December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. And do you know what the uniting factor across the world actually is? All these folks are able. Simple. Often all they need to be achievers is some support and education.

Manisha Sethiya © Via The Independent/Manisha Sethiya

Need an example? Well, there’s a good article in The Independent today about Being blind in a remote village in India. It’s written by Manisha Sethiya.

It’s not depressing, it’s not woeful, it just dwells on the positive. And it’s aspirational.

Disability probably isn’t something you think about very often. It’s something that I think about every day. And today, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides a chance to reflect on how our world can become more accessible and inclusive for disabled people. It’s a moment to think about what progress has been made, and what still needs to change.

I’m 16 years old and I’ve been blind my whole life. There are many barriers that I’ve already overcome, but also many that I still face as a disabled person…..

One of the most positive changes in my village has been in education. I know the government has a programme called Sarve Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All) and that there is a law in India called the Right to Education Act

….So I know that education has become a right of all children, and where it is being enforced, schools are changing their attitudes towards people with disabilities. Many children like me are now going to school.

My school has now got a ramp and an accessible toilet, which means that I don’t have to go home during the school day and can attend all my classes. I’ve found that people in my village have really started to respect me, and they’re pleased that my brother (who is also blind) and I are studying. In fact there are two other disabled children in my village who have also started coming to our school.Education is what can help children like me move forward with life. Before I went to school I was always at home and dependent on others, but now my life is very different. I often speak out on social issues and now help other blind children to be more independent…..

….Second, special attention must be given to women with disabilities. Many women in my area are confined to the household. They have important roles in caring for their family and home, but they remain dependent on male family members for financial stability. I hope that the needs of women with disabilities will be addressed.

But perhaps the greatest barrier of all is people’s attitudes towards people with disabilities. I’ve so often experienced prejudices that have hindered my participation in society. If we could tackle this barrier, the rest would come tumbling down.

John MacPherson was born and lives in the Scottish Highlands. He trained as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards, before completing an apprenticeship as a carpenter, and then qualified as a Social Worker in Disability Services. Along the way he has cooked on canal barges, trained as an Alpine Ski Leader & worked as an Instructor for Skiers with disabilities, been a canoe instructor, and tutor of night classes in carpentry, stained glass design and manufacture, and archery. He has travelled extensively on various continents, undertaking solo trips by bicycle, or motorcycle. He has had narrow escapes from an ambush by terrorists, been hit by lightning, caught in an erupting volcano, trapped in a mobile home by a tornado, kidnapped by a dog's hairdresser, rammed by a basking shark and was once bitten by a wild otter. He has combined all this with professional photography, which he has practised for over 35 years. He teaches photography and acts as a photography guide & tutor in the UK and abroad. His biggest challenge is keeping his 27 year old Land Rover 110 on the road. He loves telling and hearing stories.

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