Javed Abidi - Tribute by A S Narayanan, President, National Association of the Deaf

A S Narayanan, President of the National Association of the Deaf, talks about how the late disability rights leader, Javed Abidi, brought together various groups under one umbrella. This is as part of our series of tributes to Mr Abidi, who passed away in March 2018. This tribute was done in Indian Sign Language.

I have been working with Mr. Javed Abidi for last 18 years. All the experience which I have, I learnt from Javed. He is a very good and brave activist.

The points which I have learnt from him is so much. Some of the important points are, one, the RPWD Act 2016, second, Disability Section, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, and three, UNCRPD. These all I have from Javed. Similarly, add the 11th Five Year good plan related with the Deaf. The Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLRTC) was passed and got approved, that was very important.

Thanks to Javed, he leads me to fight for disability since then. Now I remember important points. When we were working with Javed for the 11th Five Year Plan. We had a meeting with all the IAS Officers, where a blind person, a wheelchair user and a deaf person (Me) were present. But the interpreter was not provided by the government. A government official started speaking, and Javed asked him, “Do you see him?” pointing to me. He thought I look like a hearing person and I corrected that - No, I am a deaf. Javed asked, “Where is the interpreter?” Because blind can hear and understand but deaf cannot hear, so interpreter is needed. The government official said sorry that he wasn’t aware.

Javed told him that you must remember to call interpreter in future, he accepted and noted. Then I, myself texted an interpreter to attend for communication. When the official saw the communication through interpreter and then he changed his attitude, that was good. Thanks to Javed. That was one.

Second, was gather all the disability group together as one voice. It’s beneficial in future for deaf people, for blind people or for wheelchair users. It has benefit. If we gather as one, government will accept. Otherwise in different groups government will remain confused. When different groups asked for RPWD Act 2016, government did not accept, but when all gathered as one voice they accepted and passed the law - RPWD Act 2016 in the Parliament. Thanks to him.

Similarly another example was when all the different deaf associations came forward as one, to fight against the government regarding the Indian Sign Language Research Training Centre (ISRTC) as autonomous body as one team. I am very thankful to Javed that he taught me.

I know the most important points - RPWD Act 2016 and two, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. These two are beneficial for all the disabilities. Thanks to Javed for teaching me and guiding me.

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