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Learning Disability: Things we need to know

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.

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