SJW | Day 7: Social Justice and Persons with Disabilities

Speaking from the lens of people who face marginalization at multiple levels, Kiran, who identifies as a trans man from an Adivasi community in Karnataka, and a person living with a disability, explain how being a trans* person functions as a social disability. When living with a physical or other disability, it is an additional challenge.

It is necessary to have access to all kinds of rights, not pity, charity, alms, but the right to education, food, to self-determine one’s gender. But many times people don’t even have the money to pay rent. The lack of secure livelihoods and social security, life in the trans community is precarious and this needs to be addressed. One needs to be able to decide one’s life. How can those who are not trans* decide the lives of trans* people?

Pavan Muntha explains in brief the shifts of the state in addressing the demands of persons with disabilities, looking at changes in law which moved towards international standards. At the same time, there are changes brought in by the speed of privatization, which also have implications on the kind of reservations for persons with disabilities which are in place.

He also emphasized the connections between the struggle for rights for persons with disabilities, and the the other movements and struggles for social justice happening at the moment, and the need to see them in interconnected ways.

Shivangi begins their presentation by reminding everyone of the slogan ‘nothing about us without us’, which is relevant across different movement, but also particularly relevant for the disability movement. The other aspect that is significant is interdependence, and the ability to see interdependence and no independence as a goal.

They also explain the need to acknowledge and make space within medical practice and within the legal models, for self-determination for people who live with disabilities and ensure that people are involved in policy-making. Further they emphasize intersectionality in understanding and addressing living with disabilities.

Rashmi discusses the National Education Policy in relation to the Right to Education Act (2009). The NEP does not state explicitly measures to be taken to include children with disabilities into mainstream education, nor does it look at special education, for the children for whom this is the only option.

Early childhood care and education cannot be implemented in 6 months to 1 year to a child with disability, ensuring that they are at part with other children.

There is a missing concern for accessibility, along with other loopholes in the NEP.

“Few discussions have taken place about children with visual challenges and their parents, when it comes to dealing with Covid 19. The pandemic impacted their education in the worst way possible.

“Visually challenged people’s lives revolve around touch to recognize things and their mobility. In elementary education, they are taught to recognize things and they are taught reading and writing Braille with the help of touch. Teachers are supposed to give special attention to individual students at the elementary level. The lockdown led to a shift of education online but for children with disability, that was not possible.”

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