Thursday April 2, 2020

Learning Disability: Things we need to know

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Does India understand the concept of disability, or more so, the specific types? The concept of disability differs from society to society. Although, India is progressing in this path but the question is whether or not it has the right trajectory in its mind?

“The problem is not how to wipe out the differences but how to unite with the differences intact.” – Rabindranath Tagore

And these variations and diversities of the issue are exactly what the Indian society, as well as the government, needs to understand. Disability is not restricted to just the physical or mental aspect of it, rather it has a wider spectrum as it segments or branches out.

Although, all of these disability issues need to be given prime importance but some are forgotten or overshadowed by the more prevalent concerns. One of them being the ‘Learning Disability’ which is often thrown in the backyard of the legislative amendments or the societal concern and even by the advocates of the disability rights.

Today, December 3, is observed as the “Persons with Disabilities Day”. However, how much do we know about the concept of disability or do we even understand that there is a difference between it and the model of handicapped or impaired, is a question to be asked.

Impairment is any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function.

Disability is any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.

Handicap is a disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or a disability that limits or prevents the fulfilment of a role that is normal (depending on age, sex and social and cultural factors) for that individual.

One of the things evidently realized by the authorities and society is that the education of a person with a disability of any kind is very crucial for their development and independent life.

Therefore, it has also experienced great transformation aimed at enabling an independent life for such people. Education has become a fundamental right of every child in India and that has led to the biggest front foot in the direction of their (persons with disability) empowerment.

Although, it appears to be a great decision, however, for certain sections of disables it is the biggest flaw in serving as the Right to Education is provided, but not tweaked according to their needs.

People with learning disability (LD) have a comparatively poor academic performance in school. LD is a developmental disorder that usually becomes evident during the period of primary to secondary education. Though it is not restricted to that time frame only.

This is a ‘perinatal problem’ which consists of a certain neurological conditions, known to be associated with LD; however, genetic predisposition seems to be the most probable etiological factors. Evaluation of a child suspected to be having LD consists of a medical examination as well as a vision and hearing test analysis of school performance.

To diagnose such student, a perimeter is available which estimates their problem by an education testing. Although, it can be helped or aided for improvement with Individualized Remedial Education Plan (IEP). With the help of a planned strategy, most children learn to cope up with disability and get integrated into a regular stream. But this disability doesn’t stop here, it pertains even in higher education students.

It’s a lifelong process of development which heals itself day after day.  

A study conducted by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People revealed shocking facts of discrimination against those with disabilities. A survey under the study showed 89 schools across the country had a mere 0.5 percent of the total number of students with disabilities.

Eighteen schools questioned during the survey accepted that they did not admit students with disabilities. Twenty percent of the schools were not even aware of the 1995 Disability Act at all.

“The Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.) syllabus doesn’t have enough information on disabilities. There is a section on special education, but nothing on inclusion,” said Koshi a central university student working in the field. As a result, teachers are, at times, shockingly uninformed about children with disabilities. There is a lack of awareness among teachers and professors about LD.

These students have no less capability to understand or acquire knowledge as compared to others rather they qualify for this status if they have an unexpectedly high IQ score.

People with LD don’t come across as being one quite easily until their educational history is brought under attention. Thus, special attention ought to be given to them as they are under constant stress to figure out the dividing line between the socially standardised intellectual students and the not so intellectual ones.

The India government definitely has certain provisions for LD students, but they, at large, fail to be revised and implemented as they fall on the back foot of the disabled category. The LD students are not obvious in nature and have integrated issues, but they remain to be disabled if not in the socially obvious manner.

Next Story

Nothing can Stop Disabled Yemenis Women from Participating in Women’s Wheelchair Basketball

Yemen's Women With Disabilities Seek Inclusion Through Wheelchair Basketball

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YEMEN-BASKETBALL
Disabled Yemeni women take part in a local wheelchair basketball championship in Yemen's capital Sanaa. VOA

By Nisan Ahmado

Living through years of Yemen’s devastating war has been a constant struggle for Afaf Mohammed al-Adwar, who uses a wheelchair because of congenital spinal damage.

But she is now determined to demonstrate her ability to cope by participating in a women’s wheelchair basketball championship.

The 16-year-old sportswoman joined dozens of other girls and women with mobility impairment in a wheelchair basketball tournament that was held in Sanaa this month.

She told VOA that her participation was “the first step” toward showing the plight of Yemen’s women and girls with disabilities during four years of civil war between the government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

“We are trying to show people that we are not just disabled, but we are able to do whatever we aspire to,” al-Adwar said.

She said that women and girls with disabilities in Yemen are on the margins of society, excluded from basic humanitarian assistance, while at the same time facing gender-based discrimination.

“The society frowns upon letting girls leave their houses, let alone allowing them to play sports. It was hard for my family at first to let me play, but when they saw me in the games, they started encouraging and supporting me,” she told VOA, adding that she was grateful to be a part of an attempt to change the common mentality of a rather conservative society going through conflict.

Women basketball
Yemeni women are now determined to demonstrate their ability to cope by participating in a women’s wheelchair basketball championship. VOA

Five-team competition

Five teams competed in a weeklong championship that started on December 7 and was sponsored by the Red Cross and other organizations in Yemen working to benefit people with disabilities.

The winners will compete in a regional championship next year in Beirut.

Al-Adwar’s team, al-Tahadi Organization for Supporting Women with Disabilities, came in fourth place and received a special award for their “sport spirit.”

Jihad Hammoud Ahmed Jaber, a spokesperson for the al-Tahadi Organization, told VOA such activities will empower girls and women with disabilities to become active members of their communities. At the same time, they will help change societal perceptions by creating a more inclusive atmosphere for everyone.

“The goal of having a women’s basketball championship was to make the women get out from their isolation, especially amid the ongoing war in the country,” Jaber said. “Those who didn’t allow their daughters to play a sport, we wanted to show them how this can help their daughters physically and mentally and how it can give their daughters strength and empowerment.”

The conflict in Yemen escalated after Iran-backed Houthis overran Sanaa in September 2014. In 2015, the conflict turned into a proxy war when an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a military and economic campaign against the Houthis.

The United Nations calls the situation in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It has warned that people with disabilities are the country’s most vulnerable, facing immense hardship to get much medical aid or to move from battlefield zones to safer refuges.

Most excluded 

Rights group Amnesty International estimates that the devastating conflict has left 4.5 million Yemenis, or 15% of the country’s population, with some form of disability.  In a 50-page report published this month, the organization concluded that the conflict has limited health services for Yemenis with disabilities and taken away their rights to education and employment opportunities, while adding risks from violence and living in displacement.

It said some people with disabilities were separated from their families and left behind as people fled war “because the trip was too difficult for the person with a disability to undertake.”

Also Read- 2019 Was a Year of Climate Change Activism

“Yemen’s war has been characterized by unlawful bombings, displacement and a dearth of basic services, leaving many struggling to survive. The humanitarian response is overstretched, but people with disabilities — who are already among those most at risk in armed conflict — should not face even greater challenges in accessing essential aid,” said Rawya Rageh, the group’s crisis adviser.  (VOA)