Therapy centres for disabled kids in Kerala must be registered under new guidelines
Kerala has made history. It has published guidelines for therapy centres in the state making it the first in India to do so. Even better, the guidelines make it mandatory to include parents.
Five years ago when a six-year-old child broke his arm during occupational therapy at a centre in Kerala, it sparked off a battle for greater regulation and monitoring of all therapy centres across the state. A battle that brought together many parents and special educators who demanded a rights based approach towards inclusion.
Today, it’s a time to celebrate with the Kerala government finally publishing guidelines for all therapy centres in the state, making it mandatory for parents to be involved at every stage. This has come about sustained social media campaigns by prominent parent support group Together We Can (TWC), which also filed a public interest litigation in 2017.
Key points of guidelines
These are the highlights of the Minimum Standard Guidelines for the Registration of Therapy Centres which come into effect with immediate effect:
- Centres are to be brought under a regulatory mechanism by registering with the appropriate authority notified by Government.
- Required infrastructure facilities are to be ensured.
- Professional service of Qualified Therapist is to be guaranteed.
- Service protocol which includes Therapy Schedule, Cost of services, Transparency aspects etc. need to be ensured.
- Facilities for parent/guardian/care taker orientation shall be ensured.
- Establishing a monitoring system.
The objective of these guidelines, it goes on to add is to bring all therapy centres providing services to people with disabilities under a regulatory mechanism and ensure that required infrastructure facilities are made available in the centres. It is also aimed to ensuring transparency and orientate parents and caretakers on the outcome of the services and to “eliminate unfair approaches and incidences of abuses of any kind that are faced by persons/parents/guardians in therapy centres”.
No more closed doors for parents
The guidelines even go into details of the services and facilities to be provided at various types of therapy centres like speech and language therapy, audiology/hearing aid centre etc.
No more closed doors for children with disabilities. If anyone wants to close the door – get the parent inside or make sure the CCTV works and record it for the parent to be actively viewing what’s going on inside. May no more children break their arms, be tied to chair or shown the stick, or have bruises in their body and minds or be forced into anything unsafe and harmful in the name of therapy. And may no more therapists tell us that they are not answerable or accountable to anyone! – Seema Lal, Co-founder, Together We Can/Special Educator
The guidelines, says Seema, are even more critical now when education of children with disabilities has gone online. “With the current sudden change in scenario and all children being entirely at homes with parents, parent training and empowerment is way more imperative now than ever before”, she points out.
Will the order pave the way for parent supports groups in other states to push for similar guidelines? One certainly hopes so given the distressing reports of abuses and negligence reported across therapy centres and schools in many other parts of India.
This is clearly a huge triumph but as many point out this is just the beginning. The challenge ahead will be to sustain the regulation in a fair, transparent, equitable manner.
Watch in Sign Language
- Kerala Commission for Child Rights demands facilities for disabled children to attend online classes
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