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Inaccessible infrastructure keeps most disabled students out of college, says study


So much for smart cities. A study done by a forum of disabled students has shown than not even 1% of India’s 789 universities, 37,204 colleges and 11,443 higher education institutions are accessible to the disabled.

This is despite the fact that in 1995, the government made it mandatory for educational institutions receiving aid from the state governments to reserve 4% seats for people with disabilities.

The 2009 Right to Education Act promised free and compulsory primary education to every child in the country. The reality is that less than 0.1% of India’s 2.68 crore people with disabilities are enrolled in schools. The number drops lower when they move to secondary and higher education.

This is because there is just enough infrastructure that facilitates access for the physically disabled like ramps, railings and accessible toilets. There is also a lack of trained staff and alternative teaching aides like specialized books and material in Braille.

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill passed in 2016 sets a two-year deadline to the government to ensure that those with disability get barrier-free access in infrastructure and transport systems. It also holds the private sector accountable for creating an accessible environment.

But implementation of government regulations is uneven across India. Odisha, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are among the few states to do a good job.

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