8 chapter 1: Disability and the community
Women with disabilities show the way in Bangalore, India
In the southern Indian city of Bangalore, 4 young women with physical
disabilities—Shahina, Noori, Devaki and Chandramma—make and fit
other women with rehabilitation aids and appliances. They work at the
Rehabilitation Aids Workshop by Women with Disabilities (RAWWD)
which was started in 1997 by 8 women with disabilities who were trained
by an NGO called Mobility India to make mobility aids.
Although there were other facilities, until RAWWD started, only male
technicians were available to measure and make the aids, and women with
disabilities were hesitant to go to them. They were embarrassed to let men
measure and fit them with appliances. Because of this, many women did
not use the appliances which would have made them mobile.
RAWWD now makes a wide variety of rehabilitation aids for the ankles,
feet and knees. These include crutches, walkers, shoes, belts, and braces, as
well as prosthetics (artificial legs and feet).
As the women at RAWWD increased their confidence and skills, they
began providing services to other organizations working for people with
disabilities, and now also provide services to several hospitals and private
doctors in Bangalore.
The women get the materials to make the aids, keep records of the
clients, conduct regular follow-up visits, and manage their business.
RAWWD also encourages other women with disabilities to become
technicians and trains them to make and repair rehabilitation aids and
appliances. This promotes equality for women with disabilities, especially
women who have been abandoned by their families, and also provides
them with a livelihood.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007