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About Disabilities

Disability & Assumptions

Tips for Parents

Legislation (Know Disability Rights)

Government Schemes & Concessions

Useful Websites

About Disabilities

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines each term distinctly.

Impairment is any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function.

Disability is any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.

Handicap is a disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or a disability, that limits or prevents the fulfilment of a role that is normal (depending on age, sex and social and cultural factors) for that individual

Developmental Delay

The term “developmental delay” is typically used in school systems as a general term to describe a young child who exhibits significant delays in one or more areas. An early childhood assessment looks at these specific areas:

  • Physical development - fine motor skills, gross motor skills
  • Cognitive development - intellectual abilities
  • Communication development - speech and language
  • Social or emotional development - social skills, emotional control
  • Adaptive development - self-care skills

Young children develop at varying rates. The goal of special education is for a developmentally delayed child to receive early intervention services and eventually catch up to his or her peers. Often a more descriptive disability is identified at this time (i.e. learning, motor or intellectual disability, etc.)

Mental Retardation: Mental Retardation means significantly sub average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently [at the same time] with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. There are 3 factors in classification:

  1. Mental ability (intelligence quotient)
  2. Adaptive behavior (social quotient)
  3. Physical development (in infancy)

Diagnosis is individualized and often complex. It must include careful study and observation of a child by qualified professionals as well as tests for intelligence and adaptive behavior.

Developmental Characteristics



0-5 years

School age

6 – 20 years


21 and over


I.Q. 51-70

89% of all people who are retarded

Often not diagnosed until later age.

Learns academic and prevocational skills with some special training.

Lives and works in the community. May not be easily identified as retarded.


I.Q. 36-50

6% of all people who are retarded

Fair motor development. Can learn to talk and care for basic needs.

Learns functional academic skills and can be independent in familiar surroundings.

Performs semi-skilled work under sheltered conditions. May achieve competitive employment.


I.Q. 21-35

3.5 % of all people who are retarded

Slow motor development and some communications skills. May have physical disabilities.

Can talk or learn to communicate. Cares for personal needs.

Can contribute to self-maintenance with supervision in work and living situations.


I.Q. 20 or less

1.5 % of all people who are retarded

Overall responsiveness is minimal. Often has secondary physical disabilities.

Motor development is slow. Can be taught basic self-care skills.

Some communication skills. Cares for basic needs and performs highly structured work activities.

Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three that adversely affects educational performance. Characteristics often associated with autism are engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to changes in daily routines or the environment, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term autism does not apply if the child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has emotional disturbance, as defined in #5 below.

A child who shows the characteristics of autism after age 3 could be diagnosed as having autism if the criteria above are satisfied.

Multiple Disabilities means concomitant [simultaneous] impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in a special education program solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.

Orthopedic Impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly (e.g. clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g. poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

Common associated problems/complications with disabilities:

• Intellectual disability

• Epilepsy or seizures

• Visual impairment

• Hearing impairment

• Feeding/swallowing problems

• Gastro-esophageal reflux

• Failure to thrive

• Constipation

• Dental caries

• Orthopedic complications

• Financial

• Mental health of patients

Disability & Assumptions

1. Disabled people are the most vulnerable section of society and have been ignored by state and society alike since long.

2. Disabled people have always been dependent and, therefore, need helping hands and gracious charity.

3. Disabled people are victims of their own bad luck.

4. Disabledness is the punishment for sins he/she has never committed in this life.

5. Parents of these children have committed sins in their past life.

6. Disabled persons are born to low economic background families

Such assumptions about the disabled do nothing to help them. This approach perpetuates the stereotype of the disabled as victims and objects of pity and charity

Tips for Parents

Things a Parent Should Do

Provide a daily routine including regular times for meals

Interact with child frequently by talking, listening and touching

Provide toys, games and household objects to encourage exploration, manipulation, and dramatic play

Spending some quality time with your child

Developing independence in dressing, eating, and personal hygiene

Taking the child to various places: the super market, park etc.

Provide opportunities to play with other children

Encouraging social values such as helpfulness, cooperation, sharing and concern for others

Teach socially acceptable ways to disagree and acceptable expressions such as lease and thank you

Provide opportunities for rigorous physical activity every day including outside play

Read to the child every day and provide age appropriate books and magazines

Talk about other cultures in our community and differences among people

Establish a bed time routine and let the child get eight or more hours of sleep

Legislation (Know Disability Rights)


1) The Right to Information Act, 2005 (Getting information in limited time)

2) The Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009

3) National Trust Act The National Trust for welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities) Act, (1999)(Protection beyond the life of parents)

4) Persons with Disabilities Act (Equal opportunities, Full participation and Protection of Rights) (1995) (Equated with any other Indian citizen)

5) Rehabilitation Council of India Act (1992) (Promise for professional quality service)

6) Mental Health Act (1987) (Separated MR from ILA)

7) Indian Lunacy Act (1912) (Equalized MR with persons with mental illness)


Amended Rules for persons with disabilities

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Rules, 1996

The National Trust rules, 2000

The National Trust Regulations, 2001

Rehabilitation Council of India Regulations, 1997

Rehabilitation Council of India (Conditions of service of the member – Secretary, the officers and the other employees) Regulations, 1998

Rehabilitation Council of India (Standards of Professional conduct, Etiquette, and code of Ethics for Rehabilitation Professionals)Regulations, 1998

Statutory Bodies:

National Institutes

1. Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped (AYJNIHH), Secunderabad

2.Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped (IPH), New Delhi


3. National Institute of Mentally Handicapped (NIMH), Secunderabad

4. National Institute of Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun

5. National Institute for Orthopaedically Handicapped, Kolkata

6. National Institute for Rehabilitation Training and Research (NIRTAR), Cuttack

7. National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMD), Chennai

8. Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLRTC)

Government Schemes & Concessions

Education & Children with Disabilities:

The Integrated Education for Disabled Children Scheme, launched in 1974, to admit children with disabilities in regular schools;

The District Primary Education Programme, 1985, which acknowledges the fact that universalization of education is possible only if it includes children with disabilities;

The National Policy on Education, 1986, which promotes the integration of children with mild disabilities into the mainstream;

The Project Integrated Education for the Disabled, launched in 1987, which encourages all schools in a neighborhood to enroll children with disabilities;

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which recommends making changes in assessment and curriculum, and removing architectural barriers, to support inclusion. It also recommends providing free books and uniform for children with disabilities;

The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Retardation and Multiple Disability, 1999, which recommends promotion of inclusive education;

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA, 2000), which pledges that the "SSA will ensure that every child with special needs, irrespective of the kind, category and degree of disability, is provided education in an appropriate environment";

The Amendment to the Constitution in 2001, to make education a fundamental right for those in the 6-14 age group, which covers children with disabilities;

The draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, which has a section on education, stating, "There is a need for mainstreaming (sic) of the persons with disabilities in the general education system through inclusive education." It also mentions that children "learn best in the company of their peers";

A Comprehensive Plan of Action for Children and Youth with Disabilities, presented by the minister for Human Resource Development, Arjun Singh, in March 2005. This Action Plan advocates inclusive education, and envisages making all schools "disabled-friendly" by 2020. In a statement to the Rajya Sabha in March 2005, Arjun Singh also said that selected schools will be converted into model inclusive schools, "in order to demonstrate what is necessary and possible; this exercise will then be extended to schools across the country.

Disability Certificates:

Government hospitals issue disability certificates that are needed to claim concessions and benefits, with regard to examination allowances, reduced fares on public transport, or financial assistance for those affected by disability. The procedure for obtaining a disability certificate varies depending on the type of disability, but an assessment of the child at a Government hospital will be required in all cases. Not all hospitals can issue all types of certificates, so it is important to contact the correct institution in Hyderabad.

Income Tax Benefits:

Income Tax concessions can be obtained from the local Tax Office by the parents of children with permanent disabilities, or adults with disabilities (not including Learning Disabilities/ADHD). Reductions vary from Rs.15,000 to Rs.75,000 depending on individual circumstances, and can be claimed on medical expenses as well as taxable income. Disability Certificates from a Government hospital are required.

Aids and Appliances:

Wheelchairs, hearing aids, crutches, Braille devices and other aids and appliances can be accessed through NGOs, the Red Cross, National Medical Institutes, the SSA, or through a Government scheme called ADIP. ALIMCO is a manufacturer of prosthetics that works in partnership with the Government. Sometimes financial help in purchasing appliances is also available from the State Government depending on the level of family income.

Customs/Duty exemptions exist for the import of certain aids and appliances to India both by individuals and institutions – a disability certificate is required at the time of importation by the Collector of Customs.

Who can help?

1. District SSA can direct you to local providers

2. ADIP Scheme run by State Social Welfare Department

3. NGOs: Indian Red Cross Society, Lions Club

4. IEDC Scheme (if in operation in your district)

5. National Institutes inHyderabad; National Association for the Blind (or District Blindness Control Society)

6. Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped

7. All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

8. ALIMCO regional branch

9. The Spastics Society of India

10. National Job Development Center

Niramaya Scheme

This is a health insurance scheme under the National Trust Act of 1999 for the welfare of persons with Autism, Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy and multiple disabilities. All persons with disabilities will be included and there will be no selection. The form can be submitted to the nearest organization registered with the National Trust or to any other agencies specially entrusted in this regard by the National Trust. On successful enrolment and approval, a health card will be issued to each beneficiary.

The insurance cover is up to Rs.1 lakh for a vast range of health services from OPD to cashless hospitalization.

The scheme is free for persons with family income up to Rs.15,000 per month.

Those earning more than Rs.15,000 p.m. have to pay Rs.250 per annum.

The fee can be paid either by DD/ NEFT or cash only and NOT by cheque into National Trust (Niramaya) account with the SBI (a/c 00000030396764585) or Corporation Bank (a/c CLSB/01/090021), KG Marg, New Delhi.

The scheme further envisages that there shall be:

Services ranging from regular medical check-up to hospitalization, therapy to corrective surgery, and transportation.

Conditions requiring repetitive medical intervention as an in-patient.

Pre and post-hospitalization expenses, subject to limits.

Cashless hospitalization in empanelled hospitals, reimbursement of claims in case of OPD services and treatment through non-empanelled hospitals.

Documents required for applying

Income certificate of the working parent (compulsory)

Birth certificate of the child

Disability certificate

Ration card/electricity bill

2 passport size photographs

Who can help?

1. The Research Society for Care, Treatment and Training of Children in Need of Special Care (Jai Vakil School)

2. Ummeed Child Development Center

3. Any other NGO or other agencies registered with the National Trust Act.


The Government of India offers special concessions to the disabled in the following areas: (Courtesy of Rubina Lal)

  1. Travel: The Ministry of Railways offers a discount of 75% on fare for all classes, and 50% on season tickets to a person with disability on production of a valid Certificate of Disability. Concession is also allowed for an escort accompanying a disabled person. Those with visual impairment and loco motor disability are eligible for 50% discount on airfare if they travel by Indian Airlines.

  1. Communication: Blind literature and packages are exempt from postage and postal fees under prescribed conditions. Persons with visual and loco motor disability get preferential allotment for running STD/PCO telephone facilities.

  1. Customs concessions: Import of special learning and mobility aids for personal use of persons with disability are exempt from customs duty.

  1. Income tax concessions: The parent or guardian of a disabled person is entitled to a deduction up to Rs 40,000 in tax on income. Deduction is also permissible to an individual or family member with respect to expenditure incurred on medical treatment of a disabled person. The limit of this deduction is Rs 41,000. Deduction from total income of a disabled person has been raised to Rs 40,000.

  1. Bank loans and subsidy: Persons with physical disabilities and institutions working for such persons can avail of loans from public sector banks at differential rates of interest. Under the Integrated Rural Development Programme, the physically disabled receive subsidy up to Rs 6,000.

Transport Concessions

1) By Train:

Railways allow disabled persons to travel at concession fares up to 75 per cent in the First and Second classes. Escorts accompanying blind, orthopedically and mentally handicapped persons are also eligible to 75 per cent concession in the basic fare.

Percentage of concession for persons with disabilities is between 50-75 per cent.

A railway concession certificate, available from Indian Railways offices or their website, needs to be filled out, signed and stamped by a Government Surgeon.

The form can be completed at the same time a Disability Certificate is issued.

2) By Bus:

75%concession in bus fare is given to the disabled. In addition, attendants are given a 50% concession in fares.

To claim, it is necessary to obtain a ST & BEST Concession Certificate.

3) By Plane:

Indian Airlines allow 50 per cent concession fares to blind persons on single journeys.

Locomotor Disabled persons (80 per cent and above) are allowed the following concessions on Indian Airlines:

50% of normal economy class INR Fare or Point to Point Fare, Full Inland Air Travel Tax and Passenger Service Fee applicable.

50% of INR fare applicable to foreigner residents in India for travel on Domestic Sectors.

Full Inland Air Travel Tax and Passenger Service Fee applicable.

50% economy fare, taxes and service charges apply for Blind passengers on domestic flights.

50% fare (attendant must pay full fare).

Air Hostess/Steward will look after the blind person who does not have an escort.

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