Disability News India – June 2010 Issue
Admission to special schools gets 20% easier for disabled peopleJune 19: Taking a more humane view of disabilities, the state social justice department has proposed to reduce the disability percentage required to make disabled persons eligible for various government schemes.
The department issued a government resolution (GR) bringing the disability percentage to 40 instead of the current 60 for admissions to schools for disabled people and ashramshalas.
According to government records, there are 15.69 lakh handicapped persons who are registered with various government agencies. The percentage of those officially disabled is less than 1.5 though the central government claims the population of handicapped persons is 3%. The state government has claimed that its latest decision will help more and more people register with the government.
Sachin Ahir, minister of state for social justice, said on Friday that his department had issued a GR making admissions easier for handicapped persons.
"This will be applicable with immediate effect. But, we are also putting forward a proposal to bring the overall disability percentage down to 40%. This will help more and more disabled people take advantage of government schemes," he added.
The minister said that once approved by the chief minister, the GR will be issued in that respect. Once approved by the department, persons with more than 40% disability will be entitled to government services, various self–employment schemes and reservations in various government establishments including railways and BEST.
Be sensitive to blind people, Bombay high court tells govtMumbai, June 18: Maharashtra government's attitude treating persons with total and partial blindness 'uniformly' while considering them for jobs under disability quota has not gone down well with the Bombay high court.
A division bench of acting chief justice JN Patel and justice SC Dharmadhikari on Thursday observed: "The authorities need to be careful and sensitive towards these people. These people are not beggars, they can perform if given an opportunity."
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Harshad Jadhav, a blind man seeking directives to the state government to implement the provisions of Disabilities Act, 1995, and provide jobs to disabled people in government bodies.
Chief secretary JP Dange, in an affidavit submitted in the court, stated that the government is following the recommendations of an expert committee, as per the provisions of the act. "Therefore, the recommendations are binding and the state has no authority to overrule them," said the affidavit.
Dange also justified state's stand on treating the totally blind and those with low vision uniformly. "If the number of persons from totally blind category find it difficult to get selected, the state can hardly do anything in this regard," said his affidavit.
The judges particularly expressed displeasure about this statement, observing that such an attitude will make the totally blind compete with either with the partially blind or those with low vision.
Technical jobs in railways for people with disabilitiesJune 17: Persons with physical disability are now entitled for jobs in railway technical services for the first time.
At Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee's initiative, the railways have given up the exemption it had sought from the Persons with Disabilities (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act 1995. The act requires government departments to reserve 3 percent job vacancies for disabled person.
Except for the Railways Protection Force, disabled candidates have now become eligible for jobs in the technical services including those of loco pilots, guards and station masters.
Candidates are now eligible for direct recruitment through the Union Public Service Commission for all class–I jobs in the technical services.
"Restrictions on jobs for non–gazetted technical posts remain, but it is significant that the entry doors for such candidates have been opened for the first time for disabled candidates", a ministry official said.
Banerjee's initiatives in the matter have, ironically, raised the hackles of another set of disabled persons: The 10,000–odd individuals who run Public Call Outlet across the country's railway stations.
"The minister can't have two sets of standards on the same issue. A benevolent attitude for recruitment of disabled people in railway jobs and an indifferent approach towards handicapped PCO owners", said Vineet Sharma, Viklang PCO association.
Fill up vacancies for disabled people by June 30, HC tells govtMumbai, Jun 17: The Bombay High Court today said if the government did not fill all the existing vacancies in the posts reserved for disabled people by June 30, it would consider freezing the recruitment even in the general category.
The division bench of acting Chief Justice J N Patel and Justice S C Dharmadhikari, which was hearing PILs filed by National Association for Blind and others, also directed that identification of new posts –– which can be reserved for disabled people –– must be completed by July 30.
The PILs were filed three years ago, seeking implementation of Disability Act of 1995, which created a three per cent quota for those with disability.
"Authorities must be sensitive to the requirements of disabled people. They don't need your sympathy, but give them work," the bench said.
GMDA set a deadline for public buildings to introduce disabled–friendly facilitiesGuwahati, June 15: The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has set a June 30 deadline for hospitals, malls and commercial buildings in the city to introduce disabled–friendly facilities.
Facilities like ramps and wheelchairs will be introduced in government offices, educational institutions, bus terminuses, railway stations and even at Kamakhya temple atop Nilachal Hill in a phased manner, to be completed within this year.
Manikut Pathak, the development officer of GMDA, said a group of experts and officials has already visited various shopping malls and private hospitals to check out facilities available for physically disabled persons.
He said not a single building has been so far was found to be equipped with the required facilities, making these places completely inaccessible for physically disabled persons.
"The GMDA has made it mandatory for the owners of commercial buildings and private hospitals to install display boards and prominently highlight the facilities and infrastructure available for physically disabled persons. It would be a tough job as the details gathered by the GMDA has revealed that not a single building in the city has such facilities. But we must go ahead since the initiative would be in adherence to various directives issued by the Supreme Court in recent years and various provisions of the Disability Act, 1995 to make public places completely accessible to physically disabled persons," Pathak said.
The new building bylaws formulated by the GMDA clearly mentioned that the commercial buildings must be constructed in a disabled– friendly manner.
The disability law unit (Northeast) of Shishu Sarothi, an NGO, while welcoming the initiative, said it would adopt a wait–and–watch policy to see the effectiveness of the GMDA's step.
"Introduction of ramp and wheelchair will not be enough. According to the Disability Act, 1995, several other facilities, like specially designed elevators with auditory signal system to make it easy to identify floors for visually impaired, are a must at shopping malls, private hospitals and other government offices. There must be guide maps at shopping malls, hospitals and railway stations for those with hearing impairment," Anju Talukdar, the project co–ordinator of the NGO, said.
In April last year, the disability law unit (Northeast) of Shishu Sarothi, an NGO, decided to file a case in Gauhati High Court against the chief electoral officer of Assam and deputy commissioners for their failure to make polling booths disabled–friendly during the Lok Sabha polls.
Hi–tech implant surgery on deaf boy at AIIMSJune 14: Doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have successfully performed a hi–tech implant surgery on a three–and–a–half– year–old deaf boy.
This is for first time that the new generation cochlear implant surgery has been conducted in a government hospital in the country, AIIMS officials said.
Aditya was implanted with a modern, state–of–the–art fifth generation cochlear implant last month. Cochlear implant is the only option available to children and adults who fail to benefit from hearing aids.
The surgery was carried out by a team of surgeons lead by associate professor Rakesh Kumar and included Kapil Sikka. The surgery was performed under the supervision of professor of ENT and AIIMS Director R. C. Deka.
'The surgery was successfully conducted for the first time in India in a public hospital. It is the most recent technology in the cochlear implant design called as Nucleus 5 of Australian make,' said Deka, who pioneered the cochlear implant surgery in India.
Explaining the benefits of new technology, Deka said: 'It is provided with features which are better than their previous models. The new model is much thinner and tougher. The system is water–resistant and has a remote controlled processor. This device will help the hearing impaired children in better speech understanding.'
So far AIIMS has performed 320 cochlear implants. These include 284 surgeries among children and adults, including patients from countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Mauritius.
PNB launches special credit card scheme for blind peopleJune 09: Public sector bank, Punjab National Bank (PNB) has launched a special credit card scheme for visually impaired.
In a circular dated 31st May, the bank has particularly directed all its branches throughout India to accept applications filed by blind having a bank account for over 6 months and have a good track record.
It has also directed that the blind persons falling in the age group of 18 to 65 years and who are at least matriculate and have screen reader enabled mobile phones would be qualified for getting a credit card.
A written pledge is required from the client stating that he would use the card carefully and legally.
Akhilesh, a visually impaired person said, "Credit cards have become an important aspect of the way we transact today. The move by PNB to issue credit cards especially for persons with vision impairment is a nice thing indeed. Hopefully this would extend to other services they provide for disabled customers."
Bus for disabled people lying unused, students sufferNew Delhi, June 8: The Delhi University (DU) has on offer more than 1,500 seats for disabled students but not a single medium to take them to the venue of the application procedure.
The Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC), a body that addresses problems faced by disabled students, though, has a bus especially for disabled people students, which is currently parked at the office of the Dean, Students ' Welfare for more than a month now.
EOC bought the bus in July last year. "The bus plies when the session is on but there is a gap during the admission session. Also, not many people know that we have a bus for disabled people students. There needs to be more awareness," said Dr Chandra Nisha Singh, officer on special duty, EOC.
But insiders claim that the bus is not plying as a driver has still not been appointed for the purpose. "The bus would have been a big boon for disabled people students but there is no driver to drive the bus. The EOC has not made the bus available," said a student volunteer, who does not want to be named.
For physically disabled Abhilash Sharma (name changed), reaching the office of the Dean, Student's Welfare, to fill the DU application form is a struggle. "I cannot board an auto or a cycle rickshaw because of my wheelchair and have no choice but to hire a taxi for the day," he says. A resident of Rajouri Garden, Sharma finds it easy to travel by the Metro.
"But it is a problem travelling beyond the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station," he adds. The university has also scheduled medical checkups for disabled people students at the University Health Centre but there has not provided any conveyance for that either.
"We did not receive a list of students who registered, from the Office of the Dean, Students' Welfare. Had we known where the students live, we could have assigned pick–up points," said Singh.
Inclusiveplanet.com: Social Networking site for visually impairedJune 7: Now there's a medium for visually impaired to network and exchange ideas. Inclusiveplanet.com is an online platform that enables persons with print impairment to find each other, to connect, build communities, and share accessible content.
Ever wondered how a person with a visual impairment uses a computer, Surf the web, Read a book or an article, The most popular, software program used by people with visual impairments to read a document is a type of computer software known as a screen reader, but now people with visual impairment can not only read articles, but can also network with the help of ? Inclusive Planet.
Inclusiveplanet.com is an online platform that enables persons with print impairment to find each other, to connect, interact, build communities, and share accessible content and solutions. In this they are collaborating with the Centre for Internet and Society and leading blind associations of the country and soon, school and college syllabi will be accessible, making this the world's largest such library.
Inclusive Planet also has a social networking site and is similar to any other social–networking site that connects friends and gives space to create a blog or generate content. Users can also share files, books, articles or songs. Besides, they can create profiles, track old friends, post comments and so on. There is a separate section for profiles. Creators of the site are now getting requests to introduce provisions for uploading videos and sharing photos, which they thought wasn't required.
The site was started in October 2009 by three former National Law School students. One of them who was a copyright lawyer once attended a conference by World Blind Union. He realized that most of the material accessible to the sighted was inaccessible to the blind. That was the root of the idea.
The website, built in three months on a micro–investment model, now has 4,000 members from 78 countries. Of these 2,000 are from India.
Inclusive planet is a social venture with a very simple yet powerful agenda – to engage smart minds across the world to create scalable technology–led solutions to challenges faced by people with disabilities.
'Swayambar' for hearing impairedNew Delhi, May 3: Leading matrimonial service Shaadi.com has partnered with the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women (DFDW) to extend support for the 'XVIII Pranay Milan Sammelan 2010', a matrimonial alliance common ground for hearing impaired women.
The Sammelan was held on Monday at New Delhi with over 100 hearing– impaired matrimonial prospects from all over the country attending it.
Shaadi.com, the event sponsor of the Pranay Milan Sammelan, has been backing this cause for the fourth consecutive year now.
This initiative enables these prospects to come together, present themselves before each other and mingle with each other in a safe and supportive environment. DFDW undertakes the responsibility of getting the brides and grooms assembled together and also that of short listing them.
Shedding light on the initiative, Nilesh Borgharkar, National Sales Head, Shaadi.com said, "Shaadi.com believes that everyone deserves a chance to find their companion and life partner. We have been conducting numerous swayamwars through our offline retail business Shaadi.com Centre and today, we're pleased to be able to participate in XVIII Pranay Milan Sammelan and help hearing–impaired matrimonial prospects find their life partner and find happiness.
"The number of lives we are able to touch year on year through this exceptional Sammelan humbles us and brings us immense joy. It is indeed an honour for us to be associated with the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women for the fourth consecutive year and we hope this association will only strengthen in the years to come."
The unique annual swayamwaram was inaugurated by Rajyalaxmi Rao, President, DFDW. Rao said: "DFDW organizes various such programs, to meet the needs of the very aware and intelligent hearing impaired women. These events are open to all caste and creed and all walks of life. For the last three years, this platform has helped the hearing impaired boys and girls, along with their parents, meet their potential life partners.
"As every year, this year too the event saw a warm and hearty participation of people who have come to find their better half. This event has seen many successful couples, who had met each other at the sammelan, culminate in matrimony. The main objective of this sammelan is 'come, see and suit yourself'. We are thankful to Shaadi.com for their support in conducting this swayamwar."
To facilitate maximum interaction between participants, the sammelan began with the introduction of each participant. Introductions are done in a distinctive sign language and that's what sets this swayamwar apart.
These unique introductions paved the way for one to one meetings where the participants met up with the others they found most suitable.
Hearing test must for kidsMumbai, June 2: Radha Yadav (30) sat in a sound–proof room at Bandra's Ali Yawar Jung Institute for the Hearing Handicapped (AYJIHH) on Saturday waiting for the doctor to conduct a hearing test on her five–month–old son, Yash.
The Andheri resident had a caesarean delivery, and her doctor told her that getting a thorough check up of the infant ?tests for sight and hearing included ? was a must before proceeding with immunisation shots.
Yash's hearing proved to be normal. But he is one of the few infants to undergo screening to rule out deafness. According to AYJIHH, most parents find out about their child's disorder after the child turns four or five. By then it is too late to begin training and rehabilitation, said R. Rangasayee, director of AYJIHH.
The institute is thus formulating a strategy to ensure screening of newborns to identify hearing problems becomes a universal practice in India.
The institute will be consulting Dr Karl White, director of the National Centre for Hearing Assessment and Management, Utah State University, and paediatric audiologist, Dr Terry Foust, who has conducted similar programmes in Ghana and Costa Rica, for the project.
"Six per cent of Indian children below the age of 10 are deaf," said Rangasayee. "If the screening of newborns is made protocol, with parental support, a deaf child will be able to enter regular schools by the age of six," he added.
"More than half the babies in India are born outside hospitals," said Dr White. "There are big challenges here so we need to come up with a variety of strategies."
The institute will hold conferences with the medical community on June 1 and with hearing aid manufacturers on June 2 to spread awareness for this cause.
DU sells maximum forms to disabled students in a dayAfter a dismal show in the first three days, a record number of application forms were sold to disabled students Tuesday in Delhi University (DU) in a single day in seven years.
The university sold 73 forms Tuesday, said an official involved in the admission process for disabled people students.
'It is for the first time in the last seven years that 73 application forms for disabled students have been sold in a single day. Along with the Delhi University staff, 17 student volunteers are involved in the process,' an university official told IANS.
Sale of application forms for admissions to undergraduate courses in DU began May 28 and will be on until June 11.
According to officials, on the first day the number of application forms sold to disabled students was four, on the second day it was 15 and on the third day it was 56. With Tuesday's addition, the total number of forms sold is 148.
Last year the total number of forms sold to disabled students was 350. The form for disabled students is different from the one the others have to fill in to apply to the varsity.
Unlike filling up circles against one's choice of course and college in the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) forms, the forms for disabled students simply requires them to give seven choices of course and college that they would like to apply for.
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By: Disability News India