The Government's decision to address persons with disabilities as differently abled is a welcome step towards a change in attitude, M. Vijayakumar, IAS, Member Secretary, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu, said here on Monday.

Inaugurating an international seminar on Positive Perspectives of Adapted Physical Education held at the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University (RKMVU), Vijayakumar said, “There is a need for positive change in attitude towards people with disabilities. The government decision to address them as ‘differently abled' is a welcome step towards this.

The two-day seminar is organised by the Faculty of General and Adapted Physical Education and Yoga (FGAPEdY) and International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity (IFAPA), Belgium. In his key note address, Mr. Vijayakumar said concentrating on mental education alone was not enough, and equal importance needed to be given to physical and spiritual education. Differently abled people might have external physical disabilities, but internally they would be stronger than persons with no disabilities. “Man should have more social concerns than thoughts about the self,” he added.

Shayke Hutzler, former president, IFAPA, said the RKMVU was one of its kind in Asia that focussed on physical education of the differently abled. Explaining the role of the IFAPA, he said the organisation held annual meetings across the world with the aim to increase knowledge and professional expertise in adapted physical education across cultures.

S. Alagesan, Head, RKMVU, FGAPEdY, said there was a need to impart knowledge and awareness about disabilities around the world. Adapted physical education could be used to address the unique needs of people who are differently abled and aid them in their motor functions. The institute had implemented teacher training programme focussing on physical education and yoga. Swami Anugrahananda, Assistant Administrative Head, RMKVU, said the seminar aimed at sharing information on modern trends in policies, practises, innovations, and issues in the field of physical education from different countries.

“We sometimes don't utilise the abilities that are inherent in us. A person with hearing impairment cannot understand what we speak; in the same way we may not be able to understand their sign language. Situations bring out the best in people,” he said. There are situations when the differently abled people surpass us in their abilities,” he said. The topics covered include Perspectives on Education and Rehabilitation through Adapted Physical Education, Sports for Hearing Impaired, Cricket for Paraplegic, Hydreotherpay, Special Olympics and the need for training programmes in recreation and sports for differently abled.