Disability Situation

Latest Disability Situation in Bangladesh

Government ofBangladeshis now very conscious and become proactive on the need for appropriate policies, laws and plans for the education, training and rehabilitation of the PWDs (Persons with Disabilities). Accordingly, various measures have been taken suiting the needs of PWD’s. Over the decades the Government has taken a number of steps.  Of late, the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) have demonstrated their keen interest in the cause of education, training and rehabilitation needs of the PWDs.

1.      National coordination: Government and non Government Level: Initiative of NFOWD

Government took initiative to establish a close coordination with Government and non Government organisations for persons with disability. NFOWD acted a key role in setting up the coordination committee in 1993. Upon the request and continuous advocacy of the NFOWD the Ministry of Social Welfare set up the coordination committee. In order to carry out the guiding principle of UN standard rules and world program of action the coordination committee was composed by the direct involvement of the representative of voluntary organisation and Government officials. NFOWD (National Forum of the Organizations Working with the Disabled) coordinates among the voluntary organizations inBangladeshand advocates for legislation and other facilities for the development of the disabled. 320 organizations are actively involved in this Forum as member of its General Council. The Forum has already achieved some successes and advocated strongly in favor of disabled persons. The Forum has taken initiative to collect, assimilate and disseminate information on disability issues to and from various sectors. As per their plan of action they organize workshop/seminars/Conference to promote the activities for the Development of the persons with disabilities. 

  1. 2.      National Disability Policy:

Bangladesh Govt. has approved a National Policy in 1995 which acknowledges the constitutional and international obligation of the PWD’s. The policy gives the guideline for prevention, identification, education, rehabilitation, research, and other facilities and management of national programs for the welfare and development of the persons with disabilities. An action plan has already been launched in the light of the policy. But Implementation of policy guideline and action plan is steel far from the reality.

  1. 3.      Legislation for people with disabilities :

Legislation with the title of “Protibandhi Kallayan Ayn-2001 (Disability Welfare Act-2001)” has been enacted in 2001 for the disabled in the parliament. The draft of legislation had been prepared in consultation with the people with disabilities by National Forum of Organizations Working with the Disabled (NFOWD). But at the time of submission as bill in the Parliament the draft Lost it’s main character and many limitations and mistakes were found after anacment. People from various corner raised these issue of amending the law and make it comprehensive and well-equipped. NFOWD leading the activities to make a right based law according to the theme of the proclamation of Independence of Bangladesh andBangladeshconstitution. To fulfill the need and creation of all and essential provisions and opportunities for the people with disabilities Government of Bangladesh has decided to amend the law for the Persons with Disabilities which was drafted and suggested by NFOWD in accordance with the provision of UNCRPD.

 4. Census :

According to WHO’s estimate 3% of total population is intellectually disabled and according to this estimate about 4.8 million are intellectually disabled inBangladesh. It was stated earlier in this paper that the estimate of WHO is not authentic and reliable to us. NFOWD and HI have jointly done a prevalence survey on specific area. Prevalence of disability of total population in those specific area has been shown in that study as follows:

Hearing impairment

Visual impairment

Speech impairment

Physical handicapped

Intellectually disabled








Out of total number PWD’s of those area the category wise distribution of persons with disabilities are as follows:


Types of disability (%)

Hearing impairment

Visual impairment

Speech impairment

Physical handicapped

Intellectually disabled


Hilly zone







Char region






Coastal Region







Plain Area







 Source: Disability In Bangladesh, A study on prevalence, Handicap International and NFOWD, July, 2005.

In 2001 there was a national population census take place in which the issue of PWD was included there in the questionnaire. But that census report was not accepted by the Government and not published.

 National Census conducted this year in 2011 has also included the disability issue in survey questionnaire, the result of which is awaiting to be published. (On11 July,2011the primary report of census has declared in which the population is 142.31 million out of which the percentage of the PWD is not clearly mentioned,)

5.      Information:

Information concerning various issues with regard to disabilities is available in limited scales. The Government encourages NGOs working in the sector of disabilities to initiate and implement various projects for dissemination of information, collection of data, compilation of document etc. The state controlled electronic media and private channels also are playing a significant role in this sector and supports information dissemination on disabilities.

6.      Public awareness:

The disability issue is now highlighted both by the Government and by voluntary organization and NGOs working in the sector of disability through different means of communications for creating positive awareness towards the disability issues. A good number of studies, reports, posters, Journals, periodical, flip charts, books, manuals, and films have been developed for effective awareness development programme.

7.      Accessibility and Communication:

Government has taken steps to change physical and psycho social environment for ensuring the accessibility of the disabled persons.

8.      Education:

Government ofBangladeshhas included issue of special education of the people with disabilities in the National Education Policy. Bangladesh Government is providing financial support to the educational programs of SWID, BPF and other NGOs. However, NGOs working for education program of people with disabilities have successfully demonstrated their activities. Integrated education programme by the voluntary organization is running well and the Ministry of Social Welfare has also expanded the programme in the same direction. The Ministry runsNationalCenterfor Special Education (NCSE) for human resource development. The National Center for Special Education was established in 1991 with the financial and technical assistance from three Norwegian NGOs, namely, the Norwegian Association for the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP), Norwegian Association of the Deaf (NAD) and Norwegian Association for the Intellectually Disabled(NFU) with the objectives of training of staff, assessment, training and rehabilitation of PWDs, development of aids and methods, counseling etc. It is a composite institution consisting of : 

  1. Teachers Training College for Special Education : The college offers graduation and other short courses in special education for the teachers involved in teaching the intellectually disabled, hearing impaired and visually impaired.
  2. Residential schools for the disabled: There are three residential laboratory schools for the intellectually disabled, hearing impaired and visual impaired children.
  3. Resource Unit : Resource center provides audio visual, mechanical and material services for the disabled.

There are 320 independent NGOs and voluntary organization and relevant Government agencies are working for the welfare of the persons with disabilities inBangladesh. As mentioned earlier a very little portion of total number of PWDs are getting services from those organizations due to the limitations of their resources.

Society for the Welfare of the  intellectually disabled,Bangladesh(SWID Bangladesh) is a National level voluntary organization with more than 7000 members. It runs 445 Special education, integrated education and vocational classes in 51 Branches throughout the country and about more than 10,000 children with intellectual disability are getting educational services through its schools and Community Based Rehabilitation Programs. A good number of other children with intellectual disability received assessment and necessary guidance in various areas inBangladesh. More than 4000 persons with intellectual disabilities are rehabilitated in different income generating projects through SWID Bangladesh during three decade of its activities. In the promotional activities of inclusive education SWID Bangladesh is closely associated with theGovernmentPrimary Schoolauthority under Ministry of Primary and Mass education. Bangladesh Protibandhi Foundation (BPF) and many other NGOs and voluntary organizations run the programs for the persons with intellectual disability and other type and category of persons with disability. Students receive education from the schools and Distance Training package. There is aSpecialSchoolfor the Intellectually Disabled under NCSE and one school at Roufabad,Chittagong(only) run by the Government. SIVUS Institute, The Society for the Welfare of Autistic Children (SWAC), Autism Welfare Foundation (AWF), SEID Trust, Scholars Special School, School for gifted children, Beautiful mind, WDASHI, PROSHIPS, PROSHISHES, CDD, CRP, CSID, DRRA are also providing services to persons with intellectual disability, autistic children and multiple handicapped for their potential development in individual and social inclusion with establishment of rights, justice and dignity.

Bangladesh Army has initiated and started activities for the education and training of the persons with intellectual disabilities, Autistic and Multiple disabilities. With the Technical and Professional cooperation of SWID Bangladesh they started the first programme in the Dhaka Cantonment in the year 2006. Gaining the experiences and learning from the first center the authority ofBangladesharmy has decided to open the School and center in every cantonment according to the need of respective area. Now these institution and centers are professionally very resourceful. They have Schools at Dhaka,Chittagong, Jessore and Bogra in the Cantonment area. Bangladesh Navy also running a School inChittagong.

Committee for Inclusive Education has been formed by the Government under Education Ministry with representation of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of primary and Mass Education to promote education of the children with disabilities in the regular schools. There are so many children with intellectual disability (CWID) are now enrolled and getting education support formGovernmentPrimary Schoolunder this inclusive education programme.

9.      Medical Care

Government ofBangladeshhas incorporated appropriate provisions for prevention of avoidable disablement and proper Medical and rehabilitation measure for PWD’s in the National Health Policy.

In medical college hospitals and medical centers including all health care centers and institution has given the directives from the department of health to take care of the PWDs in relation to health and medical issue. Child development center including early intervention related activities has opened inDhakaShishuHospitaland all theMedicalColleges. A new Department has recently opened in theBongobondhuMedicalUniversityfor taking care of the children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The title of the department is “Department of Neuro development and autism.”

10.  Training and Employment

Government has made adequate provision in the National Policies for people with disabilities to create employment opportunities. Further Government has made quota of jobs for the people with disabilities in category 3 & 4 of the Government services. NGOs has taken community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program for gainful employment for the people with disabilities in ruralBangladesh. Recently Government has developed inclusive vocational education and training for the PWDs. Promotional activities for expatiating the inclusive vocational education and training (IVET) is now on the way to activate under National skill development policy and Technical vocational education and training (TVET) under Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education is starting this programme as focal Ministry and Ministry of Labor and employment, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Women and Children affairs is working closely with this programme.

11.  Family life and personal integration

The constitution ofBangladeshand disabilities welfare Act, ensures family life and integration of people with intellectual disabilities without any discrimination. Due to the fact of unawareness and ignorance it was most missing agenda. Now the situation is changing in positive direction.

12. Rehabilitation Services     

      Government encourages rehabilitation of people with disabilities through rural social services programme of Ministry of Social Welfare and NGOs have most successfully implemented pilot projects for rehabilitation of people with disabilities in several areas inBangladesh.

13. Assistive devices

Government has established anAssistiveDeviceProductionCenterand NGOs have also set-up similar programs to meet the growing demand of assistive devices for PWDs and self advocacy program.

 14. Self-help Organization

      The self-help organizations with a view to establish the self-advocacy movement of people with disabilities have been established and have ensured participation and representation at different levels on issues concerning disabilities. Persons with Intellectual Disability are getting support from SWID and many other organization to make himself self reliant. With the cooperation of parents and siblings SWID made a group of PWID in self advocacy programme.

15. Regional Cooperation

The Government of Bangladesh recognizes the need and importance of regional cooperation on disability issues. With this end in view, the then Head of the Government of Bangladesh proposed at the 10th SAARC SUMMIT for establishing SAARC Disability Fund for improving the quality of the life of people with disabilities of South Asia Region. The proposal has been accepted and it was expected that effective mechanism will be evolved for better co-operation among the countries ofSouth Asia to develop programs of people with disabilities. But till now that proposal is not Implemented. The then Prime Minister ofBangladesh is now also the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Hoping that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will raise her voice in this issue in SAARC level. Regional CBR network of South Asia has been established andBangladesh is an active member of the same.

16.    International Cooperation

Bangladeshgovernment attaches great significance to international cooperation and exchange of views. Government participates at every level of international conferences, seminars, workshops; and NGOs working in the sector of disabilities and have played a key role in the movement of people with disabilities. Bangladesh Govt. has ratified the Child Rights Convention (UNCRC) and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) along with its optional protocol.

17.     Monitoring and Evaluation

Government is trying to maintain continuous effective monitoring and evaluation of program for the people with disabilities taken both by the Govt. and NGOs. A monitoring committee has formed in this regard by the Ministry of Social Welfare.

18.    Other bodies

a)      National Foundation for the Development of the Disabled (NFDD): In order to develop the life living situation of the persons with disabilities and provide necessary suggestion and guidance to the Government and NGOs regarding disability related issues a central organization called ‘National Foundation for the Development of the Disabled (NFDD)’ with representatives from Government and NGOs has been established by the govt. of Bangladesh. Recently the Govt. has established a Service Centre for the Disabled and an Autism Resource center under NFDD.

b)      Higher education and training :- There is a Department of Special Education in theInstituteofEducationand Research,UniversityofDhakawhich offers Graduation and Master’s Degree on Special Education in visual impairment, intellectual disability and hearing impairment.TeachersTrainingCollegefor Special Education underNationalCenterfor Special Education and Bangladesh Protibandhi Foundation (BPF) also offers graduation in Special Education. It was mentioned earlier that SWID is running the National Institution andTeacherTrainingCollegewhich offer a Graduation degree on Intellectual Disability. CRP is running a Health professional institute which is offering the graduation and post graduation degree on Physiotherapy, Speech therapy and Occupational therapy. These institutions are affiliated withDhakaUniversity.

c)     ChildDevelopmentCenter;ChildDevelopmentCenterunderShishuHospitalis an unique agency for providing medical and relevant support to disabled children.

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