Managing Disability

Books on disability- as on most topics- are rare to come by in India. Given the size of our population, the number of persons with one or the other form of disability is, regrettably, large. And this means that there is a sizable section of our country whose needs are not adequately addressed. To be sure there is a huge effort- the Disability India Network runs an excellent website with much information, and a lot of pointers for what can be done, both by way of participation as well as by intervention.

E is one of the few publishers that have a number of titles in the area. This year, they brought out the second edition of Archie Hinchcliffe's Children with Cerebral Palsy. Earlier titles include S Venkatesan's Children with Developmental Disabilities, and the very important Management of Cerebral Palsy by Kate Tebbett, Poonam Natarajan and Rajul Padmanabhan. In this interdisciplinary study, the authors draw upon the experience of Naratajan and her group in running Vidya Sagar, a facility for the care of individuals with cerebral palsy, in Chennai. The volume itself integrates a variety of different approaches in the management of disability, touching upon physiotherapy, speech, language, psychology, sociology, as well as epidemiology and public health.

Poonam Natarajan, who started Vidya Sagar in 1985, is now Chairperson of the National Trust, a statutory body set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and
Empowerment under The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999.

Their most important function is to set up safety nets and support systems for the disabled people. The Act looks at disability in an altogether different paradigm, not merely setting up a residential home. The trust looks at building capacity and skill development of the disabled. The National Trust works through a network of registered NGOs, parents’ associations and various groups working for the disabled. (Business Standard, October 9, 2007)

Clearly, there is much that can be done and these books might help along the way. We list these titles in our Education section.