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The World Health Organization considers “Disabilities as an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions… Disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person's body and features of the society in which he or she lives.” In common parlance, it is now referred to as “differently abled”.

According to latest Census, out of 120 crore population of India, more than two percent or about two crore fall under the label of differently abled.

Ideally speaking, the liberal and humanist framework of the Indian Constitution accepted by independent India more than six decades ago should have provided a solid foundation to act on the needs of its differently abled people. Unfortunately, a merely legislative approach has been preferred so far. Thereby, only token steps have been taken and the country remains largely “unfriendly” to the differently abled.

In this situation differently abled stand no chance in securing any relief. The issue is also psychological, to the extent that, a common person is not interested in addressing any problem till he or she or the family is not personally facing the challenge. In addition, a curious mixture of thoughts and emotions simultaneously race through a “normal” Indian whenever he or she encounters such a differently-abled person. The first instinct, though most will not accept it, is to avoid any interaction with the differently abled person. Then if forced to interact, the exchange will be carried out in the fashion of a superior versus inferior/freak type of interaction. Working in the background will be a feeling of pity towards the differently abled person.

On this background it became essential for us—the parents of blind children having other multiple disabilities such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, Deaf & Dumbness etc.—to come together to form an organization and help ourselves in whatever way we can.

This is how Sobti Parents Association was set up in 2004. Our children are part of the Home Visit Programme of National Association for the Blind (NAB). It was the inspiration and help of NAB that motivated us to come together and form the Association. We have a membership of around 110. Our organization is registered under Trust and Society's Acts and we have been issued 80G Certificate by the Income Tax Authorities. We have been given a permit under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Incidentally we may point out that there are many organizations working with an aim to help disable people, but most of them are limited to one handicap, either mental or physical. Ours is the organization which tries to help the children and youngsters who are blind and also have multiple handicaps. Most of the members of our organization come from lower strata of the society and they do not have any financial or other means to help their children.

We are at present running Vocational Training Centre's at Thane and Andheri in Mumbai. The children and youngsters who attend the Centre's, are being trained in various trades, such artificial jewelry, food products, Ornamental Lamps, Greeting Cards etc. We also make an effort to teach through Braille academic curriculum to those children who have some capacity to learn. These children have been allowed to appear at the local Municipal Corporation's schools for annual examination. We have an association with NAB and we get expert advice from them and they also offer help in training our teaching staff. Similarly, we also have an association with Perkins International, Boston, USA; a premier organization in the field of training and helping blind children with multiple disabilities. Perkins provides us help for organizing training in our Pre Vocational Centre's.