The real art of discovering consists not in finding new lands but seeing with new eyes –Marcel Proust. We treat people on the basis of what we know about them or what we believe we know about them. And over the period of time we tend to live with our perceived notions. This is what forms the basis of our social interactions. The beliefs are so strong that we utilise them in our basic business decisions too.
In respect of disability we have since long lived with dogmas and a set of beliefs which we do not seem to be ready to change with. When a business man looks at disability what does he see? In most of the cases the businessman will see charity or a potential problem and not a potential customer. The world of business has never considered a person with disability as a potential customer. Had it been so the business setup would have made itself ready to meet the demands of this sector. The same is the case with the governments. The persons with disabilities are seen as needy recipients. Whenever they approach they are looked up to as a group needing social support or financial assistance. Thus the attention of the authorities in power ends up in a wheel chair or a few hundred rupees as assistance or a subsistence fund.
The WHO Action plan 2006-11 says that 10 percent population in world experiences some form of disability or impairment. Due to increase in population the number of people with disability is growing. That would very safely account for the largest minority. If it is so then in a country like India, looking at the population growth pattern the growth in disability sector should be significant. Lack of early intervention, environmental issues and social beliefs contribute to this growth significantly. If this is so then why does the business community not have a clear strategy of marketing to this huge group of population? If we look to banking sector hardly any branch is disability friendly in India. At least there is no such claim being made by any bank. Instead the banks are still reluctant in opening accounts and providing a financially inclusive atmosphere to persons with disability particularly the visually impaired.
Therefore if a shift in the focus will take place the whole scenario will change. When the focus will be on capabilities and abilities of the persons with disability a shift will occur in thought and action. Instead of seeing a case for charity the businesses will start to see immense possibilities in a person with disability. A customer will be visible, a business opportunity will emerge. Instead of seeing a case for assistance and subsistence a case of involvement will be seen.
When we thus speak of better education and gainful employment for the persons with disability we are speaking of benefits for everyone. A gainful employment will be possible only by providing equal opportunity through solutions. Thus equal opportunity provided and this huge human resource pool gainfully employed will help in economic growth. If we are not looking at recruiting the persons with disability to fill our job vacancies we may be missing on a great opportunity of tapping the huge potential available that can shape and change the economic scene of the country. The persons with disability form 18 Percent of the working age population. Businesses that have employed the persons with disabilities have confirmed that they would like to employ more and they do continue to employ more. Persons with disability are as reliable and as productive as anybody else. Let us understand the employment of persons with disability not as a charity but a perfect business case beneficial to everyone.