Empathy is okay but change of mindset need of the hour: Humayun Qaiser
By Farooq Shah
SRINAGAR: “People living with disabilities –thanks to the apathy of a normal person –continue to wear the stigma of incapacity and shame even as we’re braving the odds more forcefully than before,” Sameer Wani, a teacher, who is blind in his both eyes, rued at a function organized by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) on the eve of World Disability Day here on Friday.
World Disability Day, known formally as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, or simply Disability Day is observed every December 3 worldwide. The United Nations created the observance in 1992 to promote further compassion and understanding of people with disabilities of all types.
“We can’t and should not latch onto the age-old beliefs and myths about disability,” Wani said. “We need family, a society that understands us more than a community to be pitied upon.”
To mark the event, the Inclusive and Special Education Wing of the SCERT organized a singing and painting competition among the disabled children who, along with their parents, mentors and escort teachers, had assembled in the conference hall of the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) Srinagar.
Earlier, Riyaz Ahmad Baig, JKAS, who is the additional mission director of Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission, said the absence of infrastructure for the disabled has impeded their normal course to success.
“The 3% government reservation for the disabled people won’t actually help as long as the mindset of normal people changes,” Baig said.
In 1982, Beigh lost both of his arms in a freak accident when he touched a high-tension wire near a transformer while playing football. He was barely four then. However, it did not deter him from pursuing his dreams and he went on to qualify the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) in the open merit category in 2004. Known for his meticulous writing, Beigh writes with his toes and lips.
“Education is the only way forward and the only ray of hope for the disabled children,” Beigh remarked. He joined the event via Zoom.
Director SCERT, Prof Veena Pandita, who also joined the program via Zoom from her Jammu office, said the main objective of observing this Day is to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
“In today’s modern era, inclusion and encouragement of people with disability in the routine functioning of our lives is essential for the development of a common accessible and sustainable future,” Prof Pandita said. “It becomes imperative to include everyone in the growth process for a better and sustainable growth of our nation.”
Visually impaired Abrar Ahmad Bhat, who was accompanied by his wife Sheikh Naghma, stressed on the importance of family support for the disabled people.
“Family support helps people to sustain their lives at home and in the community,” Bhat, who works at a bank, said. “My success story is a testimony that it is the family that can bring about a qualitative change in the life of a disabled person.”
He urged the government to let the disabled people use more and more technology to facilitate their movements and aid in other forms of disability.
“While there are some 60 to 70 different languages that ‘OK Google’ supports, we have sought the inclusion of Kashmiri language in the voice assistant,” Bhat said. “Because Braille cannot take us beyond the first university degree, it’s important that we embrace the technology more and more.”
While appreciating SCERT’s idea of holding a painting and singing competition among the disabled children, Ex Director All India Radio, Srinagar, Syed Humayun Qaisar, said it’s important to give a vent to the pent up emotions and creativity of any child more so of a disabled one.
“Painting or singing or any hobby for that matter provides some sort of an outlet for a person to explore his innate and untapped qualities,” Qaiser said. “Nature compensates one form of disability with something extraordinary and if that is located and nurtured at an early age, nothing can stop a person with whatever little or big disability from realizing his dreams.”
The need of the hour, Qaiser said, is to avoid the word ‘disability’ from being repeated too often.