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Physically Challenged

A person is considered ‘handicapped’ or ‘physically challenged’ when he is not an ordinary person with all limbs. A disabled person is one who suffers from the loss or impairment of a limp or deformity in physical or mental capability whether due to nature’s foul play or an unexpected unfortunate accident. Disabled persons are of two types. (i) Physically handicapped (ii) Mentally ill. The condition of disability may arise by birth or in accident. Polio, blindness, deafness, dumbness and mental illness may occur by birth or by other incidents or due to ill health.

Handicappedness is measured by medical persons in various degrees while they give certificate to the handicapped person.

It is estimated that about twelve millions Indians about 1.8 per cent of Indian population have at least one disability or the other. About 10 per cent of the handicapped are having more than one type of physical disability. There is growing awareness both in the Government and society about the need to reach out to the disabled people to enable them to become self-sufficient and independent.

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The Word “DISABILITY” implies

Inability to function normally, physically or mentally; incapacity. 2. Anything that causes disability.

As defined by the Federal Government: “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to last or has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) rehabilitation guidelines, “impairment of an individual as it affects his or her role in life, such as an inability to work because of a health condition.

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The United Nations uses a definition of disability as: Impairment: Any loss of abnormality of psychological or anatomical structure or function. Disability: 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: A disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or disability, that limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role that is normal, depending on age, sex, social and cultural factors, for that individual. Handicap is therefore a function of the relationship between disabled persons and their environment. It occurs when they encounter cultural, physical or social barriers which prevent their access to the various systems of society that are available to other citizens. Thus, handicap is the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the life of the community on an equal level with others.

IN INDIA According to THE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (Equal Opportunities, protection Of Rights And Full Participation) ACT, 1995

“PERSON WITH DISABILITY” means a person suffering from not less than forty per cent of any disability as certified by a medical authority;

“DISABILITY” means i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. blindness; low vision; leprosy-cured; hearing impairment; locomotive disability; mental retardation; mental illness;

“blindness” refers to a condition where a person suffers from any of the following conditions, namely:a. total absence of sight; or b. visual acuity not exceeding 6/60 or 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses; or c. Limitation of the field of vision subtending an angle of 20 degree or worse.

“person with low vision” means a person with impairment of visual functioning even after treatment or standard refractive correction but who uses or is potentially capable of using vision for the planning or execution of a task with appropriate assistive device.

“Leprosy cured person” means any person who has been cured of leprosy but is suffering from a. loss of sensation in hands or feet as well as loss of sensation and paresis in the eye and eye-lid but with no manifest deformity; b. manifest deformity and paresis but having sufficient mobility in their hands and feet to enable them to engage in normal economic activity; c. extreme physical deformity as well as advanced age which prevents him from undertaking any gainful occupation, and the expression “leprosy cured” shall be construed accordingly;

“Hearing impairment” means loss of sixty decibels or more in the better ear in the conversational range of frequencies.

“locomotive disability” means disability of the bones, joints or muscles leading to substantial restriction of the movement of the limbs or any form of cerebral palsy.

“Mental illness” means any mental disorder other than mental retardation;

“Mental retardation” means a condition of arrested or incomplete development of mind of a person which is specially characterized by sub normality of intelligence.


Physically handicapped persons like blind & insane persons cannot go from place to place alone and they require personal assistance. (2) They require medical assistance to face their challenges and to undergo major operations and treatment. (3) They cannot stand in Q along with other persons. (4) They cannot compete with other persons to secure seats in educational institutions and employment. (5) They cannot earn their livelihood due to unemployment.


Defining Disability In India, different definitions of disability are introduced for various purposes and, as such, they have been based on various criteria. No single standard exists in India in order to evaluate disability. In common parlance, different terms such as disabled, handicapped, crippled, physically challenged are used inter-changeably. Census of India 2001 document mentioned “Defining and measuring disability is a complex issue and it is not easy to communicate these concepts during the census process, in which only a limited amount of questioning time is possible to be spent with a household for obtaining detailed information on every individual.” With regard to definitions adopted by PWD Act Census of India stated “the concepts and definitions of disabilities coupled with measuring its extent and its types contained in the PWD Act, 1995 were found to be extremely difficult to canvass even in normal circumstances assuming people had time, were willing and forthcoming to share this information and there was an expert investigator to elicit this information.”

Census therefore used its own version of definitions of disabilities Census of India defines five types of disabilities viz. seeing, speech, hearing, movement, and mental. Seeing disability includes a person who cannot see at all (has no perception of light) or has blurred vision even with the help of spectacles will be treated as visually disabled. A person with proper vision only in one eye will also be treated as visually disabled. Where a person may have blurred vision and had no occasion to test whether her/his eyesight would improve by using spectacles. Such persons would be treated as visually disabled. Speech disabled means a person will be recorded as having speech disability, if she/he is dumb.

Similarly persons whose speech is not understood by a listener of normal comprehension and hearing, she/he will be considered to having speech disability. Persons who stammer but whose speech is comprehensible will not be classified as disabled by speech. Hearing disability includes a person who cannot hear at all (deaf), or can hear only loud sounds will be considered as having hearing disability. A person who is able to hear, using hearing aid will not be considered as disabled under this category. If a person cannot hear through one ear but her/his other ear is functioning normally, should be considered having hearing disability. A person, who lacks limbs or is unable to use the limbs normally, will be considered having movement disability. Absence of a part of a limb like a finger or a toe will not be considered as disability.

However, absence of all the fingers or toes or a thumb will make a person disabled by movement. If any part of the body is deformed, the person will also be treated as disabled and covered under this category. A person, who cannot move herself/himself without the aid of another person or without the aid of stick, etc., will be treated as disabled. Similarly, a person would be treated as disabled in movement if she/he is unable to move or lift or pick up any small article placed near her/him.

A person may not be able to move normally because of problems of joints like arthritis and has to invariable limp while moving, will also be considered to have movement disability. A person who lacks comprehension appropriate to her/his age will be considered as mentally disabled. This would not mean that if a person is not able to comprehend her/his studies appropriate to her/his age and is failing to qualify her/his examination is mentally disabled. Mentally retarded and insane persons would be treated as mentally disabled. A mentally disabled person may generally depend on her/his family members for performing daily routine.

Types of Disabilities

Census of India 2001 identified five types of disabilities as defined above. Statistics shows total number of disabled in India at 21,906,769 which constitute more than 2 percent of total population. Disabled in India by types of Disabilities Types of Disabilities Number of Disabled Percentage Seeing Speech Hearing Movement Mental Total 10634881 1640868 1261722 6105477 2263821 21906769 48.55 7.49 5.76 27.87 10.33 100.00

Source: Census of India 2001 This proportion is lower than estimates of World Health Organization and United Nations according to which around 10 percent of population in underdeveloped and developing countries are disabled. Classification of disabled in India shows that nearly half total disabled are having seeing disabilities (48.55 percent) followed by movement disabilities (27.87 percent). Ten percent of total disabled are mentally disabled.

Disability in Various Dimensions

Disabilities by Sex The classification of disabled in different categories by sex shows higher rate of prevalence of disabilities among males as compared to females, especially in the case of movement and mental disabilities the proportion of male is much higher as compared to females.

Disabilities by Residence Classification of disabled by residence shows that majority of disabled are living in the rural areas. 81.07 percent of people with hearing disabilities, 76.24 percent with movement disabilities, and 75.80 percent with speech disabilities reside in rural areas. Lack of medical facilities, large family size, concentration of medical facilities in urban localities, etc. are the major reasons for this trend. The paradoxical situation here is concentration of organizations working for disabled in urban centers.

Disability and Literacy Education is very important for all, especially for disabled. Education provides opportunities for employment and advancement. According to Census of 2001, 1. Literacy level is high among movement disabled as compared to other categories. This is due to the reason that they face only one barrier i.e. mobility in education and they can easily be incorporated in regular school. Neither special teacher nor special books and other facilities are needed for them. Movement barriers can easily be removed by creating ramps in schools. 2. Literacy level is higher in urban areas as compared to rural areas because most of the educational institutions, especially special schools for disabled, are located in urban centers.

Non-governmental organizations working for education of disabled are also located in urban centers. 3. Literacy level is low among disabled females as compared to their male counterpart. Lowest literacy rate is observed among rural disabled female. The reason for this kind of trend lies in the social mind setup, especially rural areas, where education among girls is not given important especially if she is disabled. Parents generally hesitate and also worried to send their disabled girls to schools. 4. Among different categories of disabilities, literacy rate is lowest among peoples with mental disabilities because of lack of sufficient educational facilities such as special schools and special teachers for mentally challenged.

Disability and Work Work is defined by census 2001 as participation in any economically productive activity. Work may be physical or mental in nature. It involves not only actual work but also effective supervision and direction of work. Work may be paid or unpaid. According to above definition any persons engaged in economic activity whether paid or unpaid is called worker. Disabled people are also classified as worker and non-workers.

Work Participation Rate Work Participation rate is percentage of workers to total population. According to Census of 2001, 1. Total work participation rate among disabled is 34.49 percent, 44.81 and 29.55 percent among males and females respectively. 2. Work participation rate is low among females as compared to males and in urban areas as compared to rural areas. High work participation rate in rural areas are due to the fact that agriculture, which is the main occupation in rural areas has a capacity to absorb large chunk of disabled both educated and uneducated. 3. Lowest work participation rate is observed among urban disabled females.

One reason for this is that employment opportunities in urban area are male dominated and favors the educated. Low education level among females is main constraint in their employment. 4. Among different categories of disabled, work participation rate is lowest among people with mental disabilities. Lack of education and employment opportunities for mentally disabled along with negative attitude of the employer to employ mentally disabled are reasons for this trend.

Current issues and debates surrounding disability include social and political rights, social inclusion and citizenship. In developed countries, the debate has moved beyond a concern about the perceived cost of maintaining dependent people with disabilities to an effort of finding effective ways to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in and contribute to society in all spheres of life. Many are concerned, however, that the greatest need is in developing nations—where the vast bulk of the estimated 650 million people with disabilities reside. A great deal of work is needed to address concerns ranging from accessibility and education to self-empowerment and self-supporting employment and beyond. However obstacles reside in some countries in getting full employment, also public perception of disabled people may vary in areas.

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Physically Challenged. (2016, Dec 19). Retrieved from

Physically Challenged

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