Disability has often been construed as something do with impaired hands or legs, sometimes vision, hearing, speech and sometimes also mental retardation. However, in the actual essence, disability extends towards any limitation or impairment pertaining to a particular body part which invokes participatory restriction on the individual in various situations in life.
There is a tracing history about the inclusiveness of different forms of impairments under the general term of ‘disability’. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act in its Section 2(i) defines disability as – Blindness, Low-vision, Leprosy-cured, Hearing-impairment, Loco motor disability, Mental retardation and mental illness.
Considering the Census history, from 1872-1931, the question of disability was canvased following the period from 1941 to 1971, the same question was not canvased. And, then, finally in 1981, the data was collected on three types of disability which consisted of totally blind, totally crippled and totally dumb. Further, again, the question on disability was dropped in 1991 Census. The breakthrough came in 2001 and 2011 with addition of five and then eight conditions respectively and accordingly the data was collected. So, the 2011 Census included disability in seeing, hearing, in speech, movement, mental retardation, mental illness and any other form of multiple disability.
“Hearing impairment” has not been so widely recognized in terms of the number of people having it. Yet, it is prominent, as backed up by the census 2011, which clearly reveals over 1.3 million people with ‘hearing impairment’ alongside the India’s national Association of Deaf which has estimated 18 million people which inclines to approximately 1 per cent of the population of India coming under the tract of being impaired by hearing ability.
With respect to the data collected in 2011 Census, from the 121.08 Cr population, 2.68 Cr of them were having some form of disability. When analyzing further, it was revealed that 20 per cent of them have disability in movement, 19 % have seeing impairment and another 19 % have hearing disability.
Taking the statistics beyond India, around 3.5 % of the Americans and a total of 5 % of the world’s population suffers from some form of hearing disability or impairment. Hearing disability is a broader term can actually be bifurcated as complete loss of hearing, or some type of difficulty in listening to day-to-day conversation or speech, or utilization of a hearing aid or machine. However, hearing problem restrictive to a single ear from the pair can not be generalized into hearing impairment.
The children born with hearing disability or any other form and seen with a lot of stigma considering their education and future prospects in life. Life for the disabled is difficult and learning and education is equally hard to access. In India, only 5 % of the hearing disability children have access to elementary schooling and a meagre of 1 % of them have the chance to procure quality education in the country.
Education needs to take a new leap in terms of the disabled children by taking joint suggestions from the normal people and also deaf researchers, so that, a qualitative results in terms of teaching them sign language, training their communication skills and then further educating them in various subjects cannot be an ardent task for all the disabled ones.