Occupational therapist plays a major role in “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. The focus is mainly on the empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society. As a result, people with disabilities do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis with others, which includes areas of transportation, employment, and education as well as social and political participation.
I feel that the right to participate in public life is essential to create stable democracies, active citizenship and reduce inequalities in society, promoting empowerment, and helping to create real opportunities for people with disabilities. This enhances their own capacities and supports them in setting their own priorities. Empowerment involves investing in people – in jobs, health, nutrition, education, and social protection. When people are empowered they are better prepared to take advantage of opportunities, they become agents of change and can more readily embrace their civic responsibilities.
Disability means different ability, they can achieve effectively with adaptation or modification of environment in a different way with the help of Occupational therapist as said by Dr Mita. We need to empower them and include them to be a part of society. Inclusion includes they should be heard, have specialist support when needed, connect with family, trends and local community and encourage their cultural, social and economic participation in society. The focus is on how society can strive for inclusivity through the removal of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers for people with disability. In fact, occupational therapist plays a major role in removing physical barriers i.e. making public places such as hospitals, hotels, malls, play areas accessible.
Technological barriers include the use of modified assistive technology for independence in activities of daily living, school, workplace and leisure skills. The need of the hour is to empower the differently abled to feel a part of the society to integrate them. Aspire, Motivate, Empower and Achieve be independent that’s the goal and motive of Occupational therapy. We have success stories disability can’t be a barrier to rise up. The list is unlimited few names to mention Classical Dancer Sudha Chandran, Music director Ravindra Jain, Badminton champion Girish Sharma, Blind cricket champion Shekar Naik, Journalist H Ramakrishnan, Doctor Satendra Singh nothing has stopped them from achieving and rising in life. So be empowered you can achieve what you strive for, disability is just a state of mind.
Dr. Mita Singhal is PhD Scholar, MOT (PAED) GOLD MEDALIST, MBA(HM), Senior Occupational therapist, at Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya National Institute for Persons with Physical Disabilities, PDUNIPPD, New Delhi.