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Tulane University

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Program Name

India: Public Health, Gender, and Community Action


It is estimated that as many as 90 million people living in India experience some sort of disability (The World Bank, 2007). As India’s population keeps growing and aging, not only will the medical aspects, but also the societal impacts of disability need to be brought to the forefront of discussion, developmental strategy, and policy implementation. This study sought to analyze factors influencing the process of seeking help from formal and informal sources for people with physical disabilities. Data was collected from 10 people with physical disabilities receiving a variety of mobility aids from the NGO, Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS). Six other professionals working at BMVSS and another Indian NGO, Sangath were also interviewed. Overall, it discovered that help-seeking is very nuanced and elicits conflicting thoughts and feelings about independence, dependence, and sympathy. While seeking help from a formal source may be a more straightforward process, several barriers still exist. Informal everyday help-seeking for mobility related difficulties were much more complicated and situational and require further in-depth research. While disability advocates continue to fight for rights, stigma and inaccessibility of services, support, and opportunity still embody the everyday lives of people with disabilities.


Asian Studies | Disability Studies | Health Policy | Health Services Research | Medicine and Health | Orthopedics | Orthotics and Prosthetics | Public Health Education and Promotion | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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