Every year, the United Nations observes 3 December as International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). One of the challenges that Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) face in our society is communication. PwDs have certain limitations as they are unable to communicate like abled-bodied persons. We need to accept and learn their language like Indian Sign Language (ISL) for the Deaf, and Braille and Video/Audio description for the Blind. They are human beings and embody the presence of God.
We need to join hands with persons with disabilities (PwDs) and organizations. To begin with, we need to respect them in the usage of language, especially when we address them through text or visuals in social media or mass media. Quite often, a person who is hard-of-hearing is called ‘mukh’ or ‘gunga’ in our local language, in both print and digital media, which dehumanizes them in our society. A deaf person cannot hear, but if given assistive devices and trained, they can speak or communicate through sign language. We become disabled when we are not able to communicate in their language for providing information, education and entertainment. Hence, it is important to accept their language and accept the person or the PwD. This means we have provided accessible language to PwDs.
Dr Mathew Martin PJ is a Media Officer, Department of Outreach & Extension Services, AYJNISHD (D) (under Dept. of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of India). He is the Joint Secretary of the Indian Sign Language Interpreter Association (ISLIA).