Accessible and Inclusive Education System














The past few years have witnessed a tremendous shift from considering a child with disability being educated as a wastage of time and money to gradually making the education system accessible, inclusive and sensitive to the needs of special children. Our society is yet to witness a complete transition from segregated education to inclusive education, however, the fact that the process of transition and attitudinal shift has at least started is worth acknowledging.

Inclusive education is a relatively new approach of mainstreaming the education of children with disabilities and learning difficulties within the conventional classroom teaching. It aims to foster a common learning environment for everybody who is marginalized due to disability, poverty, gender, caste etc. The National Education Policy of India proposes that children with diverse learning needs should be able to participate fully in the regular schooling process. Besides home, the school is a child’s first encounter with a formal learning environment. It is a place for a child to build relationships, communicate and learn together and hence, it is necessary for everyone including children with disabilities to feel welcomed, respected and develop a sense of belongingness within the classroom.

Efforts are being made to integrate children with disabilities into the mainstream education system and moving towards the practice of education without segregation, however, the road to achieving inclusive education isn’t an easy one. Challenges in implementing inclusive education include stigma and deeply held negative attitudes around disability, designing an inclusive curriculum, inadequate technology, lack of trained teaching staff etc. These challenges including many other untold issues need to be addressed timely and comprehensively so that the future of children with disabilities isn’t put at stake.

Majority in our society still believe that investing in a child with disability is of little worth as he/she will never prove to be an asset. As a result, children with disabilities have been ignored for a very long time, hence, the need to bring a shift in the mindset of people is as necessary and urgent as is promoting an inclusive education system.


Ritica Maheshwari

Why the community of people with disabilities is not considered as a vote bank?

Public opinion polls now play an important role in politics. Not only do these polls predict who’s going to get how many seats in the elections, these also talk about caste considerations, about inclinations of female voters, about the mood of youngsters, about urban voters, rural voters, voters from different states, voters from different age-groups etc. But never in the history of Indian politics or in the data presented by an opinion poll has one seen the presence of disabled people, their inclinations, their issues, their choices as voters.

The community of people with disabilities is not considered as a vote bank. No caste or creed discusses the challenges and needs of people with disabilities, but why? Maybe it’s an awkward topic, or perhaps they are not a strong vote bank to influence electoral outcomes. At best, people with disabilities are seen as ‘objects of charity’. Some of the issues which have historically prevented people with disabilities to play an integral part in the politics of the country are:

  • People with disabilities are usually seen as liabilities, never as  assets.
  • Representation of the disabled community on any level is poor or next to zero.
  • The only disabled Member of Parliament ever was Jaipal Reddy, who had polio.
  • Being disabled has been a ground for disqualification to contest in elections on several occasions.
  • Families struggle for years to obtain a disability certificate for a member. Such a process should not take more than a week.
  • No political party ever selects a disabled person as an electoral candidate,. Even if a few brave souls decide to change that, there is little support.

It has to be acknowledged that there are around 40-80 million people with disabilities in the country as per a World Bank report. Add to these individuals, the caretakers who because of their proximity to people with disabilities have an understanding of disability. The people with disabilities and their families and their caretakers compose a big part of the total population. It’s time to change the narrative, so that our actions have room for change. Social stigma and discrimination are the core reasons for our failure. The blatant example of this discrimination is the fact that we have no exclusive representatives for the people with disabilities in the Parliament. We can protest all we want on the streets, but it won’t be as effective as protesting inside the House of Parliament.

Political change has to start along with social change for real change to occur in society.

How to change the state of the disabled community in the Politics of India?

  • An ordinance or a bill should be passed in the Parliament, reserving a few seats for the disabled.
  • When a member of the disabled community addresses the House, the whole country will listen and be inspired.
  • A balanced society has room for all, and such precedents can become a ray of hope for us.

Reservation in political seats will empower the disabled community and change the perception of the ignorant populous. If a member of the disabled community becomes an active Member of Parliament, the issues and injustice faced by disabled people will see the light of day. Justice isn’t a single decision but a practice. A single amendment in Parliament can change the course of the future for the disabled community.

Swaraj Bhatia

InAccessibility – A disabling world which aggravates a person’s disability

For PwDs to be active members of the society and lead a fulfilling life, understanding how they function and participate in the society and integrating them is important. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that people with disabilities have a right to fully participate in society, however, it is ultimately the way devices, services and built environments are structured which determine the extent to which PwDs can participate and engage effectively in their surroundings.

Usually understood as the ‘ability to access’, accessibility requires the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines so that PwDs can access, physical environment and information on an equal basis with others. This is required for inclusion and realization of the rights of PwDs. It is also closely related to Universal Design which emphasizes on creating products, services and built environment which can be conveniently used by everybody, irrespective of whether they are disabled or not.

Accessibility has multiple dimensions, inclusive of but not limited to – built environment, transportation and information and communication technology.

  • Accessible physical environment benefits not just PwDs but rather everybody ranging from children to elderly and this makes it imperative to overcome barriers in all common facilities like steps, elevator, parking, emergency exit, toilet etc. of the built environment.
  • Accessible transportation determines the extent to which PwDs are able to move around independently and also play a vital role in widening / limiting the range of opportunities that a person experiences in all aspects of his life.
  • Digital accessibility focuses on making digital products like websites, mobile applications, tools etc. accessible for everyone and aims to provide all the users access to the same information despite the disabilities that they may have.

Efforts are being made to create accessible environments for PwDs. During the accessibility audits of public buildings in Delhi-NCR, most corporate buildings of DLF in Cyber Hub, Gurgaon, were found to have elevators that were touch-screen operable. This has definitely made the buildings stand out in terms of technological advancements and aesthetics, however, in doing so, the buildings have been rendered inaccessible to the visually impaired individuals who rely on braille for operating elevators. Furthermore, most buildings either did not have designated refuge areas and emergency exits for PwDs or in cases where it was present, the way was either through steps or through incorrectly built ramps. Most buildings also lacked facilities as basic as accessible washrooms and in cases where they were present, they were either locked up as a store room or converted into a pantry.

Working as an Access Auditor has allowed me to closely experience how the built environment is structured and has helped me to reflect on how disability is a socially constructed idea which is more about the mindset than the body and it is essentially the disabling world that we exist in which aggravates a person’s disability.


Ritica Maheshwari


Infantilizing Disability – PwDs may not be able-bodied but they are not children either

The social model of disability advocates that disability is a social construction and emphasizes on how discrimination and stigma around disability is essentially the larger problem rather than disability itself. Our society has a tendency of considering Person with Disabilities as people who are not capable enough, dependent upon others, deserving of pity etc. Furthermore, in a society where everybody should ideally co-exist, PwDs are regarded as not just less than others but less than their own age as well. Infantilization is the practice of treating people who are no longer children as children. Treating PwDs as ‘grown up children’ is largely a mistaken way of thinking and is more common than is ever realized.

The many ways through which we engage in infantilization consciously or sub-consciously include baby talking, addressing the able-bodied caretaker and not the person with disability him/herself, assuming a person to be dependent and taking decisions on their behalf etc. The tendency to infantilize an adult person with disability is very common and while one may not even realize that they are doing it, it has far-reaching consequences for the person who is subjected to this kind of behaviour. Infantilization extends way beyond being merely a socially unacceptable behaviour and is condescending and insulting towards a person with disability. Even if it is well-intended or is done unconsciously, infantilizing of PwDs is nothing less than discrimination. Being treated as significantly younger than one really is not only frustrating but is also a way of dismissing one’s age, maturity and overall existence.

Recognising that PwDs have support needs is one part but using it as a basis to infantilize them is another. Thus, this leads to experiences of people with disabilities being overlooked and talked down to. There is a desperate need to stop associating disability with inability and how living with a disability does not change the status of an adult into that of a child.

Efforts should be made to put an end to the pervasive social devaluation of PwDs. Infantilizing PwDs might not always be an intended action and so it is essential that we educate ourselves rather than being ignorant about it. PwDs may not be able-bodied but they are not children either. They are capable enough to take charge of their own life and if and when they need support, they can obviously ask for it. It is time that we start practicing empathy and supporting PwDs without patronizing them.

Ritica Maheshwari

invisible disabilities

Invisible Disabilities – Misunderstood and Overlooked

invisible disabilities

World Health Organization defines disability as a restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. Most often, disability is associated solely with whether or not a person uses assistive equipment/technology – wheelchair, crutches, hearing aid etc. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that disability can take a variety of forms and while visible disabilities are familiar to most people, invisible disabilities have equally grave consequences for the people living with them.

An invisible or hidden disability is any physical, mental or emotional impairment that is not immediately apparent. Invisible disabilities have a potentially devastating impact on the lives of PwDs, however, due to its ‘invisible’ nature, the reality of the disability becomes extremely difficult for others to recognize. Most people fail to acknowledge invisible disabilities unless they are able to see an evidence of it. Invisible disabilities include but are not restricted to hearing impairment, visual impairment, chronic pain, epilepsy, learning difficulties, rheumatoid arthritis, psychiatric disabilities like depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc. Since these disabilities are not obvious to the eye, they have a higher probability of being misunderstood and overlooked.

Every year, 3 December is celebrated as International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the 2020 theme for the day was ‘Not all disabilities are visible’. World Disability Day 2020 reflected on how invisible disabilities are either not talked about or are misinterpreted and emphasized on mainstreaming them in conversations around disability. There exists a notion of judging and concluding what a person can or cannot do by the way they look and this makes it essential to understand that how a person appears to be may not always reflect the disability the person might be living with.

The fear of being discriminated and recognized only by their ‘disability’ is the foremost reason as to why most PwDs tend to restrict themselves from disclosing their disability – invisible or otherwise. The very fact that invisible disabilities are not obvious to the onlooker results in people with invisible disabilities being accused of faking or imagining their disabilities. The ‘invisible’ nature of the disability translates to a greater need for creating consciousness and changing the perspective towards this discourse. The doing away of social stigma around disability and attempting to be more accommodating and accepting of the distinctive challenges faced by PwDs is how we can make a way forward to a more inclusive society.

‘Everyone who is disabled looks disabled’ is a significant misconception that most people live by and hence, it becomes extremely crucial to be aware of and informed about the sensitivity of the discourse around invisible disability and refrain from adopting the attitude of ‘..oh but you look completely fine.’


Ritica Maheshwari

disability etiquette

Disability Etiquettes: The Do’s and Don’ts

For those who aren’t used to it, interacting with people with disabilities can be an awkward experience. Still, with disability etiquettes guiding one’s way, a healthy environment for interactions between people with disabilities and people without disabilities can be created. . Disability etiquettes aim to encourage recognition and respect for people with disabilities. Understanding and acknowledging that people with disabilities expect to be treated with respect just like others and can make sound decisions on their own behalf is the core of disability etiquettes. There are some do’s and don’ts that illustrate how one should behave around people with disabilities. 

General Practices 

  • Always ask for permission first before helping a person with a disability. 
  • Offer a handshake. For a quadriplegic person a smile and a nod is a better alternative.
  • Address them directly when talking about them instead of talking to the person accompanying them. 
  • Never assume anything; if needed, ask. 
  • To encourage ‘Disability Pride,’ use words that respect the individual’s identity by acknowledging the person before their disability. For example – say “person who uses a wheelchair or wheelchair user” instead of” wheelchair-bound person.” 
  • Never point out and ask about their disability unless they talk about it first.

Interacting with people with blindness or low vision

  • Always announce your arrival and departure. 
  • When serving as a Sight Guide, always describe the environment and obstacles. And offer your shoulder or arm rather than grabbing the arms of people with blindness or low vision. 
  • Read restaurant menus, newspapers, and any other information when the need arises. 
  • Never disturb a Sight Guide.

Interacting with people with mobility disabilities 

  • Never touch a wheelchair or mobility equipment without permission. 
  • Do not stare, and always maintain eye contact with the person when talking to him/her. 
  • Maintain physical boundaries to avoid inciting pain, disturbing their balance, or invoking a PTSD response. 

Interacting with people with hearing disabilities 

  • Shift their attention towards you by gently tapping their shoulder or arm to start a conversation. 
  • When interacting with a person with hearing impairment who uses sign language, please look at the person while talking and listening and not at their interpreter. 
  • Please avoid any reflex to shout; it won’t help. Talk in normal intonation of your voice. 

Interacting with people with speech disabilities 

  • If you fail to comprehend their speech, please politely ask them to repeat their sentences. 
  • If you still fail to understand, please ask to engage via writing.
  • Never try to finish their statements for them. Practice patience.

Interacting with people with mental health disabilities 

  • Please pay attention to what they are saying. 
  • Talk at an understandable pace. 
  • Never shout around them. 
  • Do not assume the media stereotypes. 

The most important aspect is to empathize the fact that a person with disability is beyond their situation. Once you get to know a person, you open the door to endless possibilities. They may be the most interesting or creative person you’ve ever met. Never let a disability thwart you to know a person.


Swaraj Bhatia

Stop Hating the Different: The Life of person with Disability in India

Christopher Reeve said – “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

We call them by many politically correct names, “Disabled, Specially abled, differentially abled, and divyang,” but do we ever try to understand their struggle?? The Indian society, in particular, considers disability as a consequence for actions of earlier births and people with disabilities are more likely to be treated like an outcast. We live in a toxic culture where we take everything in our lives for granted, resist change, and hate everything we perceive as different. More than 2.1 % of the Indian population comprises people with visual disabilities, locomotor disabilities, cognitive disability, dwarfism, intellectual disability, mental illness, cerebral palsy, and more. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, and Government schemes if implemented appropriately are enough to improve their standard of living, but what about invoking equality in our society; what about changing the mind-set; we need a cultural shift that empathizes with all.

Where to begin?

Most of the buildings in India are not disabled friendly; as a result, the people with disability are always seen asking for help to enter premises and for stairs. Imagine the effect on their mental health; their helplessness adds to the unfair life they are subjected to. What PWDs need is not our sympathy or pity but our acceptance and empathy. To achieve such a feat in society, we must begin with the children. They need our guidance to understand that although disabled people may seem different than us, they are the same human beings as us; they laugh, cry, and feel everything like us. Tell them to be friends with specially-abled kids in their school, and help them whenever possible. Such teachings can boost the confidence of children with disabilities and empower them to lead happy lives.

Poverty is a sin in this world.

Data suggests that more than 69% of the disabled population resides in the rural areas in India. Disability is either by birth or acquired due to accident, diseases, or unforeseen circumstances. Financially poor and rural households don’t have access to good healthcare or even basic healthcare knowledge for pregnant women. Lack of facilities at home, nutritional food, adequate care, and a positive environment affects pregnant women and the baby negatively. These factors are rooted in poverty, and can be prevented with effort from the society and the government.

What can we do?

A nation cannot flourish without the active vigilance of its citizens. We need to stop reflecting our pain onto others, accept our flaws, and forgive them. That’s how a harmonious society is built. Furthermore, we can do the following for disabled people –
1. Spread knowledge on the Unique Disability ID ( to enrol them for the benefits of government schemes.
2. Empower specially-abled people by teaching them skills to earn and live a respectable life.
3. Improve the knowledge in rural areas on the healthcare of expecting women through NGOs.
4. Be vigilant against the harassment of disabled people.
5. Make them aware about their legal rights.

Life is tough for us all. Regardless of our circumstances, we forget that the key to happiness is to spread joy and serve humanity irrespective of people’s caste, creed, colour, and even their disabilities.

Swaraj Bhatia

Absence of a disability-inclusive response in times of pandemic

At a time when the entire world is grappling with COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown, persons with disabilities (PwDs) have an altogether different story to narrate. Despite accounting for around 2.2% of India’s population, PwDs have been the most neglected and hence, one of the most severely affected by the pandemic. PwDs are as prone to the virus as the rest of the population, if not more. However, the difficulties experienced by them are further aggravated due to a variety of underlying factors.

Most often, PwDs are highly dependent on others for activities of daily living. In a situation like this, the inability to maintain social distancing only contributes to increasing their vulnerability. The fear of contracting COVID-19 virus has also led to an increase in the unwillingness of the care-givers to extend their services. With restrictions on services, pairing relevant care-givers with PwDs is another challenge that has become evident.

The pre-existence of physical and mental health complications also increases the probability of PwDs to contract the virus. For instance, particularly in the times of COVID-19, the need of a visually impaired person to touch things in order to obtain information from the surroundings is an unsafe practice. Additionally, the sudden imposition of lockdown has not just limited their exposure to the outside world but has essentially hindered their access to a variety of healthcare services and medical treatments that they rely on for everyday functioning, thus aggravating the disability in many cases.

In the context of employment opportunities, the prejudice and stigma against PwDs have exposed them to a greater risk of getting unemployed. In such times of unrest and crisis, sudden unemployment has only translated to PwDs being left to fend for themselves leading to their economic marginalization. It is also worth highlighting how PwDs have been vouching for and consequently being denied work-from-home opportunities since long. However, the pandemic has very successfully proven how the entire world can operate on work-from-home practices and this has essentially been an eye-opener for workplaces to become more inclusive and accommodating of the needs of the disabled.

The pandemic has brought the entire world to operate on technology. Be it academics or corporates, to most people, the pandemic has at least brought a satisfaction that when the entire world crashes down, technology might still keep us moving. However, digital accessibility has hardly been thought about. With restrictions on physical mobility and all minor/major activities being done online, most websites and mobile applications have failed to incorporate the needs of PwDs as they lack a disabled friendly interface. Additionally, most precautionary measures and advisories by the government have also been restricted to audio/written format. The failure to incorporate features like braille, sign language, closed captioning etc. speaks volumes about the extent of exclusion that PwDs are subjected to. This has also raised the question about the validity of making a mobile application like AarogyaSetu mandatory, despite it being digitally inaccessible for PwDs. 

PwDs have always been rendered invisible in our society and this is essentially why India experienced an absence of a disability-inclusive response to the public health crisis. The need of the hour is to collaborate with relevant stakeholders and incorporate the needs of the target population before formulating any guidelines and policies. Inclusion begins with making the decision-making process participatory and hence, considering it as an after-thought would only result in a collapse of the entire system.


An exclusive article by DAND

Written by Ritica Maheshwari

Legal Consultancy for Persons with Disability

We all have problems in our lives. Maybe the definition of life is incomplete without problems. One of the most complicated of these is legal issue.

DAND NGO has taken a special initiative for persons with disability in this regard. Anyone with a physical disability in West Bengal can get legal advice, online at the comfort of their home, completely free of charge. The person will be able to discuss and seek advice directly from an advocate.


Kindly note that you need to make a prior appointment for this session.


So what are you waiting for? If you or any of your disabled friends need legal advice, contact us TODAY


Virtual classes of skill development for physically disabled

We conduct weekly classes on Google Meet to coach aspiring candidates who are planning to appear in various competitive exams. 

Another online session is running regularly on Spoken English & Communication Skill development. 

There are around 20 students enrolled for each of these courses.

Gradually candidates are getting habituated in virtual learning.