Bangalore International Centre charged with discriminating against deaf community, Karnataka Disability Commissioner intervenes
Prominent disability rights groups have appealed to Karnataka Disability Commissioner V S Basavaraju to take action against the Bangalore International Centre for discriminating against the deaf community by not providing for a sign language interpreter during webinars.
‘Promoting social harmony by providing an inclusive platform for dialogue and fostering relevant theme based programs’. This is among the stated aims of the Bangalore International Centre (BIC). The BIC claims to promote open dialogue and be seen as a go-to place for informed conversations.
The inclusive claim has come under the scanner. This is after Mumtaj Haider, a deaf person, emailed BIC organisers asking if their webinars could be made accessible for deaf and hard of hearing people by providing a sign language interpreter.
To this BIC Director V Ravichandar‘s response was – “I am sorry but we do not have any arrangements for a sign language interpreter for this session. It is something we will think about going forward as we scale up our events”.
Live webinars inaccessible to deaf people
Mumtaj, who is Joint Secretary, National Association of the Deaf Youth Section (NADYS) and a volunteer with the Javed Abidi Foundation (JAF), approached both these organisations for redressal.
JAF Convenor Shameer Rishad wrote an email to the BIC Director pointing out that equal opportunity and non-discrimination are mandated under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016. The BIC was therefore discriminating against 18 million deaf Indians by not providing for sign language interpretation.
Lack of funds cited as cause
Along with the mail was attached a list of interpreters the BIC could hire. The BIC claims it has no funds, a response activists call unacceptable.
It is pathetic to see is the apathy of reputed institutions such as BIC claiming that they don’t have funds to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities, denying them the right to equal opportunity and discriminating against them. – Shameer Rishad, Convenor, Javed Abidi Foundation
The NAD and JAF will not let things rest. “BIC and other event organisers need to be held accountable so they don’t falsely claim to be inclusive while discriminating against people with disabilities”, says Anuj Jain, General Secretary, NAD.
They have written to Karnataka State Disability Commissioner V S Basavaraju asking for action. “We would request you to take swift action as much time has gone to waste, in this case of discrimination and denial of equal opportunity”, urges the letter.
Mr Basavaraju told Newz Hook he has received the letter and is looking into the complaint. “I have written to the BIC regarding the matter and have asked them to respond”.
The letter also urges the Disability Commissioner to ensure that members of the deaf community have equal access to webinar events by way of sign language interpretation as per Section 46 of the RPwD Act. Sensitisation training of BIC staff on disability rights should be carried out so events are planned keeping needs of disabled people in mind. The letter also asks the Disability Commissioner to pass an order that all events should be made accessible and accommodations be provided to guests with disabilities.
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