Dimensions of invisibility: insights into the daily realities of persons with disabilities living in rural communities in India

Shivani Gupta*, Luc P. de Witte, Agnes Meershoek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Persons with disabilities in rural India do not have the opportunity to lead a self-determined life and be included in their community as required by the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. To investigate their experience of living everyday life and the amount of agency they are able to exercise, in-depth interviews were undertaken. The Capability Approach (CA) was used to analyse the situation that was seen in terms of outcome of the interplay between internal and external factors resulting in loss of agency. The results show that the dependency they experience due to lack of adequate support to undertake activities and being completely dependent on the family places them in a vicious circle of 'self-worthlessness'. Reducing the dependency disabled people face and changing perceptions of the community towards disability may break this circle. Points of Interest In rural India persons with disabilities are unable to live a self- determined life and to participate in home and community activities. The research shows that the interaction between personal, social and environmental factors makes it difficult for persons with disabilities to live a self-determined life and increase dependency. The dependency encountered, coupled with the negative attitude of the community towards disability, places the persons with disabilities in a vicious circle of 'worthlessness'. The recommendations suggest reducing the dependency of persons with disabilities on their families, improving the perception of disability in the community and increasing self-esteem of persons with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1285-1307
Number of pages23
JournalDisability & Society
Issue number8
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2021


  • Rural India
  • invisibility
  • support structure
  • inaccessibility
  • capability approach

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