Volume 3 Issue 14 - July 15, 2005

National Policy for Persons with Disabilities to be announced soon: Meira Kumar

DNIS News Network – The Union Government is in the “process” of bringing out a National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar announced in the Capital on 12 July 2005.

The draft of the Policy has been made available on the Ministry’s website for comments and suggestions till 15 July According to the Minister the draft Policy ('To read the policy click here')has already been circulated among the Ministries concerned, professional organisations and voluntary groups for comments. But the most important fact is that this definitely requires the involvement of the disability sector, and unfortunately, this announcement has not really been made public, except to be put up on the website, due to which even the bigger organisations working in this sector are not even aware of this announcement, let alone the deadline for the suggestions and comments. Moreover, this so called draft Policy is nothing but a watered-down version of The Disability Act 1995 and the draft requires a lot of modification if it has to serve any purpose at all.

Speaking at a function in Vigyan Bhavan to release a compilation of judgments on disabilities titled “Judgements on Disability Issues: Case Digest, 2005”, she claimed that the Government was also updating the list of identified posts for persons with disabilities and reviewing various provisions of The Disability Act, 1995 to amend the legislation.

“We are updating the list of identified posts so that the benefit of reservation may become available to persons with disabilities,” she said, and added that a Committee had been set up for the purpose, and Sub-committees for each type of disabilities were also set up. The recommendations are to be submitted within six weeks. She also admitted the need for amendments in The Disability Act 1995.

Kumar said the amendments would be brought about in a manner that the legislation became an instrument of social change. Also, the Central Public Works Department (C.P.W.D.) has developed “Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Free Built Environment for Disabled and Elderly Persons” ('To read the guidelines click here')and the Ministry has taken up with the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations the need for adoption of these standards in their Building Bye-laws for construction of public buildings. But it needs to be noted here that these CPWD guidelines were formulated many years ago but have not been put to use! The case in point is that the proposed Building By-laws of New Delhi did not even mention disability, and this fact had to be pointed out by organisations working in the disability sector.

A Tele-Training Module for Teachers on Inclusive Education developed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment under the United Nations Development Programme funding and a module for Classroom Management of Children with Disabilities prepared by the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities were also released.

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