Vocational training for the differently abled

Vocational training for the differently abled

Vocational training for the differently abled

‘Differently abled’ is a term used for people who are physically and/or mentally challenged. The term was coined in the early 1980s by the United States Democratic National Committee as a more acceptable and kinder term as compared to disabled or handicapped.

The term ‘differently abled’ recognises the fact that despite the mental and physical challenges, differently abled people are blessed with abilities and strengths, which exceed the skills of the general population. This particular term aimed to shift focus from the disability to the capabilities of a disabled individual. The Los Angeles Times stated in 1985, “In a valiant effort to find a kinder term than handicapped, the Democratic National Committee has coined (the term) differently-abled. The committee itself shows signs of being differently abled in the use of (the) English (language).”

Employment is often seen as an important step towards the rehabilitation and empowerment of a differently abled person, because it provides a sense of belonging, importance and independence. Being able to work and earn a sustainable amount of income is an effective way of evading social exclusion and poverty. 

However, differently abled people find it very difficult to be accepted as an active and functional member of the society. The chief obstacles in achieving employment are societal bias, individual circumstances (poverty, lack of skills), and physical limitations (bad health, lack of transport and accessibility). Hence, getting a well paying, full-time job is a big struggle for them. 
Being fairAs a society, we must enable the differently abled in gaining employment and assist them in marking their place in the society. They too have the right to work, but we must ensure that they are given the means to exercise that right. 
Differently abled people who are able to earn their own living feel equipped to be able to deal with the trauma of ‘un-ability’ and dependency. 

Vocational training hence is a big advantage for the differently abled people, as it supplements the initial training to ensure and assist the development of the desired skill set. These skill sets are based on the requirements of a given profile and will vary across domains and profiles. For differently abled people, vocational training includes the development of skills, knowledge, and attitude. These three elements put together form the key to success in finding a desired and fulfilling job. 
Various Indian as well as international organisations have invested heavily in aiding the skill development of the differently abled people through vocational training. This has helped enrich the lives of millions of differently abled. A few of these initiatives have been listed below.

The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) ‘Disability Programme’ has been actively involved in encouraging the availability of vocational training along with equal employment opportunities for differently abled people. This has been based on the philosophy of equal opportunity, equal treatment, mainstreaming, and community involvement. The programme aims to promote the importance of training and employment of differently abled people. This is done by conducting research related to policy and practise, collecting and distributing related information, and publishing guidelines and manuals. Article 7 of ILO’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Convention states that ‘experienced authorities should take actions such as to provide and evaluate vocational guidance, vocational training, placement, employment and other related services to enable differently abled people to secure, retain and advance in their career.’
National Policy on Education (NPE) in India has stated and encouraged that ‘adequate arrangements should be made for the vocational training of the differently-abled students’ in schools. 
Persons with Disability (PWD) Act (1996), encourages government bodies to promote vocational training for the differently abled all over India. The Act also provides for three per cent reservation in government jobs for such people. Of this three per cent, one per cent is reserved for each of the following disabilities; blindness or low vision, hearing impairment and locomotor disability or cerebral palsy. National Livelihood Rural Mission (NLRM) in India encourages various states to promote the employment of the differently abled people living in rural areas. This is done by the initiation and provision of facilities such as medical care, vocational training, insurance schemes and so on.
In 1968, the Government of India signed an agreement with the Government of United States of America for establishing two Vocational Rehabilitation Centres (VRCs), at Bombay (Mumbai) and Hyderabad. These centres aimed at assessing vocational as well as psychological needs of the differently abled people. Various NGOs across India too have contributed immensely for the cause. 
Delhi Council for Child Welfare, in Delhi, started the vocational training programme for the differently abled children in 1976. The programme aims to enable them to become independent members of the society. Fellowship of the Physically Handicapped, National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped, Siya-tech, and Spastics Society of India-The National Job Development Centre, are a few of the NGOs in Mumbai, which provide vocational training for the differently abled people. 
Many more of such initiatives in the form of policies, services and initiatives are being taken up by both NGOs and other welfare organisations. Even though, we human beings, haven’t been very sensitive towards the needs of the differently abled people, the present as well as the future seems bright for them. 
(The author is head of academics, Zee Learn.)

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