Census goes more inclusive on disability

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 11.02.11
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People with disabilities will have a greater representation in the 15th national census.

“The number of categories of disability has been increased from five to eight so that the exact number of persons with disabilities can be enumerated,” said Dipak Ghosh, the director of Census Operations, West Bengal.

The categories this year are difficulties in seeing, hearing, speech, movement, and mental retardation and mental illness. There is also a category on multiple disability (up to three disabilities can be enumerated) and another to accommodate those whose disabilities do not fit into any of the other categories.

In the previous census, the categories were mental disability and difficulties in seeing, hearing, speech and movement.

An accurate assessment of the number of disabled persons is needed for resource allocation, provisions in development schemes and aid. “If the enumeration is not accurate, resource allocation will not be proportional,” said Ghosh.

The field enumeration in the “household schedule” (for individuals) started on Wednesday and will continue till February 28.

Several NGOs took up the issue with the Census Commissioner of India as they felt that the previous census did not give any accurate data on the number of persons with disabilities.

The Disability Activists Forum (DAF), West Bengal — a group of NGOs working among people with disabilities and their parents — had participated in a meeting with the census authorities in Delhi in February last year.

“The 2001 census figures showed that only 2.1 per cent of the people were suffering from disabilities. But according to the World Health Organisation estimates, the figure was around 10 per cent,” said an official of DAF, West Bengal.

DAF personnel acted as resource persons to sensitise enumerators about disabilities and train them in collecting information on the group. “The training is important so those with disabilities and their families do not hesitate to share information on their conditions,” said Snigdha Sarkar, the secretary of DAF, West Bengal.