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We are one among the community...   

          Disability is something natural.  It can happen to anybody. People may born with impairments or there will always be accidents and illnesses which cause impairment. Nothing can be done by a person with disability to get rid of the social causes. However governments and communities can help them to be inclusive, especially for women with disability.

          In a patriarchal society women are seen as second gender and have less opportunities than men. In the case of women with disability the discrimination is double, as a woman and one with disability. Thus they have fewer resources and choices in a community. Accessibility plays a major role in the life of women with disability for being inclusive.


          Accessibility can be viewed as the “ability to access” and benefit from some system or entity. In order to address accessibility properly, understanding its barriers is imperative. Barriers to access are conditions or obstacles that prevent individuals with disabilities from using or accessing knowledge and resources as effectively as individuals without disabilities.


Common types of barriers include:

  • Physical: Conditions in any structural environment that prevent or impede an individual with a disability from efficiently navigating the setting

  • Media format & Technology: Information that is not available in a readable format for individuals with disabilities. Software, electronic, or physical technologies that are not adaptable for use with assistive devices.

  • Systemic/Policy: Procedures, protocols, or policies that place undue burdens on individuals with disabilities

  • Perception: False expectations that individuals with disabilities are unable to contribute as much as their peers who have no disabilities.


Physical barriers

Lack of accessibility caused by the physical environment is a serious barrier for women with disability to reach out independently.  


No ramps.. no handrails, elevators or lifts.. only stairs..How can I get into the building?

She must learn to wear leg braces, or use crutches, or have someone carry her because such facilities won't be available everywhere.


It is not her disability, but the physical barriers that make it impossible for her to get into the building. If there was a ramp, she could roll her wheelchair into the building without anybody's help.

Many women with disabilities face barriers in using community facilities, banks, or hospitals because most buildings have no ramps, handrails, elevators, or lifts. Along with this there are no proper transportation facilities, wheel chair friendly lifts, elevators, toilets or public roads. Other than this they have to with stand physical and sexual abuses from the public. These physical barriers make it difficult for women with disabilities to move around by themselves. When women are stopped by these barriers,they confine themselves in their home and are often unable to get good food, enough exercise, or the health care they need. Mostly they fail to be themselves.

Media format / Technology Barrier

A major challenge around digital accessibility concerns the present inability of technology to cover the diverse types of disabilities. While perceptual disabilities (i.e., those involving vision and hearing limitations) and physical disabilities (i.e., those involving limitations of use of limbs as well as speech) have been the focus of accessibility solutions, cognitive disabilities have proven difficult to address. For example, screen readers can help persons who have visual limitations and captioning of videos can help persons who have hearing limitations. Similarly, certain types of keyboards and other hardware devices can help persons who have physical limitations.


However, in case of cognitive impairments such as Down syndrome or Alzheimer’s disease, technology is yet unhelpful and needs to be attended to. Technology products and services specifically crafted for use by persons with disabilities are expensive to make and difficult to afford by those with limited incomes.

Systemic /Policy Barrier

Most of the people with disability and their caretakers are unaware of the existing laws and regulations, especially for the enhancement of accessibility to persons with disability. Lots of policies and procedures are available for women with disabilities, but fails to reach the deserving hands.


Communities are not yet ready to accept women with disabilities with their abilities. People often view person with disability as a liability, and as less than human. They think, those people are childlike, dependent and passive. Some believes that anybody who is ‘different’ should be excluded, mocked and criticized because they are bad omen or will bring bad luck. Misconception in relation with marriage, pregnancy, motherhood etc., takes off the real life of women with disability. Women with disabilities are often abused, or forced to become beggars or do sex work for a living.. 

Lets think for a change..Women with disability should be provided with proper:


Gender discrimination, like all other levels, can be seen in the case of education of women with disability. Education is essential for everyone and it plays a vital role in the life of girls with disabilities. In our society, if girls with disability are not able to go to school and get an education, they may end up begging to survive when they are adults. Girls with disability have fewer opportunities to go to school than boys with disability. As a result, they are less able to get jobs, to take control of their own lives, and to take an active participation in the life of their communities. Through education, girls with disabilities can support and enrich their family and thus the communities. So family is the first one to think about providing education for the women with disability.


I cannot see.. so it's hard to

Community-based group can arrange opportunities for early childhood education, including education in sign language, Braille or audio cassettes for girls who are deaf or blind and also access government grants.


As a community, how can we work for our educational rights? 


 Community-based groups can discuss problems and encourage everyone including other children to welcome and respect girls with disabilities. Arrange awareness programs and career development programs specially for women with disability.

Community should provide all the infrastructure like proper transportation, classroom facilities, availability of special teachers etc., for the education of women with disability. They should arrest the attention of the government for new policies to better the education of women with disabilities.   


Economic independence is one of the pathways towards true empowerment. Women in general, face greater discrimination and for women with disabilities, this discrimination is far greater. In situations where there is high unemployment, opportunities for remunerative work tend to be severely limited.  Even where disabled women have jobs, they were systematically excluded from the mainstream workforce and misleadingly being projected as incapable of productive work i.e., little job mobility and few skills, disabled women workers may be forced to endure oppressive working conditions and sometimes being labelled as burden on the society. In fact, disabled women earn the lowest wages compared to men with disability or non-disabled women. Furthermore, in


addition to the prejudice and discrimination barrier, the inaccessibility of the physical 

environment (e.g., buildings, roads transport and toilet facilities) is a serious obstacle to disabled women working outside their homes. Women and girls with disability may be exposed to unsafe materials and subjected to excessive hours of work under harsh conditions.

Only 36 per cent of persons with disability in India are employed, of which 90 per cent are in the unorganized sector. Among the men with disability, 47% are working and among women with disability , only 23% are working. The working women with disability in India are, 25% in rural areas and 16% in urban areas. 

We can work to make their lives better..

• start a literacy class for the women who cannot read or write.

• start a small business together, making and selling crafts or tools.

• share information with each other about community services and work together to make them more accessible.

• try to get funds—either through a low-interest loan or through a donation—to begin an income-earning project or to make the community more accessible.

• raise awareness about disabilities and advocate for new ways of thinking about independence.

• Work with local leaders or the government to get better treatment for women with disabilities.


Have you heard about 4 young women with physical disabilities—Shahina, Noori, Devaki and Chandramma who make and fit other women with rehabilitation aids and appliances?

Women with disabilities show the way in Bangalore, India In the southern Indian city of Bangalore, 4 young women with physical disabilities—Shahina, Noori, Devaki and Chandramma—make and fit other women with rehabilitation aids and appliances. They work at the Rehabilitation Aids Workshop by Women with Disabilities (RAWWD) which was started in 1997 by 8 women with disabilities who were trained by an NGO called Mobility India to make mobility aids. Although there were other facilities, until RAWWD started, only male technicians were available to measure and make the aids, and women with disabilities were hesitant to go to them. They were embarrassed to let men measure and fit them with appliances. Because of this, many women did not use the appliances which would have made them mobile. RAWWD now makes a wide variety of rehabilitation aids for the ankles, feet and knees. These include crutches, walkers, shoes, belts, and braces, as well as prosthetics (artificial legs and feet). As the women at RAWWD increased their confidence and skills, they began providing services to other organizations working for people with disabilities, and now also provide services to several hospitals and private doctors in Bangalore.
The women get the materials to make the aids, keep records of the clients, conduct regular follow-up visits, and manage their business. RAWWD also encourages other women with disabilities to become technicians and trains them to make and repair rehabilitation aids and appliances. This promotes equality for women with disabilities, especially women who have been abandoned by their families, and also provides them with a livelihood.


My agent cheats me. What can I do? 

You need to consult a legal advisor and take legal protection.


Major Limitations of PWDs Act In relation with Women with disability

  • The Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 fails to give due recognition to the working capabilities of all PWDs and has in place no special provisions for WwDs (Women with Disabilities). Furthermore, none of the schemes cover the fast growing private employment sector.

  • There are special quota policy for PWDs, but the significant feature of quota policy is that it is applicable only to three disability types – locomotor, visual and hearing with a 1% reservation for each. This makes it evident that neither the disability categories of the Act nor the other categories of disabilities are included in the reservation policy. Hence the public employment quota for persons with disabilities is narrow in its goal and has failed to provide adequate representation of them in the public sector workforce. 


Persons with disabilities generally need more health-care compared to others – both standard needs such as immunization, cancer screening and treatment of infections and needs linked to underlying health conditions and impairments. They have high chances of worsening health and are more frequently in need of health-care services. Because of this, persons with disabilities are more vulnerable to the impact of low quality or inaccessible health-care services than others. At the same time, since they face greater barriers to accessing services, persons with disabilities consistently have a poorer uptake of both general and specialized health-care services when they are needed.

Several challenges in clinics and hospitals include;

  • Steps and curbs that block a person with mobility impairment from entering a building or using a sidewalk.

  • Mammography equipment that requires a woman with mobility impairment to stand.

  • Absence of a weight scale that accommodates wheelchairs or others who have difficulty stepping up.

  • Lack of accessible toilets.

  • Reception and medicine counters are so high that you cannot see the person on the other side.

  • Notice and information boards are on glass panels are impossible to read.

  • Women with disabilities have less access to regular screenings and doctors’ visits and therefore are at a higher risk for many diseases such as late-stage cancer diagnoses/HIV Aids/etc.

  • Auditory health messages may be inaccessible to people with hearing impairments, including; Videos that do not include captioning, and Oral communications without accompanying manual interpretation (such as Sign Language)


And the list goes endless..


Communities and health care centers should work together for the well-being of women with disability...

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