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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 136  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 104-105

World Report on Disability

Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh 160 012, India

Date of Web Publication10-Aug-2012

Correspondence Address:
Amarjeet Singh
Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh 160 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Singh A. World Report on Disability. Indian J Med Res 2012;136:104-5

How to cite this URL:
Singh A. World Report on Disability. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2012 [cited 2021 Jul 28];136:104-5. Available from:

World Report on Disability (World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland). 2011. 400 pages. Price: US$ 40.00

ISBN 978-92- 4-1564-18-2

"Disability need not be an obstacle to success!" The book begins with a positive note with above sentence in its foreword written by none other than Stephen Hawking. From the first page onwards this book goes on to open up new possibilities and opportunities for disabled people. It does this by giving due weight age and measured space to chapters like - General health care, Rehabilitation, Assistance and support, Enabling environments, Education, Work and employment, and lastly The way forward and recommendations. Each of these chapters has a clear focus on enhancing the capacity of disabled people.

In the initial pages, the book starts its journey by first defining and explaining the disability as a concept. It then goes on to give a global picture on disability by quoting examples, experiences and data from different countries. Various tables, diagrams and box items amply help the book in getting across the message to the readers effectively. Illustrative examples are given to emphatically put forward a point. For instance, negative attitudes towards disabled are explained by quoting 'bullying in schools', 'strangers mocking disabled' and 'drivers ignoring access of disabled to public transport'.

The book rightly focuses on the change i.e., a shift from a 'medical model' to a 'social model' of disability. As per this concept, people are disabled by society rather than their bodies. The book propagates the concept that disability needs to be viewed /conceptualized as an interaction and not an attribute of a person i.e., the interaction between a person with impairment and barriers and the external environment/attitude.

The book uses good examples to explain its assertions, such as "a blind person working on a computer with a screen reading software". The implication is that a blind person will not feel constrained by his not being able to see when using computer……..if a screen reading software is available.

Quotations of verbatim responses from disabled people before each chapter are a strong point of this book. These quotes add special value and flavour to the book. This approach underlines the fact that due weightage has been given to the EMIC perspective of the disabled. Use of individual comments and dialogues of disabled in the text helps the book to instantly connect with the readers.

The book provides some new ideas, for example, it discusses at length the concept of 'The Culture of Accessibility'. By doing so, it brings to the forefront the need to focus on enhancing the access of disabled to various facilities / services in society. The concept of "Universal Design" exhorts the engineers and industry people to keep in mind the potential use of any product (which they develop) by the disabled. Similarly, the concepts of "Travel Chain" and 'Seamless Transition' have also been illustrated.

The book asserts that the technology has the capacity and law makers have the power to enhance and transform the quality of life of disabled people. So, indirectly it encourages all of us to work towards using all our resources to help realize the full potential of our interventions for the welfare of disabled people.

The book is certainly in tandem with the current information technology and communication revolution taking place in this globalized world, as it discusses the use of the concepts like 'Internet Mobile Telephony' and 'Online Community'. For proper interpretation of the data given the book has thoughtfully included the appendices which elaborate on the definitions / methodology used (sample size, sampling plan, question used, the method of determining socio-economic status, etc.). Inclusion of glossary is also helpful in widening the scope of its readership. Mercifully, by addressing the issue of disability in rural people also, the book does succeed to avoid it being labelled as catering to only the urban audience. A minor issue is that some items are missing from its index, e.g. Portable lift, Manual folding ramp, Physiatrists, Disability identifiers and Parataxis.

The book suggests steps for all stakeholders, and talks about many innovative policies for disabled. The book ends with a set of recommendations for all concerned, especially the policy makers. It discusses about enabling environment, addressing barriers to participation, access and 'inclusion' of disabled. Disability has been discussed in all its possible dimensions as a human right issue; as a development issue. Limitations of the work are also listed.

The book makes a good read. The soft version of the book is also available on the WHO website. In nutshell, the book should be read by all medical, nursing and paramedical professionals. Researchers, policy makers and executives will also be benefited by going through the book.


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