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Challenging International Development’s Response to Disability

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[Excerpt] This article argues that developing countries are often portrayed as being backward in appreciating the importance of inclusion. In addition the stigma attached to disability is thought to be greater in the Developing World. This article acknowledges the implications scarce resources have on inclusivity but argues that this does not necessarily reflect deeper prejudice in regard to disability. The development discourse has constructed a category of underdeveloped Other which is used to depict all marginalised people. This label fails to acknowledge and appreciate the different experiences and needs of people living with impairments. This article then goes on to highlight the support networks that are indigenous to many societies and suggests that development interventions should build on these rather than transplant a western model of inclusion. The article will develop these arguments through a case study documenting the life experiences of a rural poor, low caste Indian family of four. The wife and two daughters are blind. The sighted husband is the primary carer and cannot work because of the level of support required by his wife and two daughters. In the absence of a state welfare system this family is supported by families within the community who belong to the same social caste. The UK NGO working in the area uses images of this family to highlight extreme suffering and discrimination; it does not seek to appreciate how they cope with everyday life. The argument stressed throughout this article states that outside agencies must be motivated by a desire to know and understand the experiences of those living with impairments if their interventions are to be effective.

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2005-06-01

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development; inclusion; disability; prejudice; international comparison; discrimination; public policy

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Government Document

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