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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Vaakya: Special School Launches App For Differently-Abled Children - NOIDA

Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan, a charitable school based in Noida, has launched a picture-based mobile application to help speech impaired and differently-abled children in learning through augmentative and alternative communication. The app has been named as 'Vaakya' and this has been launched as part of the 18th foundation day celebration of the school. The application is immensely helpful for persons who are speech impaired, affected by autism, cerebral palsy and various other mental and physical conditions, Director of the school, Vandana Sharma told Press Trust of India. She also said that it is an augmentative and alternative communication tool and can also be used during rehabilitation.

According to the product description, Vaakya is a picture based AAC app designed for people with speech impairments. This may be in the case of aphasia, MND/ALS, after a stroke, in case of vocal cord problems or other speech problems. It is also suitable for Individuals affected by autism, cerebral palsy and various other mental and physical conditions. The app is an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) tool and can also be used to practice during rehabilitation. Even for individuals with such conditions that are unable to read, it works as an effective tool to communicate as it depends on images and audio instead of text.

With the app, a user can create a combination of custom images and audio which are relate-able to an individual user in order to effectively communicate. For educators, therapists and guardian's, multiple users can be created which can contain images and audio customized to relate to each specific individual.

The app has been made available for free download from Feb 16, Vandana Sharma said.

The Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan is run by the Ponty Chadha Foundation and is for the specially-abled children. The school also launched an e-commerce portal that sells products made by special children.

Source : PioneerNews Via PTI , 19th Feb 2017 

Loan mela for differently abled - Tamil Nadu

A loan mela meant for distributing interest-free loans among differently abled people for starting self employment initiatives was held here on Saturday.

Eligible applicants were given Rs. 25,000 loan through cooperative banks under the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) scheme. District Collector Prashant M.Wadnere participated in the mela. P.Janci, District Differently Abled Welfare Officer, was present.

Source : The Hindu , 19th Feb 2017 

Man booked for molesting differently-abled teen daughter in Vijayawada

Police filed a case against a man under Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) act for allegedly molesting her differently-abled daughter for the last two years in Nuzvid, Krishna district, on Saturday.

The accused, Thummandu Venkateswar Rao, 40,  is an alcoholic. Rao has two daughters and a son. According to Nuzvid police, her mother and some relatives knew about it but they kept quiet and gave repeated warnings to Rao in the past.  Recently, the victim went to her relatives house and told them about her ordeal. The 14-year old victim, the younger daughter of the accused, used to stay at home.

The victim’s elder sister, a class 10 student, told her mother about the molestation attempt by Rao on the differently abled girl, but in vain. Finally, the victim along with her elder sister approached Nuzvid police on Friday night and gave a written complaint.

Source : New Indian Express, 19th Feb 2017 

Jaipur: Nod for third-party construction of poor homes

As per the provision, the owners of sanctioned units had the first right to construct their homes as daily wage labourers up to a period of 90 days.

After lagging behind in constructing homes under Mukhyamantri Gramin BPL Awas Yojana, the rural development department has now relaxed norms to allow third parties to execute work on request from beneficiaries.

As per the provision, the owners of sanctioned units had the first right to construct their homes as daily wage labourers up to a period of 90 days. The payment to them was also linked with MGNREGA funds.

However, it has been observed that construction of more than one lakh homes have been pending. In most cases, the beneficiaries were either old or handicapped to carry out construction work.

“Persons who are 60 years and above, physically challenged and not able to work or monitor the construction work can give it in writing and the construction of their homes will be given to an authorized agency,” said an official.

“The payment in such cases will not go to the accounts of beneficiaries but will be instead transferred to panchayat samitis,” added the official.

A letter has also been issued by additional chief secretary Sudarshan Sethi to the CEO’s of zila parishads. The state government is aiming to complete as many homes as possible before March 2017.

Source : Economic Times , 16th Feb 2017 

Special scheme Announced in Kerala state

In recent times, the central and state governments of India started to provide various welfare schemes and plans for the handicapped people who are about to be called as Physically challenged people. In order to boost their confidence level and to provide necessary help for those people to make them to live normal life several welfare schemes are introduced by both central and as well as the state government.

Recently, the state government of Kerala hinted about launching special scheme for the physically challenged people in the state. The scheme will be the useful for those people to live their life just like the ordinary people does.

Special scheme Announced in Kerala state
Few days ago, the state government of Kerala announced that it’s going to introduce a new scheme which will improve living standards of the state physically challenged people. This new scheme will be implemented along with the involvement of the state employment department. The scheme is about to provide various training and skill development activities by which the beneficiaries would able to learn and improve their strengths and with their strengths they can find relevant jobs.
Also the scheme is mainly focused on providing suitable employment opportunity to those physically challenged people of the Kerala state. The scheme, which going to hit the floor in near future along with the involvement of state employment department, is about to teach the beneficiaries of the hot skills and necessary trainings in such a way to grab the available jobs opportunities for physically challenged peoples.
Key Points about the upcoming new scheme for physically challenged people in Kerala

  • As per the data released by the state government officials the upcoming special scheme for the physically challenged people will be beneficial for around 80K peoples of the Kerala state.
  • Under this upcoming scheme, the respective governance body will provide efficient guidance and training to the rightful beneficiaries of the scheme. The guidance would be focused in such a way that it should develop their skills which are required to grab the jobs in the society.
  • In addition to those training and career guidance, the scheme will assistance disabled people who are interested in taking competitive exams. For such people, appropriate coaching will be provided under the professional guidance.
  • For people who are interested in starting their own businesses will be offered rightful assistance by the state government of the Kerala in such a way that they can be easily step in to the startups.
  • In this new scheme, the rightful candidature will be chosen to appropriate training from the physically challenged people based on their skills, Interest, educational qualification and any other experiences which they posses.
  • The state government along with the employment department will provide enough financial assistance to the physically challenged people to start the entrepreneurship, by training them with sufficient soft skills and industrial training program.
The announcement about this new scheme came from the state governor P. Sathasivam while addressing at the other welfare scheme press meet, during his speech he added that the state government will do all the necessary things for the disabled people to get shine in their career.

Source : PM Awas Yojna , 16th Feb 2017 

61 yrs old raped a 15-yr-old physically and mentally challenged girl in West Bengal _ Jalpaiguri

On Tuesday, a 15-year-old physically and mentally challenged girl was raped by her neighbour at Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri district, 

On Wednesday, the police said that Kalipada Nandi(61 yrs old) allegedly raped the girl on Tuesday. He raped her when she was alone at home. He took the benefits of her handicapped. He easily raped her in the absence of her parents.  When the girl informed her parents about it, her father lodged.

The victim girl told about the incident to her parents. Then the parents of the victim girl reached the police station and lodged a FIR against the accused  Nandi.  about it, her father lodged
Then, the police send the victim girl to the medical examination. The medical report confirmed that she was raped. r father lodged
The police arrested Nandi on Wednesday under the charges of rape.

Source : Dekh News, 18th Feb 2017 

800 people caught in 10 days travelling in physically handicapped coaches of Mumbai locals

During peak hours, the handicapped coach is more often than not occupied by the able-bodied looking to avoid crowds. File Pic
During peak hours, the handicapped coach is more often than not occupied by the able-bodied looking to avoid crowds. 

In what should be human decency and not a mandatory drive by the authorities, the Central Railways has caught 800 people travelling in the 'handicapped' coaches – meant for the physically challenged, cancer patients and pregnant women – over a span of just 10 days.
To make matters worse, of those caught, 198 people refused to alight from the compartment despite being asking by the RPF. “They were then forcibly made to get down while the ticket checker fined and booked them under relevant sections,” said a RPF officer. Usually, the fine is R500 under Section 155 (1) of the Railway Act. The others who alighted quietly were let off with a warning.
The cherry on the pie: the RPF caught 15 police personnel, eight railway staffers and one BMC official travelling against the rule too. “Most of these people were caught during morning peak hours when people are in a hurry to reach their place of work,” said S Bhalode, senior divisional security commissioner (Mumbai), Central Railway.
This report comes right on the heels of a recent mid-day report about Virali Modi, a wheelchair bound activist who was molested by porters while being carried into the coach. She has now demanded better infrastructure and trains for the physically-challenged passengers.
On a regular day, the CR authorities catch around 40 commuters travelling in the handicap compartment. When special drives are conducted, the number goes up to as many as 70 people.

Source : Mid Day , 15th Feb 2017 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

India beat Pakistan by nine-wickets to win T20 Blind World Cup

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India successfully defended their title in the T20 Blind World Cup on Sunday at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore by beating arch-rivals Pakistan in the final by nine wickets. Incidentally, in the previous and only edition of the T20 World Cup for the visually impaired, Pakistan had been on the losing end then too.

Both teams came into the contest with a superb record during the tournament. Where India had won eight out of nine games, losing only to Pakistan, beat Sri Lanka in the semi-final by a convincing ten wicket margin to seal their place in the summit clash. Neighbours Pakistan had been going one better by winning all nine matches and they had edged England in Karnataka by massive 147 runs.
However, on the day that mattered, Pakistan batted first and put together 197/9 on the scoreboard with Badar Munir scoring 57 from 37 balls hitting eight fours and one six during the way. He enjoyed support from Muhammad Jamil, who scored 24 from 15 balls with the duo putting together 58 runs.

In India’s bowling department, Ketan Patel and Jaffar Iqbal took two wickets each, while conceding 29 and 33 runs respectively.
In reply, Ajay Kumar Reddy and Prakasha Jayaramaiah gave India a commanding start and never let go of the momentum that was created early on. The duo continued to score runs at a quick rate and maintained ten runs an over run rate after both the five and ten overs. After five overs, India were 54/0 and 109/0 after ten overs.
The hosts lost Reddy for 43 when he tried to go for a run but was caught short by Israr Hassan. Up next for India was Ketan Patel who, unfortunately, retired hurt at 26. Dunna Venkatesh walked into the middle and gave Jayaramaiah good company. India crossed the line win in the 18th over in spectacular fashion – with a boundary. Jayaramaiah missed out on the century by just one run as he remained unbeaten on 99 when the winning runs were hit.

Source : Indian Express , 12th Feb 2017 

Seats for women, handicapped in buses: NGO approaches SHRC

The State Human Rights Commission has ‘admitted’ a petition filed by an NGO seeking adherence to the various orders by the authorities regarding reservation of seats for the women as well as handicapped persons in every public transport vehicle.

The petition is likely to come up for hearing next week, chairman of ‘Centre for Peace and Protection of Human Rights’ M.M. Shuja, who has filed it, told Kashmir Reader.

“There are various standing orders issued by the competent authorities especially by Regional Transport Officers of Jammu as well as Kashmir, specifying quota of seats for ladies and physically disabled person in every public transport vehicle,” he said.

However, Shuja said, neither such quota is reserved nor any specific mark is displayed on the reserved seats for ladies and physically disabled persons both in State Road Transport buses and other private transport vehicles.

“It has also been observed that in overcrowded public transport vehicles ladies and even disabled persons keep standing with the result the dignity of women and respect for disabled gets compromised,” he said. “Unscrupulous elements standing in such buses even indulge in indecent acts and gestures,” he said.

huja has also sought compliance of the government orders for concession in fare to student community as also directions from the commission to the drivers of public transport to wear uniform during driving.

Source : Kashmeer Reader , 4th Feb 2017 

Around the World —The cost of China’s dirty air

In the largest epidemiological study conducted in the developing world, researchers found that as exposure to fine particulate air pollution in 272 Chinese cities increases, so do deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The researchers have reported their results in “Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Daily Mortality: A Nationwide Analysis in 272 Chinese Cities”, published online ahead of its print version in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
“Fine particulate [PM2.5] air pollution is one of the key public health concerns in developing countries including China, but the epidemiological evidence about its health effects is scarce,” says senior study author Maigeng Zhou, PhD, deputy director of the National Center for Chronic and Non-communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Mortality was significantly higher among people aged 75 and older, and among people with lower levels of education. The association between PM2.5 levels and mortality was stronger in cities with higher average annual temperatures.
Protein volume paradox resolved
Durable proteins make life possible in the crushing depths of the ocean, and may have evolved in life below the surface of ice-bound oceanic exo-planets. These proteins stay folded — allowing them to perform their function — under immense pressures. But other proteins unfold under pressure, rendering them inoperable. What’s the difference between them?
For one thing, volume. Now, research published this week in Nature Communications makes it possible to predict how volume for a given protein will change between the folded and unfolded state. Computations accurately predict how a protein will react to increased pressure, shed light on the inner-workings of life in the ocean depths, and may also offer insights into alien life.
“We’re finding planets with ocean that, although cold at the surface, are likely warm at the bottom,” says George Makhatadze, a Constellation Professor of Biocomputation and Bioinformatics and member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “So what would life look like in that space? With this computational ability, we can look at the proteome of barophillic organisms on Earth and ask — how do their proteins adapt?”
Spotlight on cancer drug
A drug first designed to prevent cancer cells from multiplying has a second effect: it switches immune cells that turn down the body’s attack on tumours back into the kind that amplify it. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center and published recently in Cancer Immunology Research.
According to experiments in mice, macrophages — immune cells that home in on tumours — take in the drug nab-paclitaxel (brand name Abraxane). Once inside these cells, say the study authors, the drug changes them so that they signal for an aggressive anti-tumour immune response.
“Our study reveals a previously unappreciated role for Abraxane in tumor immunology,” says corresponding author Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, Vice Dean for Science and Chief Scientific Officer at NYU Langone.
“In doing so, it suggests ways to improve the drug and argues for its inclusion in new kinds of combination treatments,” says Bar-Sagi, also a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at NYU Langone, and associated with its Perlmutter Cancer Center.
Aggression-brain stem volume link
In the study, published in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, American researchers have reported an inverse correlation between aggression and brain stem volume in children with autism: the smaller the brain stem, the greater the likelihood of aggression. The finding, though preliminary, is significant in part because the brain stem is fundamental to autonomic activities such as breathing, heart rate, staying awake. The findings suggest a very basic connection between aggression and autism.
For the project, the team examined MRI images from two groups of children with autism: one that exhibited problematic levels of aggression and one that didn’t. Study coauthor Terisa Gabrielsen, a BYU Brigham Young University, U.S. assistant professor of school psychology, says identifying the brain stem as having at least a partial involvement in aggression helps lay a foundation for better treatment. “If we know what part of the brain is different and what function that part of the brain controls, that can give us some clues into what we can do in the way of intervention,” she said. — Eurekalert

Source : The Hindu , 12th Feb 2017 

Does aggression and autism have any connection?

Help the autistic kids before it aggravates !
A new study finds, the smaller the brain stem, the greater the likelihood of aggression in children, with autism.
According to researchers from Brigham Young University in the US, there is an inverse correlation between aggression and brain stem volume in children with autism and the study will provide clues into the link between aggression and autism that will eventually lead to more effective intervention.
The finding is significant because "the brain stem is really involved in autonomic activities - breathing, heart rate, staying awake - so this is evidence that there's something core and basic, this connection between aggression and autism," said study author Kevin Stephenson.
They examined MRI images from two groups of children with autism - one that exhibited problematic levels of aggression and other that did not.
"Identifying the brain stem as having at least a partial involvement in aggression helps to lay a foundation for better treatment," said another researcher Terisa Gabrielsen.
"If we know what part of the brain is different and what function that part of the brain controls, that can give us some clues into what we can do in the way of intervention," Gabrielsen stated.
The group used data collected from a University of Utah autism study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
"Once the body arousal in a child is too much -- the heart is beating, the hands are clenched and the body is sweating -- it's too late. Some of these kids, if the brain isn't working as efficiently, they may pass that point of no return sooner. So with behavioural interventions, we try to find out what the trigger is and intervene early before that arousal becomes too much," explained another researcher Mikle South.
Studying aggression is kids with autism, Gabrielsen said, "It impacts families' quality of life so significantly. If we look long-term at things that affect the family the most, aggression is one of the most disruptive."
The team is interested in exploring further how the brain stem is connected functionally to other areas of the brain, "because usually the brain doesn't work from just one area; it's a network of areas that all work together," Stephenson concluded.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Source : Business Standard , 11th Feb 2017 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

EC: Elections in five states to be women, disabled and eco friendly

As Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced the election dates for the upcoming assembly polls in five states on Wednesday, he categorically stressed on the need to make voting process women, disabled and ecologically friendly. The elections for the five states - Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand - will begin on February 4. Counting of the votes will take place on March 11.

At the very beginning of a press meet to announce the election dates, the CEC said all women-managed polling stations would be set up. However, he did not mention about the numbers of such 'special' booths to come up during the elections.

Addressing the need of the physically-challenged voters, who often face great difficulties while casting their votes, Zaidi said assembly elections will to be persons with disabilities friendly. The CEC said the polling station-wise mapping of persons with disabilities was being done. 

This time, the elections are likely to become noise-free too, if EC's guidelines are strictly-followed by the political parties, which generally is not the case. "Sound pollution is a concern, there will be no use of loudspeakers after 10pm. Police and electoral officers will ensure clampdown on it," said Zaidi. He added that EC discourages the use of environmentally hazardous material in assembly elections campaigns.

Source : One India , 4th Jan 2017 

Delhi HC directs Delhi University to admit disabled PhD candidate

At a time when the country's lawmakers are favouring equal representation of persons with disability, a high court judgment will boost the morale of students facing similar predicament. The court found Delhi University's admission criteria for such candidates "unsustainable", directing the University to grant admission to a physically challenged Phd candidate, who had secured 63 marks.

Justice V Kameswar Rao directed the university to grant admission to the petitioner under the persons with disabilities (PwD) category in the PhD programme of Department of Buddhist Studies. "In the given facts, the petitioner is entitled to cost, which is quantified at Rs 10,000 to be paid by the respondents," the court ruled.

The candidate, suffering from 77% disability in his lower limbs, appeared for a written entrance exam on July 12. Following the test, 47 students qualified, out of which 17 belonged in the general category, 9 in other backward castes, 16 in scheduled castes and 4 in the scheduled tribes category. The petitioner claimed he was the only one to qualify in the written exam in the PWD category.

A final list of qualified candidates after the round of interview was out on August 30 in which 20 candidates had been offered admission. Much to his disappointment, the disabled candidate was denied admission under the PwD category. Several of his representation to the authorities concerned fell on deaf ears, driving him to move the Delhi HC.

The bifurcation of marks for the category under which the petitioner appeared was 100 for the entrance exam and 50 for the interview. The interview was assessed on topic representation (25 marks) and a 25-marks interview. The university claimed that though the petitioner secured 61 marks in the entrance exam, he could score only 2 marks in the interview. In order to qualify for a seat, the university said candidates under the PWD category required 70 marks.

The petitioner had drawn a parallel with another candidate who had scored similar marks in the interview. Another candidate, the petitioner pointed out, had scored 63 marks in the written exam but was granted admission in the general category.

After looking at the selection committee's minutes, the court pointed that the cut-off marks were prescribed after the interviews were held. The court reasoned that there were other students who have scored 63 marks in the written exam and given admission in the general category.

Source : TOI , 4th Jan 2017 

Railways to make 3000 special bogies for disabled persons

The Railways will make 3,000 special bogies for "divyangs" (persons with disabilities) by 2018 to make their travel comfortable and hassle-free, an official said on Tuesday. These bogies will have various facilities to ensure the differently abled passengers or "divyangs" have smooth train travel, said Kamlesh Pandey, Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) in Union Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

Addressing a press conference in Nagpur, he said the special bogies will be interlinked, will have more seats, space and signage to locate them. Pandey is in Nagpur for a review meeting of welfare schemes launched for "divyangs" in Nagpur district. This initiative has been taken to make rail travel more convenient for divyangs, he added. Pandey informed that around 180 Government buildings in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur will be made accessible to divyangs with various facilities like ramps, lifts and disable -friendly sound system.

The project has been sent to the Central Government for approval, he said. "Earlier, there were seven categories of persons with disabilities in the Disability Act, 1995. Now 21 more categories have been included in the Act. These include mental illness, thalassemia, dwarfness and acid burn," Pandey said. "Similarly, reservation in these categories have been increased from 3 per cent to 4 per cent," he added.

Source : DNA , 3rd Jan 2017

Kiosk on wheels helps persons with disabilities turn entrepreneurs

The battery-operated kiosk, Sunny Splendor, is a boon to persons with disabilities. 
The battery-operated kiosk, Sunny Splendor, is a boon to persons with disabilities.

Three years ago, Umesh, a lorry driver, lost his legs in a road accident. To make ends meet, he decided to sell tea on a two-wheeler, but the new venture threw up many challenges.

Dejected but not defeated, he approached an automobile firm for help. The firm, along with a wheelchair manufacturer, came up with a design for a disabled-friendly mobile kiosk to help people with disabilities earn a livelihood as part of a CSR initiative. The company approached the Association of People with Disabilities (APD), which funded the project. By 2015-end, Umesh had a prototype of the mobile kiosk.
APD rolled out three such mobile kiosks in the city in December last year to enable people with locomotive impairment and cerebral palsy start a business. The kiosk or electric vehicle named Sunny Splendor can also be charged on solar power.
Calling it ‘office on wheels’, C.N. Gopinath, executive board member of APD, said: “It plays a pivotal role in creating a perfect livelihood option for the physically challenged, who at times are constrained by financial circumstances and lack of qualification.”
Mansoor Ahmed, one of the fund raisers of the project, said the kiosk is environment and disabled-friendly. “We replaced the steering wheel with a joystick and the tires have increased brake efficiency”.
“I want to start a cosmetics and beverages business and my target audience comprises those working in tech parks. With this vehicle, I can commute to different tech parks," said Basheer Ahmed, who is affected by polio. For Mahesh, who has been repairing mobile phones from home, the vehicle will help him broaden his customer base. “I want to run the business outside a government office. I am also planning to buy a typewriter, so I can help officials in their work”.

Four kiosks in Bengaluru

There are four such kiosks in Bengaluru. Beneficiaries can approach APD if they wish to become entrepreneurs, and have to go through a selection process before they can get their own mobile kiosk.
APD charges 10 per cent of the ₹1 lakh that costs to make a unit. “We believe they have the right to stake a claim in our ventures. This would not be possible if we operated on a charity model, which is is why we accept 10 per cent monetary contribution from them, though we do not insist this from those who cannot afford,” Mr. Mansoor Ahmed added.

Source : The Hindu , 4th Jan 2017 

Rights-based empowerment

According to the Census 2011, there are 2.68 crores (2.21%) persons with disabilities in India, though according to some estimates, the actual number may be as high as five per cent of our population. However, there has been a paradigm shift in the approach towards the persons with disabilities (PWDs) during last some years. The government’s focus now is on rights based economic empowerment of PWDs as we observe the International Day for Persons with Disabilities on 3rd of December this year.

In India the first step in moving towards rights based economic empowerment was taken when Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995 came into being.  The second was India’s ratification of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (U.N.C.R.P.D.) now a new bill introduced in Rajya Sabha that has provisions for accelerating this process, awaits nod from the Parliament.  

Now all eyes are on the   Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill which will replace the 1995 Act.  The provisions in the Bill fulfil a number of demands of the Disabled Rights Groups and Activists who have been pressing for its early passage in the parliament.

Some of the significant  provisions of the Bill include,  making  accessibility a mandatory requirement under the law,  number  of beneficiary categories   proposed to  be increased from  7 to 19,  entitlement of  some benefits to persons with at least 40% of a disability .It also provides  disabled friendly access to all public buildings, hospitals, modes of transport, polling stations, etc. Significantly it also stipulates, violation of any provision of the Act be made   punishable under the law.

Apart from the proposed legislation, government has taken several measures towards empowerment of the persons living with disabilities. 

The campaign was launched almost a year back on the 15th of December. A flagship programme of the government, it is aimed at achieving universal accessibility of persons with disabilities and to create an enabling and barrier free environment. It is focussed on three objectives, accessibility of built up environment, transport system accessibility and accessibility of knowledge and ICT ecosystem.  According to Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, audit of   1092 buildings out of 1098 across 31 cities has already been completed in order to convert them into fully accessible buildings. .

In August this year, the government launched ‘Sugamaya   Pustakalay’ an online platform where a person with disabilities can access books in the library at a click of a button. He can read the publications on any device of his choice­ mobile phones, tablets, computers, DAISY player or even in braille using refreshable braille displays. He can also request for a braille copy through member organizations that have braille presses.

The Secretary General of  World Blind Union and President of All India confederation of the Blind, Mr A.K Mittal  is of the view that situation  with regard to availability  of  basic writing material and mobility aides like canes for the visually challenged has improved significantly. Appreciating the government initiative with regard to liberal grants related to production of books in Braille, he told this author that if  the scheme for  modernization and setting up of  new Braille presses is implemented properly this will increase and ease the production of books.

The government proposes to roll out a web-based unique disability identification (UDID) card. The initiative will help in a big way in ensuring the authenticity of disability certificates and eliminate the hassle of having to carry certificates for different purposes, as various details, including the type of disability, would be made available online.

The government has also initiated scheme for pre matric, (46000 slots) post matric (16650 slots) and the students seeking top class education (100 slots).

A National Action Plan for Skill Training of Persons with Disabilities was launched last year. The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in collaboration with NSDC, proposes to set an ambitious target of skilling 5 lakh persons with disability in next 3 years (1 lakh in first year, 1.5 lakh in second year and 2.5 lakh in third year). The Action plan is aimed at skilling 25 lakh persons with disabilities by end 2022.

The Department organizes Camps to distribute aides and appliances to the persons with disabilities (Divyangjans). Prime Minister Narendra Modi distributed Aids and Assistive Devices to more than 11000 Divyangjans at one such camp in held September in Gujarat. Similar Camps have been organized across the country to meet the needs of Divyangjans residing in remote areas.

More than a decade after  the first law on persons  with disabilities came into effect, despite  special recruitment drives  from time to time, by government’s  own admission   only  a little over one per cent of the vacancies could be filled against  three per cent reservation in  jobs in government. Over 14,000 identified vacancies remain to be filled. The backlog for the visually challenged is about ten thousand.  A report by the  International Labour Organization in 2011  said that over 73% of the disabled in India are still outside the labour force and those with mental disability, disabled women and those  in rural areas are the most  neglected.

More than half of the children with disabilities are out of school despite the fact that the government has taken a number of steps to encourage these children to be admitted to schools. Activists hope that if the Right to Education is implemented in letter and spirit, this situation is likely to improve considerably.

Activists also plead for enhanced research and development with regard to aids and appliances for the PWDs to ensure that their accessibility to various facilities is made easy.

With the fast-tracking of several schemes and programmes which have been initiated during last two years, the objective of creating an inclusive and equitable world could become a reality.

Source : The Echoe of India , 7th Jan 2017