A perspective on understanding disability and persons with disabilities

Close up Lonely elderly woman sitting on wheelchair at garden in hospital

A perspective on understanding disability and persons with disabilities

In general, people misunderstand “Impairment” as “Disability”.

Impairment is not disability. An impairment is a dysfunction of a body part partly or fully restricting the person’s ability to perform activities independently.

An impairment in association with the environmental barriers causes disability resulting in restricted participation and limited functional abilities. Disability results from an interaction between a non-inclusive society and individuals. Disability is not about ability or inability: it is about diversity. Doing things differently is an accepted norm. Respect for difference is one of the key principles of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (UNCRPD).

According to UNCRPD:

“Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.

The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society. This indeed is a paradigm shift in our thinking.

Written By : Mr. K. Kempaiah

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