HW EXCLUSIVE: ‘We can reduce disability in the world through technology’: Dr Devangi Dalal, WHO CGHH Advocate

Mumbai: Approximately 16% of the planet’s population is made up of people of varying abilities. They suffer from many disabilities such as hearing loss, physical disability, mental retardation, blindness and many more. Despite growing awareness of the inclusion of people with different abilities into society, many of them face prejudice and struggle to integrate.On the occasion of the World Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3road Every year, in order to recognize the contributions of people of different abilities, HW News will cooperate with Dr. Dewangi Dalal. She is the only audiologist appointed as an Advocate for CGHH – the WHO association dedicated to raising public awareness of hearing impairment. Dr. Dalal sheds light on the difficulties and barriers faced by people with different abilities, and the collective efforts we can take to achieve inclusion.

Here’s a transcript of the interview:

question: What are the main barriers faced by people with different abilities?

Reply: People with different abilities thrive in society. so, There are many misconceptions about barriers. With digitization and technological development around the world, they overcome challenges but companies or individuals are reluctant to hire them due to misconceptions about people with different abilities in society. Therefore, employment is a major obstacle, so they cannot easily become independent.

question: Is communication a major barrier for differently abled people?

Reply: I’ve never met anyone who was completely deaf or had critical hearing. They may not be able to hear sounds at normal frequencies, but they do process 5 or 10 percent of their hearing. With the advancement of hearing aid technology, they can hear like normal people. If someone is diagnosed at the right time, we can help them. In the UK and US, tests are done to check newborns’ abilities, but in India this check is not yet mandatory. During the first six months of the child’s life, they conduct tests there to find out the extent of the child’s hearing loss and, based on this, treat the child with hearing aids or cochlear implants as required by the diagnosis, so that they can communicate like a normal person. Even after wearing hearing aids, at any age, people speak only a few words or sentences. A normal child also learns language from its environment. So after they wear hearing aids, we communicate with them like normal people, we teach them how to interoperate languages, and then they can even speak and communicate like normal people. So when the right diagnosis is made at the right time, the right treatment is given to them, and the right residency is implemented for them, communication becomes much easier.

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question: How can we overcome this obstacle?

Reply: Just like the scientific revolution in electronic media, technological developments have occurred in hearing aids and cochlear effects for the hard of hearing. If we use the right technology, we can reduce disability in society. Even people with metabolic disorders, autism, mental retardation, physical disabilities or blindness, with technological advances and new revolutions can help reduce one’s disability. Communication can be overcome well if you understand the disabilities of differently abled people and show them the correct parts with the help of physiotherapists, psychologists, nutritionists, acupressure therapists, speech therapists and doctors obstacles and other challenges.

question: What aspects of disability would you like people to understand better?

Reply: When dealing with any child with different abilities, it must be done in a humane way filled with kindness! It is necessary to make them feel safe emotionally. We should give them the same platform as normal people so they don’t feel excluded. Being included builds their confidence and moral support.

question: How can we ensure the accessibility of people with different abilities through infrastructure changes?

Reply: The infrastructure is changing and many facilities are available for people of different abilities. But due to lack of awareness and misunderstanding, they are unable to take advantage of these facilities. The government has facilitated a lot for people and shared data for people of different abilities on its official website.

question: What should governments do for people with disabilities?

Reply: 1. The government should gather professionals who have the right attitude towards people of different abilities.

  1. Governments should develop standardized structures and protocols for people of different abilities. In the American Academy of Audiology there are pediatric protocols for the hearing impaired. Eighty countries follow these agreements, but India does not. If these are implemented in hospitals and nonprofits, grassroots changes will occur. These changes are very important for the future of the country. Implementing pediatric protocols in special schools where students with different abilities learn will help children integrate into society. So by implementing these agreements, changes can be made at the grassroots level, so the government should implement them.

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