disabilities. Not only  that, it went on to even discourage the world "differently abled" since this focuses on differential dimension hence not inclusive. This is a very positive step and the officials responsible for this remarkable step must be congratulated. 

The larger issue is now to implement this and I am sure State had already done its bit to a good extent by highlighting this in the media and through various means so that the state machinery at all levels understand the "persons first approach" or People-First Language.

As per Wiktionary the word  "Handicap" means-  An allowance of a certain amount of time or distance in starting, granted in a race (or other contest of skill) to the competitor possessing disadvantages; or an additional weight or other hindrance imposed upon the one possessing advantages, in order to equalize, as much as possible, the chances of success.  Eg. 

  • The older boy won, even though his opponent had been granted a handicap of five meters.
  • A handicap in chess often involves removal of the queen's rook.
It also means a race, for horses or men, or any contest of agility, strength, or skill, in which there is an allowance of time, distance, weight, or other advantage, to equalize the chances of the competitors.

Thus,  person may have a disability  and not handicaps and it is derogatory to refer to an individual with the a noun "handicapped".  This announcement is in line with Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which is reproduced below:

Article 8 - Awareness-raising
1. States Parties undertake to adopt immediate, effective and appropriate measures:
  1. To raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding persons with disabilities, and to foster respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities;
  2. To combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to persons with disabilities, including those based on sex and age, in all areas of life;
  3. To promote awareness of the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities.
Measures to this end include:
  1. Initiating and maintaining effective public awareness campaigns designed:
    1. To nurture receptiveness to the rights of persons with disabilities;
    2. To promote positive perceptions and greater social awareness towards persons with disabilities;
    3. To promote recognition of the skills, merits and abilities of persons with disabilities, and of their contributions to the workplace and the labour market;
  2. Fostering at all levels of the education system, including in all children from an early age, an attitude of respect for the rights of persons with disabilities;
  3. Encouraging all organs of the media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with the purpose of the present Convention;
  4. Promoting awareness-training programmes regarding persons with disabilities and the rights of persons with disabilities.

Here is the news coverage of the announcement in Indian Express:


Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 

Chandigarh: Haryana government has banned the use of expression 'handicapped' saying it violates and undermines the dignity of persons with disability. 

An official spokesman said the expression 'handicapped' was against the spirit of the Constitution, the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India was also a state party. 

He said the use of such other expressions as 'differently abled' would also be discouraged as such an expression harps more on the differentiality dimension whereas there was a need to promote equality dimension. 

Wherever such description was both necessary and relevant, such persons would be described as persons with disability or as persons with blindness, persons with speech and hearing impairment or persons with locomotor disability. 

He said national institutes like National Institute for the Visually Handicapped and National Institute for Hearing Handicapped should also be renamed appropriately. 

PTI 

2 comments:

Smiling Assassin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smiling Assassin said...

The news is misleading. Haryana has not banned the expression 'handicapped' rather its CCD's order. The state commission of disability at Chandigarh had people with zero knowledge of disability rights so they cant even think this far. I am from HARYANA and very well know the situation there.
Dr Satendra Singh
Coordinator, Enabling Unit, UCMS & GTBH