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If there’s another character as popular as Jon Snow from the famed ‘Game of Thrones’, it is Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion, a clever dwarf who has a fondness for debauchery, is played by American actor Peter Dinklage who has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. 

Dwarfism is a genetic disorder which affects bone growth. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 defines it as a medical or genetic condition resulting in an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches or less among both men and women. 

It is estimated that

  • There are around 2 lakh dwarf people in the country.
  • The most recognizable and common form of dwarfism in humans is achondroplasia, which accounts for 70% of dwarfism cases. 
  • The estimated frequency of achondroplasia ranges from about 1 in 15000 to 1 in 35000 births. 

The most common offensive term used for a person with dwarfism is ‘midget’. But if you were to ask people with dwarfism, most of them accept the term ‘dwarf’

There are other terms prevalent in different countries, like, 

  • little people, 
  • people of short stature, 
  • people of restricted growth etc. 

Dwarfs have historically been the object of ridicule in literature and cinema. The lack of normal representation as an ordinary human being alienates persons with dwarfism, with society perceiving them as mischievous or magical!

Almost everyone has read ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ as a kid, right? In 1937, Walt Disney’s musical version of the fairy tale, featured seven adult dwarves named Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey. The dwarfs are portrayed as childish and farcical, someone you don’t take seriously.

There are also other film portrayals like, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz and Austin Powers, where dwarfism is their main feature played upon as comedy or fantasy. 

People with dwarfism often face discrimination and prejudice, but we should know that people with dwarfism participate in sports, Dwarf Sports Federation of India  activities, have careers just like anyone else and have made significant contributions in many areas. They do need modifications or adaptations to make things more accessible, and use assistive devices and accommodations to lead more independent lives. This can include modified furniture, cars, and even clothing.

As a society we need to work towards celebrating diversity and learn not to judge people based on their physical appearance.

Check out and join hands with  The Little people of India 

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Familiarize yourself with and expand your vocabulary of disability-related terminology! 
W - Well-being
M - Mobility aids
Q - QR Code
A - Abilympics
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