The Association of People with Disability, or APD, is a Registered Society, founded in 1959, working at the regional level, with international affiliations.

As part of their endeavour in the area of early childhood care and development, the staff works with teachers, caregivers, parents, and children up to the age of six. This involvement stretches across slums in Bangalore, including Agrahara, Neelasandra Slum, Chandrappa Nagar, Siddapura, Doddigunte, Momenpur and Farukyanagar; and villages in rural Karnataka, including Srinivaspura and Chintamani Taluk in Kolar district.

While APD's focus is community health and the prevention of disability, records find that their work with and for children dates back to 1973, and the establishing of the Shradhanjali Integrated School. With about 200 students, of which 80 per cent are disabled, this school is a long-term, ongoing project, with classes from nursery to Std 7.

Other projects mentioned are:

  • CBR Projects: started in 1987. From 2000, Pre-primary centres similar to balwadis and anganwadis have been set up, where there is monthly training for workers in batches of between 20 and 30 people, and an upgrading of their existing skills by resource experts brought in specifically for this situation. Under the CBR umbrella, urban slum teachers are trained every quarter on curriculum development, and there are also training programmes for mothers.
  • 1989: with Dr Veda Zachariah. This began with identifying children with severe malnutrition, the distribution of a nutrition supplement made by women from within the community, and slow inroads in to tackling other health issues.
  • Periodic screening at medical camps, while started many years ago, has become active from 2001.
  • Disability screening at anganwadis, including training and the basic sensitisation of teachers to recognise the early stages of disability, in 2002.
  • A skill-sharing get-together at the Taluk level organised for 135 anganwadi children, in 2002.

It is important to understand that these are the endeavours recorded, and while APD is rich in experience, its documentation practices are poor, as is its orientation towards research.

APD's contribution lies in training, which, over the years, has included:

  • Training programmes for mothers’ groups in the management of physical disability and cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and muscular dystrophy.
  • Awareness programmes on malnutrition and the promotion of Sanjivini Trust’s nutrition supplement.
  • Quarterly workshops for Anganwadi teachers.
  • Training programmes for 27 schoolteachers and 45 Anganwadi Teachers to promote the integration of children with disability.

They have also developed communication materials (films, CDs, posters, plays, exhibitions, etc), the most recent being Splash 2002 (a painting competition to promote inclusive education), and Samanvaya 2002 (an art exhibition cum sale, at ChitraKala Parishad); and published two books: Challenging Disability: 40 Years of an Indian NGO, and Urban Slums Reach Out – An APD Community Experience.

APD works in close contact with a number of organisations, and are a part of many networks, including the Disability Network, the CBR Network, FORCES, Ankur – SJSRY Government Programme, and National Information for Parenting.

A pre-primary centre was set up in March 2003 in the New Lingarajapuram slum area, targeting immigrant construction workers. Long-term goals include lowering infant mortality, more schools and greater literacy, and a shift in focus from the disabled to the entire community. To achieve this, APD needs professional volunteers to help with children at risk, and believes that the way forward is through parent education programmes, and more inclusive education, by “integrating” special children in to the mainstream.

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