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COVID-19 in South Asia: State practices, responses and the experiences of persons with disability within the region

MEHROTRA, Nilika
SOLDATIC, Karen
2021

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An introduction into South Asia looking at the pandemic who people are struggling with in 2020. The DGS has aimed to first identify and acknowledge the diversity of disability experiences in the Global South and, second, make these experiences readily available and accessible to disabled people and their communities in the regions where the contributors themselves are from. In fact, in undertaking this special issue as editors, we would like to recognize the incredible persistence of our contributors to continue to work with us throughout the development of the papers, alongside acknowledging the many original contributors who were also unable to accept our invitation to participate because of the covid19 pandemic impacts upon every aspect of their lives.

Emergent Disability voices on Social Media during COVID -19 times

MEHROTRA, Nilika
2021

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Persons with disabilities are invisible and almost silent in the Indian media. This paper examines the emergence of articulate expressions of persons with disabilities (pwd) in the social media over the months March to June 2020 during COVID Lockdown. While technology has been seen as a great leveller for persons with disabilities, the digital divide, however, remains very real for masses of disabled persons, whereby it is largely the educated middle class who have access to internet facilities and presence on social media. This paper draws from observation and analysis of posts on Facebook by different categories of persons with disabilities. There appear to be a number of discourses emerging and imageries running almost parallel. Accessibility and support appear to be very important issues especially in terms of access to domestic workers, regular medical checkups, and procuring daily provisions as well as access to online teaching. On the other hand, little concern is being paid to the huge humanitarian crisis of returnee workers from cities to villages. Interestingly, disabled persons appeared more connected, participating in discussions and Webinars and voicing out their experiences with greater clarity and also analysing the COVID situation through Disability Studies (DS) perspectives.

Uncertain Personhood: Notes on Ageing and Disability in Guwahati During COVID 19

BEZBARUAH, Vaijayanti
2021

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The circumstantial understanding of the ‘normal’, ushered in by the spread of COVID 19, has been the practice of ‘social distancing’. Exercising this ‘new normal’ has been a challenge in general for society. However, it is particularly important to recognize the psycho-social impact and analyse it through the lens of ageing in relation to experiences of disability. This paper therefore attempts to explore the experiences of uncertainties in the light of ageing with disabilities, pronounced during a time of crisis, leading to social distress. With the help of telephonic conversations, the paper discusses some of the stories of people living in Guwahati, in the age-group of 70 to 90, drawing on an intersectional understanding of personhood, social suffering, and symbolic disability. It is also an attempt to look into the aspect of wellbeing (physical, psychological and emotional) of the elderly amidst disabilities, while stepping into unfamiliar social boundaries of ambiguity, that further disable the elderly in terms of the sudden fading of the regular support structures and systematic foundations of the ‘social’ once known to them.

Mental health of LGBTIQ+ people in India during the COVID 19 pandemic: risks, access, lessons

TENNETI, Suchaita
2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures have resulted in a mental health crisis globally. Marginalised populations have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic with an aggravation of existing inequalities, and this has increased the risks to their mental health. The LGBTIQ+ population is among those marginalised whose lives have been rendered even more precarious than before by the pandemic. This paper explores some of the main risks to the mental health of LGBTIQ+ people in India, the advice being given to them by mental health professionals and activists, and need for queer revisionings of uncertainty, the concept of a future and individualism.

Psychosocial Consequences of COVID-19 on Persons with Visual Impairments

NAYAR, Mahima
JUVVA, Srilatha
LAKSHMAN, Chitra
2021

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The ongoing pandemic situation has disrupted lives globally. These disruptions are embodied in gender, social location, ethnicity and in the body. Public health facilities, accessibility of urban infrastructure, support services for persons with disability, educational accessibility in cities prior to the pandemic have influenced the manner in which disabled people are able to adapt to the current situation. This paper presents the experiences of young people living with visual impairments who reside in an urban low-income community in India. It explores the unique challenges such as the further reduction in accessibility to health and educational facilities that they are facing and the manner in which their carefully structured everyday lives have changed. The narratives also describe the manner in which they are coping with the public health disaster in addition to preparing for the new ‘norms’ that people living with visual impairments are required to navigate as an outcome of the pandemic. The paper gives voice to their needs and requirements in this situation, and in turn, aims to inform policy responses through first person accounts. 

Making themselves heard: deaf people in India during the global COVID-19 pandemic

GULYANI, Ritika
2021

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The onset of the sudden and global pandemic, COVID-19, has forced all of us to change our ways of living and interacting with the outside world. Additionally, a lot of restrictions on movement mandated by governments have also been issued in the past few months. In the context of India, a nationwide lockdown was in place from midmarch till the end of May. These lock-downs have had serious consequences for various segments of the population across the country, especially, those on the margins, who are vulnerable and/or in a minority. One such segment has been the disabled population. This paper, with the help of narratives, addresses the challenges faced by the deaf population during the COVID crisis and the ways in which they have negotiated these. There has been a big void in the dissemination of information to the deaf, owing to the fact that the majority of information from official sources has not been translated into sign language. More so, in times when information is the key to maintaining proper health care, this is a big lacuna. Additionally, the paper will also talk about the role of technology as well as of deaf groups in the lives of deaf people, and how it has proved to be very helpful to not just spread proper awareness about the pandemic, but also in trying to build up a movement in trying to recognise Indian Sign Language as the 23rd Official Language of India. 

COVID-19 and State Responses in Pakistan’s Policy towards Persons with Disabilities

ORAKZAI, Saira Bano
2021

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The outbreak of COVID-19 has initiated debate in the world about the response mechanism towards different communities in society. Pandemics have a long history in human societies, changing not only human behavior but also world politics. The Russian flu of 1889, the Spanish flu of 1918, the polio pandemic of 1949, H2N2 virus, 1956, HIV/AIDS 1981, Swine flu 2001, SARS 2002 among others have caused millions of deaths in contemporary recorded history. This paper examines Pakistan’s response mechanisms for persons with disabilities through an analysis of relevant policy documents, UN guidelines and content analysis of key speeches by the Prime Minister Imran Khan, interviews and initiatives taken by the government. The paper concludes that in the absence of any definitive policy for persons with disabilities during COVID19, there has been a general ignorance and apathy towards the way persons with disabilities were given care or in dealing with them during the lockdown situation. As the COVID-19 second wave started in different parts of the world, it is time for the government to take substantive measures to ease problems faced by persons with disabilities. 

COVID-19 from the margins: Gendered-Disability experiences in Sri Lanka

KANDASAMY, Niro
PERERA, Binendri
SOLDATIC, Karen
2021

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Recent research in the global South has highlighted that persons with disabilities are a vulnerable category of persons during the COVID19 outbreak. This paper provides some preliminary insights into Sri Lankan government responses to the outbreak, which, as we will be highlighting, take an ableist approach that further neglect the interests of persons with disabilities while entrenching disability dependencies on informal structures of familial and household support and in turn, increasing their marginality and economic insecurity. The COVID-19 outbreak hit Sri Lanka during a period of political turmoil – national Parliament had been dissolved on 3 March 2020 with elections initially called for 25 April 2020, six months prior to the official end of the Government’s elected term. Drawing upon rapid interview narratives, we present the lived experiences of two women with disabilities and the unique challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we write this paper in September 2020, we acknowledge that the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 will not become immediately visible, particularly for disabled people from ethno-religious minority groups, including those residing within the former conflict zones.

COVID 19 in Nepal: The Impact on Indigenous Peoples and Persons with Disabilities

GURUNG, Pratima
2021

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The COVID 19 pandemic crisis is unfolding against the backdrop of several important milestones for equality and the human rights of various marginalized groups including women and girls, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities in all their diversities and intersections in Nepal. The COVID-19 pandemic has entrenched systemic gaps, underlying structural inequalities and pervasive discrimination, more visible with inadequate healthcare, access to information, employment and livelihoods, and social protection system mainly for marginalized groups. This study aims to understand the challenges and impacts of the COVID 19 on marginalized groups including persons with disabilities in Nepal. Based on qualitative research with primary and secondary information, the paper emphasizes the experiences and realities of marginalized groups during the lockdown and pandemic situations. Some of the existing challenges faced by marginalized groups include access to information and health measures related to COVID 19, access to livelihoods and employment, increasing rates of suicide, violence against women from marginalized groups, women with disabilities, and others. The study will integrate these components and deal with intersections with concrete recommendations. 

Invisible to the Law: COVID-19 and the legal consciousness of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh

MIZAN, Arpeeta Shams
2021

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Despite disability rights being recognized through formal legislation in Bangladesh, the rights of persons with disabilities are still not effectively ensured. State interventions during the pandemic have not sufficiently accommodated the rights of Persons with Disabilities. Pre-existing social prejudices have added to their plight. Due to social prejudice and myriad access to justice challenges, persons with disabilities in Bangladesh face negative attitudes when it comes to exercising their legal rights. The article uses primary data obtained through qualitative interviews and secondary sources to illustrate how the Covid19 pandemic has reinforced structural discriminations and increased the vulnerability of persons with disabilities

Life Becomes Harder: Intersectional Feminist Lens to Dis/abled Experience of Women in Afghanistan during Covid 19 Pandemic and Post Covid Development Context

SHAJAHAN, Sharin
2021

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More than 40 years of war, ethnic conflict, violence and poverty have made Afghanistan a country where at least one in five live with a serious physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial disability. Women with disabilities in Afghanistan are considered to be ‘doubly stigmatized’ due to gender inequality and disability stigmatization, and are often hidden from the social and political aspects of life. Although in the post-Taliban era, development interventions backed by international aid have been designed to include women with disabilities, their intersectionalities cutting across class, ethnicity, region, different types of impairments and other positionalities have not been explored to address different needs, barriers and inequalities across various regions. In this context, the Covid 19 crisis has made the lives of Afghan women with disabilities harder due to gender discrimination, stigma and shame, unemployment, lack of mobility, lack of awareness, and insufficient institutional support and infrastructure coupled with widespread feelings of insecurity resulting from conflict and terrorist attacks. Based on both primary and secondary data, this paper will shed a feminist intersectional insight into the plight of women with dis/abled experience during the Covid 19 pandemic in the complex political and social terrain of Afghanistan. The paper will also explore visions for designing interventions aimed at integrating women with disabilities in post Covid development plans.

People with Physical Disabilities playing Light Volleyball: A Qualitative Study in Hong Kong

Leung, Ka Man
Chu, William
Wong, Ming-Yu
2020

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Purpose: This study aimed at understanding the perceptions of people with physical disabilities regarding playing Light Volleyball (LVB), identifying the possible constraints and risks they might face while playing, and providing their suggestions for fine-tuning the Light Volleyball intervention programmes.

 

Method: Four focus group interviews were conducted with 17 participants who joined the Light Volleyball trial programme. The participants were 11 males and 6 females, with an average age of 53.5 years (SD=11.83 years). People with poliomyelitis (n = 15), spinal cord injury (n = 1), hearing impairment (n = 1) were included.

 

Results: Participants indicated improved reactivity and coordination, cooperation in team, happiness, and novelty in general as positive outcomes while playing Light Volleyball. They preferred to play in the seated position (i.e., sitting light volleyball - SLVB), and with simpler rules. They believed that their ability to play Light Volleyball was subject to their body constraints.

 

Conclusion: Sitting Light Volleyball can be one of the new physical activity options for future sport promotion among people with physical disabilities in the community. The effectiveness of playing Sitting Light Volleyball in enhancing health among people with physical disabilities needs to be studied in future.

Disclosure of Disease among Women affected by Leprosy: A Qualitative Study

Ramasamy, Senthilkumar
Govindharaj, Pitchaimani
Kumar, Archana
Panneerselvam, Suganya
2020

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Purpose: Although leprosy is completely curable with multidrug therapy, it is unfortunate that the stigma attached to leprosy persists even today. Fear of social exclusion prevents disclosure of the disease to the family and community. This study aimed to evaluate the extent of disclosure of disease among women affected by leprosy in a tertiary referral hospital in Chhattisgarh State, India.

 

Method: A qualitative study was conducted with 57 women affected by leprosy who reported at a tertiary referral hospital in Champa, Chhattisgarh State. The respondents were 18 years of age or older, and had completed multidrug therapy for leprosy. They were asked whether the disclosure of disease had affected their interactions with family, neighbours and community members.

 

Results: Of the 57 women, 48 (84%) had disclosed their disease to their family, 17 (30%) to their neighbours and 13 (23%) to the community members. Thirty women (53%) reported that they experienced problems after revealing the ailment to their family, friends and neighbours. The qualitative analysis found that negative behaviour towards people affected by leprosy still persists in the community. Consequently, women affected by leprosy try to hide their disease due to fear of negative community reactions.

 

Conclusion: This study emphasises the need to spread awareness about the disease and its transmission, by educating the people affected by leprosy, their families and the community. This should be a continuous process in order to reduce or remove the stigma and discrimination against women affected by leprosy, in particular.

Activity Limitation of People Affected by Leprosy in an Endemic District in West Bengal, India

Govindharaj, Pitchaimani
Srinivasan, Sampathkumar
Darlong, Joydeepa
2020

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Purpose: This study aimed to assess the level of activity limitation, and the factors associated with it, among people affected by leprosy who were reporting at a leprosy referral centre of Purulia, in West Bengal state, India.

 

Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 358 individuals affected by leprosy. Persons recruited for this study were above 18 years of age, married, and had been diagnosed with leprosy for at least 1 year at the time of the interview. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to gather information about the respondents’ socio-economic and disease status. The Screening of Activity Limitation and Safety Awareness (SALSA) Scale was used to measure activity limitation.

 

Results: Of the 358 respondents, 59% were male, 60% were between 18 and 45 years of age, and 42% were illiterate. About 144 or 40% of the respondents had Grade 2 disability and 60% had disease duration of more than 3 years. There were 229 individuals (64%) who had no limitation in activities, 103 (29%) had mild limitation and 26 (7%) had moderate to severe limitation in activities. There is a significant association between gender, age, occupation, physical disability and disease duration with activity limitation.

 

Conclusion: It appears that limitations in activities among persons affected by leprosy are associated with being a woman, ahousewife, an aged person, and with longer disease duration. The physical disability was intrinsically associated with limitation in activities.

Effectiveness of Community-Based Rehabilitation on the lives of Parents of Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Mixed Method Study in Karnataka, India

Bokalial, Doly
Hossain, Forhad Md
Kumar, Senthil N S
Bajracharya, Shristi
2020

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Purpose: The study aimed to identify the effects of the CBR programme on parents of children with Cerebral Palsy, living in Karnataka State, India. It also tried to find the challenges and improvements needed to make the CBR programme more effective.

 

Method: A cross-sectional, descriptive study design was used to collect a sample of 100 parents of children with Cerebral Palsy, with GMFCS levels IV and V. The sample was drawn from various communities in Bangalore, Davanagere and Bijapur, where the services of The Association of People with Disability are available. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with the study subjects. Data was analysed by SPSS using descriptive and inferential statistics.

 

Results: It was observed that the CBR programme had a positive effect on parents’ health, knowledge, social lives and empowerment. A binary logistic regression was done to find the relationship between health, knowledge, social lives and assistive devices use. A strong association was found between all the areas (p=.001) except GMFCS and assistive devices use (p=.004) at 95% CI. The odds ratios between them were greater than 1 and showed the strong positive effect of the CBR programme on parents.

 

Conclusion: The CBR programme not only has a positive effect on children with Cerebral Palsy, but also plays an important role in parents’ lives. It contributes in a positive way to parents’ overall activity.

Disability, Sociodemographics, and Discrimination: A Descriptive Analysis of Household Survey Data from Bangladesh

Ekman, Björn
Borg, Johan
Khan, AHM Noman
Bari, Nazmul
Tanbir, Moin
Emmelin, Maria
2020

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Purpose: Disability affects upwards of one billion people worldwide, the majority of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. Based on survey data from Bangladesh, the aim of the study is to contribute to an improved understanding of the experiences of people with disabilities in terms of discrimination, health, and sociodemographic indicators.

 

Method: A descriptive analysis of data is presented, from a survey implemented in 2016 on a sample of adult persons with disabilities from 18 districts in Bangladesh (n=1,900). The summary statistics of main indicators and correlation analysis of key variables are given.

 

Results: Women comprised around 40% of the sample. The mean age was 36 years (minimum 18 years and maximum 55 years). Women had lower socioeconomic status than men (p<0, 01), were less likely to be well-educated or employed, had worse self-assessed health (p<0, 05), and were less likely to be able to read and write. Men were more likely to have a physical disability than women (p<0, 01). Both women and men reported unmet needs in terms of access to assistive products and not receiving a benefit. Around 40 % of the sample reported having experienced discrimination, with no significant differences between women and men.

 

Conclusion and Implications: Many women and men with disability experience some forms of discrimination, including in matters pertaining to healthcare, education, and employment. Such experiences may have a negative impact on their life chances. However, women and men with a disability differ in several important respects, both in terms of socioeconomic status and types of disability. Such differences need to be considered for effective and equitable policy development.

Disability employment law briefing - Bangladesh

BROWN, Simon
SCOTT-PARKER, Susan
2020

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This document provides information on the current legal requirements regarding people with disabilities in the workplace. It touches upon areas such as reasonable accommodations and discrimination laws as well as other key legislation.

Quality of wheelchair services as perceived by users in rural Bangalore district, India: a cross-sectional survey

GEILEN, Bart G
DE WITTE, Luc
NORMAN, Gift
GEORGE, Carolin Elizabeth
2020

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Background and aim:

This study investigated the current state of wheelchair services in Bangalore Rural district, as provided by Bangalore Baptist Hospital, and identified areas for improvement.

 

Method:

a cross-sectional survey was held among 50 wheelchair users. Data was collected on demographics, satisfaction, wheelchair skills and level of disability using QUEST, WST-Q and CHART-SF questionnaires.

 

Result:

Overall satisfaction can be described as more or less satisfied, scoring 3.8 out of 5. Wheelchair users were less satisfied with the services compared to the wheelchair itself. The skills a wheelchair users had were strongly correlated with satisfaction scores (p < 0.01). Differences in satisfaction between genders were observed and related to multiple factors.

 

Conclusion:

Wheelchairs should be easy to use with support services being easily accessible. A wheelchair should be delivered together with a training program to provide the user with the skills to operate and maintain the wheelchair. There are gender-wise differences in satisfaction towards wheelchair services that influence satisfaction.

Estimating assistive product need in Cameroon and India: results of population‐based surveys and comparison of self‐report and clinical impairment assessment approaches

BOGGS, Dorothy
KUPER, Hannah
MACTAGGART, Islay
MURTHY, GVS
OYE, Joseph
POLACK, Sarah
November 2020

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To estimate population need and coverage for distance glasses, hearing aids and wheelchairs in India and Cameroon, and to explore the relationship between assistive product (AP) need measured through self‐report and clinical impairment assessment.

Population‐based surveys of approximately 4000 people each were conducted in Mahabubnagar district, India and Fundong district, Cameroon. Participants underwent standardised vision, hearing and musculoskeletal impairment assessment to assess need for distance glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs. Participants with moderate or worse impairment and/or self‐reported difficulties in functioning were also asked about their self‐reported AP need.

 

https://doi.org/10.1111/tmi.13523

Empowering Women with Disabilities : moving from charity to right based model

Humanity & Inclusion
2020

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HI Pakistan has recently completed a UN Women funded project ”Empowering women with disabilities (EWwD)” focusing on the social and economic empowerment of the women with disabilities. The project was implemented at Islamabad capital territory (ICT), Peshawar, Nowshera and Karachi. This project has directly benefited more than 600 women with disabilities , whereas about 30 DPOs and a number of public private departments / institutions have also been engaged and benefitted.

 

HI Pakistan collected the stories of project beneficiaries and published to highlight the impact of the project and to integrate the lesson learnt in program cycle management.

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