3rd of December. Yes, it is time for yet another World Disability Day. That one day of the year when we ensure that our voices get heard. That one day when we make stronger resolutions and give wings to our dreams. This World Disability Day, D.N.I.S. asked a few disabled rights activists from across the country about their dreams, vision and resolutions for 2010. And we got some wonderful responses.
Shivani Gupta, AccessAbility, New Delhi: “In a country like India where there are no qualifications required to become an access consultant, where any person having attended some short access awareness training becomes an access guru, it is very important that we have some solid and detailed access guidelines applicable to the entire country to expect some quality in the end product.
I visualize India having a detailed accessibility code regulated by a legal framework as the first most important step towards creating usable accessible environments throughout our country. Incorporating these into the National Building Code published by the Bureau of Indian Standard will have a far reaching effect as it is referred to by all architects.”
Shilpi Kapoor, Managing Director, BarrierBreak Technologies, Mumbai: “In 1995, I saw the possibility of technology being an enabler and ensuring that persons with disabilities could overcome barriers using technology. It will soon be 2010 and the vision is to make this a possibility.
The National Policy on Electronic Accessibility is a start to help us to educate, implement and monitor the impact of technology as an enabler. 2010 is the year where we should ensure the implementation of the policy in day to day areas of our lives like technology and education, technology in media, technology in medicine, etc. In short, technology in all walks of life needs to be accessible to the 70 million disabled people in India.”
G. Syamala, Executive Director, Action for Abilities and Inclusion (A.A.D.I.), New Delhi: “Education in its true sense is liberation for any individual and is the basis for development of a society, of a nation. But sixty years after independence, we still have marginalized groups mentioned in the Right to Education Act! And even amongst marginalized children, children with disabilities are missing!!
In today’s context, with R.T.E. Act in its current form, our schools will teach children to highlight segregation and marginalization. Is that how we want our children to grow?? As a legislation, R.T.E. Act should expand its scope and include lifelong learning, give equal status and opportunity to quality education to all people including people with disability; all educational institutions, including institutions, organizations, schools, and societies working for people with disabilities be brought under the same administrative and legislative framework. And above all, ensure implementation of educational reforms to provide quality, value based education for ALL.”
Shampa Sengupta, Sruti Disability Rights Centre, Kolkata: “Women with disabilities, like other women in India face discrimination from major institutions like family, religion, legal, economic, political and educational systems. They need even more protection because of their disability. Yet our democracy is totally oblivious to their needs.
I have a dream that in 2010, women with disabilities emerge as a strong group so that neither state nor society can overlook them. They will enjoy right to life, right to appropriate education, gainful employment, right to take informed decisions on marriage, motherhood and all aspects of their lives. And above all, that they are able to lead a life free of violence.”
Nirmita Narasimhan, Centre for Internet and Society, Bengaluru: “I have a dream that the Copyright Act will become an enabling legislation which will help persons with print impairments around the country to get access to and share books, information and cultural content at the same time as other members of the society, at no extra cost and in a format which is accessible and comfortable for them to use.”
Pradeep Raj, Association for Disabled People, New Delhi: “For the first time in the history of Commonwealth Games, medals won by disabled sportspersons will also be counted in the country’s medal tally. I have a dream to see disabled players win gold in table tennis for India in the 2010 Games.
I also wish that the true talent of disabled sportspersons gets due recognition, a far cry from the dirty and corrupt scenario that is prevalent as of now.”
Vaishnavi Jayakumar, The Banyan, Chennai: "Illness? Normal? I just want to feel good.
India 2010 needs to shift from the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would wish them do unto you) to the Platinum Rule (Treat others the way they want to be treated). This is particularly apt in the context of India's mental health scenario as it advocates a critical change in perspective from a social control model to a user-driven evolving system of social justice.
We need to leave our collective history aside, be it survivor, consumer, caregiver or mental health professional. What's long overdue is a rebooting of our mental health system to enable differing interest groups to converge, if not in opinion, in commonality of intent. And for state and citizen alike, to move towards a redundancy of definitions of normalcy versus insanity; and to shift focus from deviation to diversity!”
Zorin Singha, President, National Association of the Deaf, New Delhi: "We have one dream and that is the implementation of the promises made to hearing and speech impaired people in 11th Five Year Plan. The Plan promised us recognition after 63 years of neglect! And if this is not granted, we will not sit still and will continue fighting for our rights!!"
Rahul Cherian, Bookbole, Bengaluru: “We dream of a 2010 where millions of print-impaired people around the world use www.bookbole.com to overcome the severe lack of accessible content in audio, speech-convertible text, etc. by connecting between themselves and fulfilling each other’s needs by sharing their personal pools of accessible content, including books, notes and audio.
We dream of a 2010, where the reach of www.bookbole.com expands from the current 70 countries to all the countries of the world.
We dream of a 2010, where the law provides a framework that enables print-impaired persons to access printed material on an equal basis with others.”