Accessibility January 18, 2020
NCPEDP sets forth advocacy agenda for disabled community for 2020-21
The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People held a meeting with disability rights groups from different states to chart the advocacy agenda for 2020-21. Participants from 12 states were part of this important meeting.
The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) constituted a committee of 20-25 key leaders and experts from the Indian disability movement called the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (NCRPD) in 2008.
Setting future goals for India’s disabled community
A think tank, NCRPD’s goal is to mainstream disability issues to develop advocacy campaigns on them. Efforts that have led to path breaking results like the enactment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
This week the NCPEDP organised a meeting of the National Disability Network (NDN) and NCRPD members with the support of Mphasis FI Foundation. Forty participants from 13 states brainstormed to set the advocacy agenda for 2021-21. Among those present was K V S Rao, Director, Department of Persons with Disabilities (DePwD). He said that the while DePwD works as a nodal agency for all disability-related issues, these matters must be taken up by various ministries individually as is required by the Act with the technical support of DePwD.
The federal structure of the Constitution makes the implementation of the RPWD Act a challenge as the responsibility for this lies with the state governments. Issues such as getting disability certificates is a challenge for this reason. This is further aggravated by the lack of specialised doctors in several states, especially rural areas.
The DePWD is making efforts to address these challenges by standardising the process of getting UDID Cards, and notifying a standard medical board with provisions to get specialists from other locations when required. The constitution of a Central Advisory Board as well as advisory board at the states supports the development of national and state-level policies on Disabilities. Following the judgement of the Bombay High Court, the Rehabilitation Council of India is developing a training module for sensitisation of key government functionaries about provisions of the RPWD Act. The National Fund on Disability constituted with a corpus of 230 crores is meant to support sports and cultural activities for disabled people.
Huge gaps between RPWD Act & Implementation
The NCRPD members used this occasion to highlight various gaps is in the implementation of the Act:-
- Lack of coordination between DePwD and other ministries has excluded the concerns of persons with disabilities from various policies related to disaster management, motor vehicles, Right to Information, etc.
- The New Education Policy, 2020 doesn’t address the need for inclusive education of children with disabilities as mandated by the Act. It lacks provisions for intervention in early childhood care and education (ECCE). There is no provision for special educators and teachers training. No budget has been allocated towards inclusive education. There are no standards on inclusive schools, online curriculum and resource centres.
- While the Act mandates that all public services shall be accessible, no penalty is specified for its violation. The sad state of roads and public transport in India makes it inaccessible for persons with disabilities and is also a threat to their lives. Guidelines for accessible websites have not been explicitly applicable to private websites.
- Implementation of UDID Card Is extremely slow and those that have received the cards have noticed several errors.
- Applications for correction is a cumbersome process. Many applications don’t even get a response. Many patients with Muscular Dystrophy are bedridden which makes it impossible for them to be assessed by the medical authority and get a certificate.
- Issuance of disability certificate takes more than a year to process when it should be 30 days. The issuing authority is not aware about the various disabilities. Many states still follow the earlier assessment guidelines.
- Severe lack of data on disability which also affects the policies negatively. The Census 2021 should capture data on disability more accurately.
- As the certificates and UDID Cards are only given to persons with benchmark disabilities, the data that will be collected through them will also underrepresent the number of persons with disabilities in India.
- Representatives from National Association of Deaf discussed how the problem of low internet bandwidth makes it impossible for a deaf person to communicate as they rely on video chat for the same.
- There is also a need for national bodies like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission of Women, Law Commission of India and civil society organisations to perform a greater role in ensuring that the rights of persons with disability are secured.
Acknowledging that the Act is way ahead of society in terms of implementation, Mr Rao said that the DePWD is in the process of drafting a national policy for disabilities and all attempts will be made to address the issues in the upcoming National Policy on Disability.
The points to be taken forward include collection of disaggregated data for persons with all disabilities, access to justice and training of judicial and non-judicial officers on the provisions under the Act, to name a few.
The NDN and NCRPD meetings provide information on the status of the life of a person with a disability. It sets the tone for future advocacy efforts. This meeting was focused on the issue of millions of people with disabilities missing from official data and with Census around it is crucial that all the stakeholders work together to ensure that data doesn’t underrepresented the number of disabled people in India. The other important issue which was flagged was the lack of implementation of the RPWD Act which is creating serious gaps and discrimination towards disabled people. – Arman Ali, Executive director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People
The Government and Civil Society Organisations should come together in the true spirit of “Nothing About Us Without Us” to ensure that the rights provided under the RPWD Act can be transitioned into reality.
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