Everyday, workers in nursing scrubs witness people cry in pain as they hear doctors say Sorry, we can do nothing at all. Mothers’ hearts are torn apart when they discover their newborn babies having physical disabilities. Some develop syndromes leading to complicated health problems that soon left them handicapped. But what is sadder is the stigma they have to face living with disabilities.

There are 650 million people living with disabilities worldwide, and they all experience discrimination in many different ways. U.S. Pres. Barack Obama said, in a presidential proclamation, that discrimination against physically challenged people in workplaces and in communities still happen in the United States. He also mentioned that 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing nations are not able to attend school, and that women are all too often subjected to deep discrimination.

However, discrimination seems to root not only from bullies in school, workplaces or the community, but also within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities itself. On Thursday, the National Association of the Deaf in Chennai held a demonstration condemning the said organization, after a promise to be included in the Eleventh Five Year Plan did not materialize.

“Our joy turned into sorrow when the plan received no mention in the 2008 budget. In 2009, we were promised by senior planning commission members that it would be done. But nothing has happened so far,” said T K M Sandeep, coordinator, The Deaf Way, an NGO working with people with hearing disabilities. The group is asking for special schools up to Class XII in each state and in each college, a sign language academy, interpreters and captions on telecasts, which is just right. Education is one big aspect that can break the barrier that holds disabled people from fully participating in the society.

In Beijing China, disabled people called for accessible travel. Improvement in security and social services are what they want as the country has 83 million of the 650 million disabled worldwide. If government leaders are encouraging them to integrate into the society, the means through which they would be able to reach out to must be provided first. Public places should install relevant barrier-free facilities to ease travel in connection to the rights of disabled people as stipulated in relevant laws and regulation, said Zhou Wei, a Sichuan University law professor.

Physically challenged people have capabilities that can never be underestimated. In fact, many of them show exemplary qualities that have been very helpful to different aspects of the society. May the International Day of Persons with Disabilities remind everyone, especially the authorities, that disabled people are a vital part of the society.

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