On the Specially Abled

On the Specially Abled
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There are an innumerable people, across the world, and naturally, in our society who, for one reason or other suffer from some form of disability. To be respectful towards these victims of fate, they are referred to as the specially abled. But, alas, generally speaking, apart from idiosyncratic instances, society is discriminatory towards them. Consider the following “examples”. A person who cannot hear properly is derogatorily called as “zor”; a person who has problems in and while speaking is called “ kol” and a person who has a limp is referred to as “long”, all derogatorily. While the act of speech is bad and unethical per se, it becomes worse when consequences follow from terminology and the method of speech employed. The spillover effect and consequences of these derogatory terms or even slurs is that the specially abled are discriminated against on a whole host of domains. Be it while seeking employment, or getting admission in a school or college, or social and cultural matters of import, there is clear cut discrimination against the specially abled. (Even in social spaces , we tend to discriminate). It is high time that this should and must stop. The specially abled people are not the way they are by choice. That is, it no fault of theirs. They too are God’s creation and they must be treated like we expect ourselves to be treated. To take recourse to a bit of a cliché, given that the specially abled are God’s creation, criticizing and demeaning them amounts to the obvious. Moreover, they are part of society and as members of a given set up, they must be accorded fuller life chances, like everyone else. But, for this to happen , an attitudinal shift is required. The name of the game, so to speak, is about perceptions. Once perceptions about the specially abled change and once we review our assumptions about them, there will be a marked difference in terms of our behavior towards them. A caveat is in order here: the specially abled do not need our sympathy for sympathy can be demeaning and patronizing. What they need and perhaps even desire is equal and fair treatment accorded to them in the same manner as is accorded to others. To repeat, this called for an attitudinal shift. It is about time that we do this and make the specially abled feel full , functional and dignified members of society!