Life of person with disabilities is very difficult, painful and beyond imagination. Our motive/duty as a human being should always be not only to be sympathetic towards these people but should contribute towards their well-being and growth in their life. No doubt, there are many examples of people and organisations making their sincere efforts towards improving the life style of these especially abled persons but much have to done and with the help of science and technology.The theme of National Science Day 2017 was “Science and technology for especially abled persons” in order to encourage innovation, awareness and reach of accessibility solutions to differently-abled people. As per records, 50 per cent of India’s 100 million differently-abled persons are under the age of 30 and there is a huge need for assistive technology products. There is urgent need to bring together government, corporates, educators, NGOs and the differently-abled people so as to understand their needs and provide information on available solutions that can include differently-abled people to participate independently in all walks of life.People with disabilities meet barriers of all types. For years, disabled people had to rely on somebody else doing things for them. But now with the help of advance technology, disabled people can do things that would have never been possible before – from switching on a light to having a voice to express themselves. Technology has always lent a helping hand for people with disabilities such as visual impairment, speech impairment, people with motion disabilities or disorders etc. There are a lot of apps and gadgets that can help ease the difficulties people with disability face on a daily basis. Moreover, technologies that could help disabled people contribute more in the workplace – and improve their quality of life.
The constitution of India states that all citizen of India are equal and States will not allow any discrimination based on Caste, gender, Race, Religion and Disability. The constitution has vested in its citizen with the Fundamental Rights and Right of equality. India has around 80 million people with disability, which may be because of war, armed conflict, hereditary, age related, accident related or due to some medical conditions. According to the World Bank, one in every 12 households in India has a person living with disability. To comply with UNCRPD
The Indian policy-makers are aware of the issue and Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 was implemented, it tried to address some of the concerns faced by differently-abled persons in India. The Act specifically refers to ease of access to public or private buildings, workplaces, commercial activities, public utilities, religious, cultural, leisure or recreational activities, medical or health services, law enforcement agencies, transport infrastructure, among others. The Smart Cities Mission offers a great opportunity to ensure inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in workplace, neighbourhood activities and in social life.The objectives of the Smart City Mission for persons with disabilities are to: ensure access to pathways, junctions, footpaths, bus shelters, crossings and public transportation; to create accessible websites, applications, government portals or community engagement platforms; to create accessible digital technology for websites, mobile applications, products and services and; to design accessible buildings, parks, playgrounds, schools, colleges, hospitals, recreational areas, public toilets, etc. In 2015, the Prime Minister rolled out the “Accessible India” Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan campaign, with a motive to make it convenient for persons with disabilities to access administrative buildings and transport, among other things. The campaign has been launched in seven States including Delhi and Haryana. The government is committed towards socio-economic transformation, of the persons with disability by year 2020. India can learn from the global best practices and some of the initiatives taken by start-ups within the country. A number of technology-based initiatives have been taken in other countries to ensure inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in work and social life. There are location-based technologies that offer real-time support for users with disabilities in many cities. Microsoft has created a “Smart Cities for All Toolkit”, which contains four tools to help smart cities worldwide to focus on ICT accessibility and the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons. Sydney, Australia is currently rolling out one of the world’s most comprehensive network of Braille and tactile signs to help visually impaired pedestrians. While India can bring home some of these technologies or develop its own technologies customised to the need of the people, there are hardly any studies to identify the need at a micro level. Unless, that is done, Smart City projects and “Accessible India” initiative may not achieve the desired objectives with risks of miss-allocation as well as miss-utilisation of funds. A recent pilot study in East Delhi by two ethnographic researchers, Arnab Bose and Seema Sharma, along with their students revealed a number of fundamental design thinking issues. For example, the heights of the bus stands are more than the heights of the buses. The buses do not stop at designated areas close to the bus stop — there are no markers. The top of the wheelchair access ramp is blocked by advertisement boards. Similar ethnography mismatches are also seen in places where disabled persons find it difficult to cross roads where foot over bridges do not have elevators or ramps. While these may look like minor issues and can be addressed easily, this has not been the case because addressing them requires funding, identification of the problem, project prioritisation and holistic thinking. The low floor buses are a good initiative, not taking into account the height of the bus stand is a major oversight. Such oversights happen when good initiatives are taken without research.Bose and Sharma have designed a community APP — SeenAb — through which they collect real-time data based on structured questionnaires on the issues faced by disabled persons in the neighbourhood in accessing public infrastructure. Data science and analytics tools are then used by engineering students, technologists and economists to analyse the responses and prioritise the requirements. The State government and municipalities can then allocate funds accordingly.Such studies will not only help to save millions of tax payer’s money and have a disabled-friendly city planning, it will also help product manufacturing companies and service providers to customise products for requirements of disabled persons. The government should, therefore, engage with such innovative start-ups which will be helpful and beneficial to the aged and disabled population.
II. RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ACT 2016
After signing the UNCRPD and confirming it in 2007, the rights of the PWD Act, 2016 (RPWD Act, 2016) law was drafted and implemented and replacing PWD Act 1995. The principles of this act governed empowerment of disabled persons (PWDs) include the dignity, personal autonomy, freedom to make own choice, freedom of an individual. This act includes respect for the personnel with disability and acceptance of these persons with full and effective involvement in the society, also accepting their disability as part of human diversity and humanity, equality of opportunity, access, equality between men and women, respect for the protection of their identity for children with disabilities. Principle reflects the paradigm of thinking about disability, from the concern of social welfare to the issue of human rights. This act revised and expanded the condition of various disability from 7 to 21 conditions. The RPWD Act, 2016 now also includes cerebral palsy, dwarfism, and muscular dystrophy, acid attack victims, hard of hearing, speech and language disability, specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, chronic neurological disorders such as multiplesclerosis and Parkinsons disease, blood disorders such as haemophilia, thalassemia, andsickle cell anaemia, and multiple disabilities. The nomenclature mental retardation is replaced by intellectual disability. It specifies the benchmark of disabilities to at least 40% of any of the above disability. PWD having high support needs are those who are certified as such under section 58 of the Act. The RPWD Act, 2016 provides that “the appropriate Government shall ensure that the PWD enjoy the right to equality, life with dignity, and respect for his or her own integrity equally with others.” The Government is to take steps to utilize the capacity of the PWD by providing appropriate environment. It mentioned in section (III) that no PWD shall be discriminated on the ground of disability, unless the impugned act or omission is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim and no person will be deprived of his personal liberty only on the ground of disability. Living in the community for PWD is to be, ensured and Government to ensure reasonable accommodation for them. Government to ensure special measures taken to for women and children with disabilities and they enjoy rights equally with others. Measures should take to protect the PWD from cruelty, inhuman, and degrading treatments and from all forms of abuse, violence, and exploitation. Children with disability are not to be separated from parents except by court’s order. Accessibility in voting and access to justice without discrimination to the PWD to be ensured. Public documents must be made accessible to them. It is to be ensured that all PWD enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life. They have right to equal recognition everywhere as any other person before the law and have the right, equally with others, to own and inherit movable and immovable property as well as control their financial affairs as per Sec 13. The Bill provides for the access education, vocational training, and self-employment of disabled persons without discrimination. Facilities like buildings, campuses, and various facilities are to be accessible to the PWD and their special needs to be addressed. Appropriate healthcare measures, insurance schemes, and rehabilitation programs for the PWD are also to be undertaken by the Government. Cultural life, recreation, and sporting activities are also to be taken. All Government institutions of higher education and those getting aid from the Government are required to reserve at least 5% of seats for persons with benchmark disabilities. Four percent reservation for persons with benchmark disabilities is to be provided in posts of all Government establishments with differential quotas for different forms of disabilities. Incentives to employer in private sector are to be given who provide 5%reservation for persons with benchmark disability.
III. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Assistive Technology means innovation and development of adaptive devices for the people with disabilities. People with disabilities faces problems to carry out their daily activities independently or they are dependent on somebody’s assistance. Daily activities include self-care activities such as use of toilet, mobility, eating, bathing, dressing and grooming. The development of artificial limbs has transformed the life of especially abled person completely. Artificial limbs helps the disabled individual to carry out his daily activities independently. These limbs are battery operated and they are developed in such a way that they perform as limbs of normal individual. Assistive technology promotes enable people with disability to perform tasks which they were unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing. For example, wheelchairs provide independent mobility for those who cannot walk, battery operated wheel chairs made a great transformation in the life of disabled people. Now they can mobilize independently. While assistive eating device enable people who cannot feed themselves to do so. These advanced technologies has given, people with disabilities opportunity of a more positive and healthy lifestyle. It has enabled more social participation, ensured their safety and security.
Impact of Assistive Technology
While the needs of the especially abled often remain unrecognised, there is urgent need to empower them with new innovations. One billion people in the world are differently abled, 21 million of which are in India alone. The Supreme Court of India has observed that they continue to be “trapped in a cycle of poverty and illiteracy,” and there is much to be done for them. There are several organisations and students who are working on assistive technology-driven products that can empower the especially abled. Overall, assistive technology aims to allow people with disabilities to participate more fully in all aspects of life and increases their opportunities for education, social interactions, and potential for meaningful employment. The use of assistive technology created positive improvements in the life of disabled people. These advanced technologies have completely transformed the life of PWDs, they have become independent, and it has increased their confidence and participation in their social life. Both family and professional caregivers benefit from assistive technology. The assistive technologies have made person with disabilities less dependent on their family members and friends. The family members are less worried and are happy for their member. Their work load has become significantly easier as the assistive technology frees them of having to perform certain tasks. There are several platforms that use machine learning to identify the appropriate assistive device to suggest to patients, making assistive devices more accessible. With the use of advance technology these PWD feels like normal individual. Some examples of assistive technologies are: People with physical disabilities that affect movement can use mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, crutches, prosthetic devices, and orthotic devices, to enhance their mobility. Hearing aids can improve hearing ability in persons with hearing problems. Cognitive assistance, including computer or electrical assistive devices, can help people function following brain injury. Computer software and hardware, such as voice recognition programs, screen readers, and screen enlargement applications, help people with mobility and sensory impairments use computer technology. In the classroom and elsewhere, assistive devices, such as automatic page-turners, book holders, and adapted pencil grips, allow learners with disabilities to participate in educational activities. Closed captioning allows people with hearing impairments to enjoy movies and television programs. Barriers in community buildings, businesses, and workplaces can be removed or modified to improve accessibility. Such modifications include ramps, automatic door openers, grab bars, and wider doorways. Lightweight, high-performance wheelchairs have been designed for organized sports, such as basketball, tennis, and racing. Adaptive switches make it possible for a child with limited motor skills to play with toys and games. Many types of devices help people with disabilities perform such tasks as cooking, dressing, and grooming. Kitchen implements are available with large, cushioned grips to help people with weakness or arthritis in their hands. Medication dispensers with alarms can help people remember to take their medicine on time. People who use wheelchairs for mobility can use extendable reaching devices to reach items on shelves.
IV. SOME IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGIES WHICH EMPOWER THE SPECIALLY ABLED TO CHASE THEIR DREAMS
There are several organisations and students who are working on technology-driven products that can empower the especially abled. Many Start-up ventures and volunteers has shown keen interest in developing the assertive technologies. Below we list a few upcoming innovations:
- Mobility Devices: Outdoor mobility device the start-up has designed a quick and easy add-on mobility device which can be attached externally to a manual wheelchair. This converts it to an outdoor mobility device. The attachment is available in both manual and motorised mode to meet the needs of users. .Known as ‘Team Aseem’, the three founders of NeoMotion hope to launch their product in the market for commercial use..
- Empowering cerebral palsy: Mobility India, a Bangalore-based organisation, have designed a low-cost, prefabricated twin device to help correct the posture for children with cerebral palsy. With adjustable features the product too grows with the child’s age. The USP of the device is that the same product can be used as a sitting chair and as a standing frame. Further, these products also require little space.
- Assistive cars: A 41-year-old entrepreneur from Bengaluru, is on a mission to make cars accessible for persons with disabilities. He has designed and built a mechanism that can be easily installed under a car’s driving seat, making it disabled-friendly. Turn Plus seats are designed to make car travel easy for a disabled person, using an easily installable swivel seat mechanism.“The original seat, along with its track and reclining motion, remains intact. The seat is removed, the mechanism is installed, and the seat is put back. So, there is no modification made in the car’s structure or core functioning, except that it now becomes disabled-friendly,” This mechanism does not require electricity or batteries, as it runs completely on manual operation.
- Mobile app for the deaf: Quadio Devices Pvt Ltd, a hearing care provider of India, launched a hearing app that replicates as a mobile-based hearing solution complete with all the features of a conventional hearing tool. The Q+ app, a free application, is accessible, controllable, and customisable. The Q+ app harnesses the processing power of a smartphone to enable it to be used as a complete and fully-functional hearing machine. It is designed to maximise the listening experience based on the results of a simple interactive hearing test. The app also gives the user an ability to control and customise sound quality by intelligently enhancing hearing sounds and speech. With the Q+ app, a person suffering from hearing disability can easily follow conversations using the phone headset in both quiet and noisy environments, and control the sound quality to customise it to his/her preference.
- Encyclopaedia for the hearing impaired: Mumbai-based Bleetech has devised a low-cost version of an encyclopaedia for persons who are hearing impaired. Here, the users can ask questions through a mobile appeither in sign language or English, where they receive answers to their queries in Indian sign language.
- Accessible videos: Recognising the need for assistance in video translations, Chabla Oy, have developed a mobile app service that instantly connects the user to a live interpreter. Further, it also enables deaf people to make and receive calls. Moreover, the app provides free call service between Chabla users.
- Real-time text to braille converter: Students from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, have devised a letter-to-letter braille converter that prints the recognised letter in the braille cell.The product consists of a small cuboid which can be held with three fingers, thumb, index, and middle and get placed on a printed text. The user has to slide the cuboid on the text to read it. Through this device, any ordinary hard copy of a book or newspaper can be instantly read by the person. The device usage can also be expanded and enhanced based on user needs and employability. The team is currently being incubated by the Accenture Innovation Challenge.
- Brain-controlled mobile application: Students from NBN Sinhgad School of Engineering, Pune, have developed a multipurpose Brain Computer Interface that can control mobile applications through brain. The especially abled people are incapable of using technology as others do, because recent technologies such as mobile phones are supposed to be used with our fingers. An individual who has lost his hand due to some reason might not be able to use the technology. The device works on an electroencephalogram using electrodes for reading brain waves.
- Gaming for the especially abled: Students from the United Kingdom have developed a software, Gameable, which enables the specially-abled people to play video games. It has an in-built gesture-recognition-based control software.
- Prosthetic Limb or Artificial Limb: It is a device that replaces a missing body part. It is part of the field of bio-mechatronics, the science which uses mechanical devices with human , muscle, skeleton, and nervous systems to assist or enhance motor control lost by trauma, disease, or defect. Prostheses are typically used to replace parts lost by injury or missing from birth or to supplement defective body parts. Inside the body, artificial heart valves are in common use with artificial hearts and lungs seeing less common use but under active technology development. The complete prosthesis would consist of the attachment system to the residual limb usually a socket, and all the attachment hardware components all the way down to and including the terminal device.
The pain and suffering of the person with disabilities is beyond imagination. They are dependent on their family members and dear ones to carry out every single activity of their daily routine. They are not treated equally with other normal members of family. They are subjected to discrimination, violence, harassment and sexual exploitation. Under such circumstances the assistive technologies has proved to be boon to especially abled person. Being ratified under UN convention, various rules and laws were enacted for the development of disabled person, but lack of proper implementation of these acts has proved big obstacles in the development and standardization of challenged people. The assistive technologies which are available in the market are very expensive and these are available in limited centres only. Disabled person from strong financial background can only afford to buy these technologies. While majority of disabled belongs to rural area in India. They are financially weak and cannot afford these assistive technologies. Another obstacle is the treatment facilities for person with disabilities. Access to these facilities are very less as it is available in few hospitals only. The cost on medicine are expensive and its supply is also limited. Lack of information about these assistive technologies is another barrier for the disabled individuals. As mentioned above that majority of disabled people are from rural area, where there is no means to inform and educate the effected people about revolutionary changes and development happening for the development of disabled person.
VI. CONCLUSION & SUGGESTIONS
The person with disabilities are valuable resources of our nation. The advanced technologies have assisted person with disabilities in achieving milestones in their life for example: Maryappan Tangavelu won gold in men’s high jump at Paralympic in 2016, Devendra Jhajharia, Deepa Malik and Varun Singh Bhati won gold, silver and bronze respectively in the same Paralympic. Disability is a complex social issue and it is increasingly becoming a major concern all over the world. The number of disabled people is increasing across the world due to war, armed conflicts, hereditary, acid attack, accidents explosion etc. Traditionally, disability has long been considered to be an index of marginality. They faced direct and indirect discrimination and were not able to enjoy the full spectrum of civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights. It has to be fundamentally accepted that disabled people are integral part of our society. If the society can properly address the concerns of the persons with disability, they too can contribute a lot for the development of the Nation. People with disabilities often encounter obstacles due to sensitivity and attitudinal barriers. A sense of ignorance, neglect, superstition and fear have isolated persons with disabilities and delayed their development. Thus, the issue of addressing the social construction of disability is very important. There is a strong need to inject disabled people with self-assertion, identity and development for their own benefit and for the benefit of all of us. And this will happen only when assistive technologies will be made available to them at an affordable price. There is need for awareness camping at war front, so that PWDs and their care taker can know and utilize these amazing and useful assistive devices. Appropriate government should make provision easy availability these equipment at all health centres of all taluks and districts, malls education institutions etc. The government should subsidise these product, it should cater for easy loan to the people to own the advance technology. More and more Strat-ups should be encouraged to develop the technologies for the advancement of PWDs. Reimbursement on tax should be given to the care taker of the disabled person who is using these advance technology. Persons with disability have enough potential to contribute to the society and its development provided they are equipped with advance assistive technologies and allowed to fully participate through recognition of their rights and dignity. The legislations meant for safeguarding the persons with disabilities and the various policies / schemes / programmes must be able to address the issues of alarming rate of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty among the persons with disabilities. The issue of accessibility correlates the issue of education and employment and economic development of a country. However, providing advance technologies, laws and policies alone may not be enough. Public perception, attitude and awareness have significant role to play. There is a need for social change through public awareness. The public in general may be empowered and educated to about the revolutionary change in the field of science and technologies so that they can spread and make PEDs aware of this revolution.
- Glickman SW, Anstrom KJ, Lin L et al. Challenges in enrollment of minority, pediatric, and geriatric patients in emergency and acute care clinical research. Ann Emerg Med. 2008;51(6):775–780. e3. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- Vickers SM, Chen MS. Enhancing Minority Participation in Clinical Trials (EMPaCT): laying the groundwork for improving minority clinical trial accrual. Cancer. 2014;120(suppl 7):1087–1090.[PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- National Institutes of Health. NIH policy and guidelines on the inclusion of women and minorities as subjects in clinical research. Vol 20152001. Available at: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/women_min.htm. Accessed September 19, 2016. [Google Scholar]
- Powell JH, Fleming Y, Walker-McGill CL, Lenoir M. The project IMPACT experience to date: increasing minority participation and awareness of clinical trials. J Natl Med Assoc. 2008;100(2):178–187.[PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- Meyers AR, Andresen EM. Enabling our instruments: accommodation, universal design, and access to participation in research. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2000;81(12 suppl 2):S5–S9. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- Feldman MA, Battin SM, Shaw OA, Luckasson R. Inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream child development research. Disabil Soc. 2013;28(7):997–1011. [Google Scholar]
- Anderson WL, Armour BS, Finkelstein EA, Wiener JM. Estimates of state-level health-care expenditures associated with disability. Public Health Rep. 2010;125(1):44–51. [PMC free article][PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- Newacheck PW, Inkelas M, Kim SE. Health services use and health care expenditures for children with disabilities. Pediatrics. 2004;114(1):79–85. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- Brucker DL, Houtenville AJ. People with disabilities in the United States. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015;96(5):771–774. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- Iezzoni LI. Eliminating health and health care disparities among the growing population of people with disabilities. Health Aff (Millwood) 2011;30(10):1947–1954. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- Brault MW. Americans With Disabilities: 2010. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau; 2012.[Google Scholar]
- Halfon N, Houtrow A, Larson K, Newacheck PW. The changing landscape of disability in childhood. Future Child. 2012;22(1):13–42. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
- Kirschner KL, Breslin ML, Iezzoni LI, Sandel E. Attending to inclusion: people with disabilities and health-care reform. PM R. 2009;1:957–963. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Cite as: Sunil Kumar Mishra, Beneficial Medical Science Innovation – Study of the Revolutionary Change in the Life of the Disabled Person, 1 Int’l J. of Legal Sci. and Inno. 2 (2019)