Disability rights activist lives her dream, wins accolades


M. Ummul Khair has been chosen for the Helen Keller Award

One of M. Ummul Khair’s dream was to touch the waves. A person with cerebral palsy, it had been a struggle all along for this 33-year-old disability rights lawyer.

For the first 17 years of her life, she remained home-bound without education in Bengaluru. But she picked up courage to break the “stereotype” and travelled to Chennai, where with the support of Vidya Sagar, a non-governmental organisation working with persons with disability, she completed school education, did a BA in sociology and later got a law degree from Dr. Ambedkar Law College in Chennai.

“I had to depend on my parents for everything as I could not travel alone,” she recalls. But living in Chennai taught her independence that she craved.

“I believe in social justice equity not just for persons with disability but for everyone,” insists Ms. Khair, who fights for the rights of persons with disability as an advocate. “At times I forget. Being a forgetful lawyer is my biggest challenge,” she says with wry humour, adding: “Accessibility is a huge challenge not only for persons with disabilities, but everyone.”

She is working in Disability Legislation Unit (DLU) in the area of advocacy, inclusion, employment, education, policy making, besides making footpaths, toilets and parks accessible to persons with disabilities.

Apart from conducting sensitisation programmes for government departments, she has set up a group to create strategies for support circles and supported decision making. Her efforts have brought her several recognitions, including from the U.S. She has been chosen for the Helen Keller Award, instituted by Mindtree and the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People.

Rare honour

She is the only person from South India to win the award this year, and the award recognises her as a role model.

“Having a degree from NIOS, which isn’t acceptable to register with Bar Council made her challenge the same in court. She won the case despite all odds to make her dream come true,” according to the organisation’s website.

The award will be presented to her on December 2 in Delhi on the eve of the International Day for Persons with Disability.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:50:54 AM |

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