Disabled handicapped for the common man it is the image of a person for whom life is a string of sorrow and despair. But it is not. It is time they shed their notions and believe that it is difficult to bracket or categorise a disabled person from the ablebodied.
Think of Hellen Keller. She showed exemplary detrmination in overcoming her handicap of being blind. She got herself taught in a different way. And later paved the way for the ‘blind’ of the world to educate them through Braille system – a speacial type of printing meant to be learnt by touch. Since the blind have a strong sense of touch it is not difficult for them to learn how to read and write. The gate way to knowlegde for them is an wide open as to any sighted person.
Handicap of any kind can be conqured with determination and iron will. An eminent authority on the subject has said:
‘ Everyone on this earth has one or the other handicap. For some it is economic handicap, while others are handicapped by social norms and traditions. Physically disability should not be the sole criterion to judge a man’s ability or disability. Whatever the handicap, one should have the courage to take it in his stride and move to muster up courage and determination to face it. And fight it also.’
Handicapped people need our cooperation and our mental attitude toward them should be ofrespect and not of sympathy. Disabled do not need sympathy. They need social acceptance as they are.
Nothing torements the mind of a physically handicapped person greater than the ever pitiful looks people cast on them. We must understand that disabled are not totally useless. They are differently able. They have tireless will power to establish them selves inspite of their pronounced physical disability.
Able- bodied members of society should learn to make them feel comfortable and normal, so that they live without any complaint and complex,
Children generally make fun of their handicapped friends and class – fellows. Sometimes they play cruel jokes on them. Should know it hurts them very badly. They feel low on self – esteem. Handicapped people simply resent it. They want total acceptance and co-operation at every level. Rehabilition of a dusabled or infirm person is a team efforts of medical, paramedical, social workers and many specialists at different levels. But the success of entire rehabilition process is directly proportional to the active co-operation put in by the disabled person’s own family. Family support is a must for making them feel their self- worth.
But what is required most urgently, however is a change in social attitudes. We should see the positive side of their existence. A Tv serial named ‘Ongoing’ was telecast on D.D. Metro in july 95. it was produced by one Ms. Juhi Sinha. Each episode depicted the spirit and zeal of a particular disabled individual with which he/she countred his/her disability and today is leading a successful life.
I wanted the disabled people to ne taken outfrom closet to the drawing – room. Emphasis on their abilities rather than disablities has been the theme of each episode,’ said Ms. Sinha when enquired about her interest in the disabled people. She shot the program across the length and breadth of the country covering various disabilites irrespective of sex, age or socio- economic status.
One of the episodes covered the story of Air Force Officer Sh. M.P. anil kumar who received a spinal injury while driving back to the officers’s mess after a night flight. His scooter dashed to a road barrier just ahead of the technical area gate inside Air force station, Pathankot. This accident turned him from ‘Airborne to chair- borne.’
It was a very big blow to the young officer who had earlier been adjudged the Best Air Force Cadet of 65th course of National Defence Academy (N.D.A), khadakwasia and as the best in ‘ Aerobatics’ of 134th pilots course at Air Force Academy. Secundrabad. He was commissioned into IAF as a fighter pilot in December ’84.
They say hope sustains life. After overcoming the initial shock, he realised the harsh reality he will have to live with the rest of his life. He adapted to the new challenges posed by the disability. He decided to learn the art of writing by holding a pen in his mouth, as his hands had become totally dysfunctional. He began by scribbling alphabets. In the beginning his writing was not legible but by and by it improved. Within six months, however, it shaped up in a readable style of writing. One day his joy knew no bounds when he completed the few lines which embodied his first ‘mouth – written letter.
Therefore, he was motivated to learn computers by his former ‘flight commander.’ He wanted him to train himself to write ‘Navigation Programmes for the Indian Air Force for gainful employment.’
Thus, with total social and paramedical support the officers found his second phase of life into somethin as meaningful as he would have had from the confines of a cockpit.
He said, ‘ Believe it or not, every dark cloud has a silver lining.’ There is another programme called ‘ sath- sath’ which highlights the problems of the disabled. Disability can occur to anybody, anytime, anywhere. We should help such a person to come on his own and find a new meaning and purpose in life. Never jeer at any disabled person’s unsteady steps or slow accomplishment of any task which comes naturally to the able- bodied. Appreaciate them. Treat them as your equal. After all, they are differently able. The story of sh. M.P. Anil kumar has shown that even a handicapped person can be a highly productive citizen.