On November 26, 2021, our founder and executive director Nidhi Goyal delivered a lecture as the guest of honour at an event for the Banaras Hindu University’s Sociology Department. The lecture was titled “Empowering Persons with Disabilities: Issues and Challenges”, and included several eminent speakers like Dr Anita Ghai, and Dr Kamaluddin Sheikh.
The session started with Nidhi’s talk which highlighted how the onus of being a burden is often shifted on the disabled person, and the ways in which our structures form barriers in the lives of persons with disabilities, is ignored. “We need to move away from the thought that disability is the problem,” Nidhi shared.
Nidhi also discussed the various different models of disability and how they operated within different power structures. She brought in the ways in which we are often socialized through imagery to believe that disabled persons are not “normal”, and this imagery is then used to further infantilize and invisibilize them.
“The resulting isolation is the biggest barrier to inclusion,” she noted. She also noted how persons with disabilities are conditioned to accept discrimination, and that everyday forms of violence they experience were normalised. Dr Anita Ghai then went on to deconstruct the politics of vocabulary regarding disability, and Dr Sheikh drew on his experiences from the field and research on policy, to talk about the issues and challenges within disability laws.