Volume 2 Issue 24 - December 15, 2004

Disability and Law workshop organised in Cochin

DNIS News Network - The Kerala State Disability and Law Workshop, on December 12 in Cochin, discusses information dissemination and awareness building.

The Kerala State Disability and Law Workshop was held on December 12 at Renewal Centre, Cochin. It was organised by National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), in association with Vidya Sagar, Chennai, and Kerala Federation of the Blind, Tiruvananthapuram.

The common stream of thought that ran through the Workshop was the need for information dissemination and building awareness, so as to ensure proper implementation of the Disability Act, in order for the rights of disabled people to be realised in practice, and not just be stated on paper. This Workshop not only served as a platform to share information on the legal rights of disabled people, but it also served the purpose of a meeting ground for people with an interest in the disability sector to share their knowledge and experiences with each other.

The Workshop was very well attended by more than 100 participants from the disability sector, representing different disabilities, as well as, lawyers, judges, human rights organisations and law students.

The Workshop was inaugurated by Justice M. Ramachandran, Justice, High Court of Kerala. In his inaugural address, Justice Ramachandran spoke of the need for information dissemination not just amongst disabled people but also amongst the legal community, who could ‘deliver the goods.’

Rama Chari, Senior Programme Officer, NCPEDP, New Delhi, emphasised the role of NGOs and disabled people as ‘watch dogs’ for pressurising the government for greater implementation of the disability legislations. The non-implementation of the Act, she said, was a result of the improper appointment of enforcing bodies, which is taken too casually. C.K. Aboobaker, President, Kerala Federation of the Blind, pointed out that the lack of punitive measures in the Disability Act was the cause of its non-implementation.

Rajiv Rajan, Coordinator, Disability Legislation Unit, South, emphatically stated that disabled people should get to know about their rights in order to demand for them. He looked upon this Workshop as an opportunity to build awareness amongst the disabled, as well as sensitise the legal community.

From the education sector, Prof. M.K. Prasad, former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Calicut University, emphasised the need for restructuring the curriculum, especially that of science subjects, to suit visually impaired people, who are being denied admission into courses in the science stream due to their disability.

Another eminent speaker, Padmavibhushan, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyyer, highlighted Article 14 of the Constitution which provides equality for all citizens. The Disability Act of 1995 provides for rights and reservations for disabled people, but very little has changed in the nine years since its passage. He blames its non-implementation on the lack of interest on the part of implementing authorities. According to him, “as long as inhumane attitudes add to social injustices, laws cannot be implemented.”

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