Disability News India โ€“ July 2010 Issue

Right to Information Act workshop for visually impaired people

CHENNAI, July 11: A oneโ€“day workshop on Right to Information Act (RTI) for visually impaired was organised by National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH) in collaboration with the Visually Impaired Women's Association here on Saturday, July 10, 2010.

The workshop aimed at sensitising and creating awareness among the visually impaired of the RTI Act and how it could be used effectively for personal welfare.A group of lawyers and experts in the RTI field participated in the event. They spoke about its important provisions and procedural aspects.

The chief guest Auxalia Peter, a human rights activist, inaugurated the workshop in the presence of advocate Arokia Mani Raj and Regional Director of NIVH, Dr L Arivanandham. "Such laws and acts will be useful only when the government actively involves citizens and other organisations in it," said Peter.

He urged the participants to use the RTI Act for the right purposes and not for harassing someone or to settle personal grudges. "One of the objectives of the workshop is to develop manpower and bring disabled people into mainstream by educating them on various subjects," said Arivandham.

The workshop saw the participation of 58 visually impaired people, including students, professors and lawyers.

The institute conducts similar programmes every year to help visually impaired persons develop their personality and build selfconfidence. This year they have listed 19 such programmes.

Source: http://expressbuzz.com

Former President Kalam cherishes his role in making disabled children walk

CHENNAI, July 11: He and his team used rocket science for designing an artificial limb weighing just 400 grams. And he cherishes it more than launching rockets. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam said it was "bliss" to see children smile after wearing the lightโ€“weight prosthesis on their legs designed by him and his team.

"When we launched the first indigenous rocket SPV 3, when we successfully sent Agni and tested nuclear weapons in Pokran, I was really very happy. But today when I see children run around and cycle with the artificial limbs we designed, it is sheer bliss," Kalam said delivering the 12th convocation address of the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University. "I had seen these children struggling with the artificial limbs that weighed at least 4 kg. My team made one with composite heat materials used for rockets. This one is 10 times lighter," he said.

On Saturday too, he was at his usual best, in igniting minds. Kalam narrated stories of three eminent doctors, Maharashtraโ€“based Dr Sudhakar Kore who quit his job abroad to start a hospital for the people in Warana valley, Maduraiโ€“based Dr Venkatasamy who grew up in a rustic setting but went on to establish the worldโ€“class Aravind Eye hospital to wipe out reversible blindness and of Dr H Sudarshan who devoted himself to the health care of the tribals in in Karnataka.

He then asked the 10,955 candidates who received degrees and diplomas in medical, dental, Indian medicine and allied health sciences to complete one task before the hit the bed on Saturday: Write in a paper or key into their computers the answer to his question "What I will be remembered for?" and preserve it for posterity. "I want you to have a vision. This dream will not allow you to sleep," he said.

Degrees were conferred upon 3,307 students in person and 7648 students in absentia.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

BPO Training centre for people with disabilities

[img][url=http://www.disabilityindia.com/images/imgbpovip.jpg][alt="PO%20Centre%20for%20visually%20impaired%20people][/img] BANGALORE, July 10: Samarthanam announces the Inauguration of Samarthanam 'Shristi' a unique BPO/Call Centre Training Unit for Disabled people on Saturday, 10th July, at Peenya.

Samarthanam 'Shristi' a BPO training program is initiated in association with the Department of Welfare of the Disabled and Senior Citizens, Government of Karnataka, Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, New Delhi, Karnataka Rural Poor Handicapped Women's Development Society (KRUPHWODS) and support by ADC, India. This initiative is a Public Private Partnership, the first of its kind in the country along with a similar setup at Hubli started recently.

Hon. Minister for IT and BT, Mr. Katta Subramanya Naidu, Mr. D.B. Chandre Gowda, Hon. Member of Parliament, Bangalore North, Mr. S. Muniraju, Hon. Member of Legislative Assembly , Dasarahalli, Constituency, Ms. M.V. Savithri, Director, Department of Welfare of the Disabled and Senior Citizens, Mr. Raj RajKumar, Managing Director, ADC, India. Government of Karnataka and many dignitaries of High standing will grace the Inaugural ceremony.

Samarthanam 'Shristi' training unit envisages creating a corporate training environment in Business Processing Operations (BPO) and call operations to disabled youth.

The training centre and call centre facilities will be accessible to the needs of disabled youth. Every year, the project would train at least 300 youth with various disabilities across the state of Karnataka which would enable them to get a decent job in the corporate sector. Samarthanam Trust works towards creating an inclusive society which provides opportunitiesโ€“without any discrimination?for the development of the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged people.

By Aqeel Qureshi

Visually impaired Ravi will join the public services

New Delhi, July 07: The Supreme Court has ordered the Union government to find Ravi Prakash Gupta, who is visually impaired, a job within eight weeks in the Civil Services.

Gupta is blind. Four years ago, he cleared the Civil Services exam. He was then selected against the visually handicapped quota. But the Centre at that time argued that there was no vacancy.

For that, it will have to now pay him Rs 20,000 โ€“ part of the Supreme Court's order.

Gupta won his case in the Delhi High Court last year, which asked the government to find him a job. However, the government then appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that it had not found a post suitable for Gupta.

Source: http://www.ndtv.com

71 seats reserved at IIMs for disabled candidates: HC told

Mumbai, July 06: A total of 71 seats were reserved for disabled people candidates in seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the Bombay High Court was told on Tuesday.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S C Dharmadhikari was informed about the reservation during hearing on a petition filed by one Rahul Girreddy, who took CAT, but was denied admission in quota for disabled people.

As many as 270 candidates were shortlisted in the category for these 71 seats and invited for group discussion round, according to the figures compiled by IIMโ€“ Ahmedabad.

On the last occasion, the court had sought this information. IIMโ€“Ahmedabad lawyer said at Ahmedabad all the 12 reserved seats had been filled, but he did not know about the situation elsewhere.

Under the Prevention of Disability Act, 1995, 3 per cent of seats have to be reserved in governmentโ€“run educational institutes for handicapped persons.

The petitioner had alleged this quota was not being implemented and demanded 90 reserved seats in total.

The court, however, was not inclined to hear the matter further. At the last hearing, the Judges had wondered if Bombay High Court had jurisdiction in this case.

On Tuesday, the HC disposed of the plea as the petitioner agreed to make a fresh representation to Chief Commissioner for disabled people about his grievance. The commissioner would decide the issue, it said.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com

Disabled people not at par with SC/ST in DU's MBBS course: Delhi HC

New Delhi, July 05: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said a physically disabled person should be treated at par with SC/ST candidates while granting relaxation in qualifying marks to them in admission in professional courses.

The Court asked the government to consider the recommendations of Chief Commissioner for Disabilities who had directed all governmentโ€“aided institutions to extend the relaxation in qualifying marks to physically disabled candidates in order to bring them at par with SC/ST candidates.

A bench headed by Justice B D Ahmed, however, refused to grant any relief to a disabled student who had sought such relaxation for getting admission in a medical college on the ground that there is no such provision in law at present.

"However, the respondents(government and institutions aided by it) are required to give a serious view to the recommendation in order to ensure that physically disabled persons are not deprived of their rights, privileges and facilities under the law," the court said pointing out that reserved seats for disabled remain vacant due to not giving relaxation in qualifying marks.

"In so far as physically disabled persons are concerned, they have a right to reservation but there is no right to relaxation or a concession in the minimum standards," it said.

The court passed the order on a petition of Shah Afzal seeking a direction to the Medical Council of India to treat physically disabled candidates at par with those of the SCs/STs with regard to admission in MBBS courses.

The Medical Council of India had contended physically disabled candidates cannot claim parity with SC/ST candidates as the two stand on entirely different footings.

Source: http://www.zeenews.com

Have sympathetic approach towards disabled people: HC to UPSC

NEW DELHI, July 05: The Delhi high court has asked the UPSC to adopt a sympathetic approach towards disabled persons and told it not to reject the application of a civil service aspirant who could not fill up the form properly because of blindness.

A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra asked the commission not to reject candidature of A Rahu Verma just because he did not paste his photograph at the marked place on the application form as he is 75% blind.

Advocate Naresh Kaushik, appearing for the commission, submitted that he would impress upon the UPSC board to take a sympathetic view to assuage the condition of the candidate. The court passed the order on a petition filed by the commission challenging a single judge order which had quashed the decision of the UPSC rejecting Verma's application for the civil services examination 2010 and allowed him to appear in prelims exam.

The commission had contended that Verma's application was not in order as he had affixed photograph upon the bar code and such mistake is not condonable.

Not impressed by the Commission's contentions, the court had dismissed its plea. "Due to his blindness to the extent of 75% he was not able to affix the photograph at the appropriate place. No doubt, it is a mistake on the part of the petitioner, however, I am of the view that upon wrong affixation of photograph on the bar code, the petitioner cannot be debarred from appearing in the examination due to special reason,'' the single judge had said. pti

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Delhi High Court stays eviction of five blind students from government hostel

Delhi, July 04: The Delhi High Court has come to the rescue of five visually impaired students who were asked to vacate a governmentโ€“run hostel in the capital where they were staying.

The court directed the NCT government to allow these students to stay in the hostel in Connaught Place till November this year and consider their representation for an alternative accommodation after they leave it.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan said "we are inclined to directed that the appellants (students) shall not be evicted till end of November...".

The Bench's direction came while disposing of an appeal filed by blind student Lalit Kumar and four others challenging a single judge's order dismissing their plea for extension of their stay in the hostel.

Appearing for visually impaired students, advocate Kamal Kant Jha argued that the eviction order passed by the hostel management was "arbitrary and illegal".

Seeking an alternative accommodation for these students, the lawyer said the hostel was constructed by Delhi government to accommodate students up to classโ€“VIII and these students being poor continued to stay there for few more years.

He said that presently they were studying in colleges and without provision of any alternative accommodation for them, the management of the hostel had passed an eviction order against only five students in 2008.

Challenging the eviction order, these students approached the High Court, which initially allowed them to stay in the same place but in the final judgement on May 7 dismissed their petition.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com

FIAPF supports copyright access to visually impaired people

NEW DELHI, July 3: Film Federation of India Secretary General Supran Sen recently said that there was need to support the important role of securing access by the visually impaired and other differently enabled persons to copyright work through practically achievable methods.

Addressing the Conference of the Standing committee of WIPO on Copyright and Related Rights on behalf of the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), Sen said FIAPF shared the concerns and said the best norms should be used. He said FIAPF was entirely at the disposal of Member States, should they wish to receive evidence of actions developed by the audiovisual industries worldwide to facilitate access to audiovisual works by the visuallyโ€“impaired and other people with disabilities.

He said FIAPF also supported the move towards a Treaty to protect the broadcaster. It was encouraged by the clarity of many delegations about the need to limit those rights relating to broadcasting signals and stop unauthorized signals, in order to ensure that rights in content itself remain under the control of content producers and other creative participants.

The Conference discussed among other things the need to support the blind and other disabled human beings who face social exclusion, discrimination and poverty. Equal opportunities in education, work and information should be given to such visually impaired and other disabled human beings.

The copyrighted materials should be made available to such persons in accessible formats, such as Braille, large print and audio.

The proposal was moved by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. Some member states pointed out that an international instrument ? whatever its nature ? will not in itself build capacity and guarantee access to a greater range of works on fair terms to the visuallyโ€“impaired.

The conference, attended by 54 countries including India and 100 NGOs, was held from 21 to 24 June in Geneva.

Source: http://www.indiantelevision.com

'Rakt Sambandh' TV show to feature blind character

July 03: If Bollywood exposed to us dyslexia, progeria, and autism, television has often concentrated on the basic physical disabilities such as blindness, deafness.

Actress a.k.a Sudha of Jyoti, faces the biggest challenge of her shot career as she plays a blind girl (Sandhya) in the soonโ€“toโ€“beโ€“launched 'Rakt Sambandh' on Imagine TV.

Interestingly, she's part of the show Jyoti that means light. So, has she lost her vision while working in Jyoti? (Laughs) "Yes, Jyoti main kaam karte, nazar chal gayi," Jha joked.

On a serious note, the girls talks about her preparation for the role. When it comes to playing the blind, one doesn't need to look beyond the legendary Helen Keller.

"I've been reading about Helen Keller a lot. Before, I really didn't know what to do as I hadn't played such a character before. However, after reading about Keller, I've released that the normal man can see a thing in just one way, whereas as a blind, you can draw many pictures of the things around you. It's this feeling that one needs to capture to play such a role, Apart from Keller, I've been hugely inspired by the film Scent of a Woman. No one has portrayed a blind man better than Al Pacino," said the actress.

The girl seems to going the right way about her task, Let us see whether the viewers open their eyes to Sandhya's story.

Source: http://entertainment.oneindia.in

Affordable technologies will empower people with disabilities

July 03: For 15 years, Nisha Raj has almost shut herself out from rest of the world. The teenager, with cerebral palsy, not only finds it hard to move around freely in her wheelchair, but it's even hard for her to communicate with the rest of the world. She will soon have technology to assist her in overcoming the limitations posed by her disability.

In an attempt to empower disabled people, Bangaloreโ€“based MindTree Foundation is coming up with a set of assistive technologies that are affordable and easily accessible to help people with disabilities lead a normal life.

The foundation has been working for six months on a new initiative called affordable assistive technology solutions for the disabled. It has considered 21 assistive technology initiatives to address the needs of individuals with cerebral palsy and musculoโ€“skeletal disorders, of which 14 have moved beyond the initial evaluation process and are in various stages of development.

"The idea is to provide solutions, such as singleโ€“access switches, for less than Rs1,000 and augmentative/alternative devices that are almost like computers, for less than Rs10,000," Raja Shanmugam, CEO of MindTree Foundation, said.

"Assistive technology is a 40โ€“yearโ€“old concept in western countries. In India, most products are in laboratories only, beyond the reach of the target audience, as they are very expensive. Our attempt is to make the best of technologies accessible to people, by providing them at the cheapest possible price," Shanmugam said.

Some of the technologies that Shanmugam and his team members have readied for launch in the market by December include ADITI (analog digital Theremin interface), which helps disabled people connect with computers, and Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) Device, to help those with cerebral palsy communicate easily.

Shanmugam said the AAC Device was by far the team's most ambitious venture. "The product has been built with the help of software prepared by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, and hardware by MindTree," he said.

The AAC Device, which will cost Rs10,000, functions with a touchโ€“screen LCD, switches, speakers and assistive technology software. It will be useful for people with cerebral palsy to communicate easily, as the device will help them to key in sentences in the device, which will then be communicated to the listener through the speaker.

Similarly, ADITI, priced at Rs500, helps disabled people connect with computers. "The device detects any motion close to the plate and creates a click. It can be set close to any movable part of the body ? head, leg or elbow," Shanmugam said. "This product was built at IITโ€“Madras a few years ago, but still remains a lab product. The MindTree team has taken this product, cleaned up the documentation, built a pilot run and delivered it to an NGO," he said. "Now, we are talking to a vendor to manufacture it, to benefit a much larger population."

Shanmugam is planning to take few of the products for demonstration at an assistive technology conference, schedule from July 23, in Bangalore.

Founded in November 2007, MindTree Foundation's charter is to support those with disabilities. It works with the Spastics Society of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Missionaries of Charity, the Somanahalli Panchayat School, the Autism Action Group. The foundation is working with several USโ€“based NGOs, too.

Shanmugam said to help the poor and rural people get access to these technologies, the foundation was working with various NGOs to help disabled people get government loans.

About 10% of the Indian population is having disability and 70% of people with disabilities are in rural areas, under abject poverty.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com

NAPAD organizes parents awareness workshop

July 03: Nagaland Parents Association for the disabled (NAPAD), Kohima unit organized a parents awareness workshop at the deputy commissioner's conference hall at Wokha on Friday.

Deputy Commissioner, Wokha who is also the Advisor NAPAD graced the occasion. In his address, the DC urged parents to be aware and allow children to participate in all walks of life, be it social or education.

Purnima Kayina, Coordinator NAPAD also shared on the type of disability and the myth of disability.

The meeting was attended by several government officials including CDPO, CMO Wokha, Secretary, Red Cross Society Nagaland, officials from Social Welfare department and PWD department and parents of the disabled.

The meeting was chaired by Marlong Longkumer, President (NAPAD) while the vote of thanks was proposed by Kapochuโ€“o Naleo.

Many affected parents also shared their experiences about having special children.

The association has further encouraged parents of disabled children to form parents association for Wokha district.

Source: http://www.nagalandpost.com

HC seeks details of disabled candidates joining IIMs

MUMBAI, June 30: The Bombay High Court (HC) on Monday sought details of the seats reserved for disabled candidates in Indian Institutes of Management across India and the number of such candidates admitted during the current academic year.

Hearing a petition filed by a cityโ€“based TYBcom student Rahul Girreddy, who dragged the IIMs to court, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S C Dharmadhikari has given IIMโ€“Ahmedabad time till July 6 to submit the details.

Girreddy (20), a student of R A Poddar College, suffers from a speech disability, and had passed the CAT for admissions to IIM this year. According to the petition, the institutions were not implementing the Persons with Disabilities (PD) Act, which reserves 3% of the seats for disabled candidates.

Of the 2,000 seats available in the IIMs across the country, around 70โ€“90 are reserved for disabled candidates. The lawyer representing Girreddy claimed that this was not adhered to and hence, disabled candidates were not benefiting from the scheme.

The Union government's counsel told the court that the IIMs were autonomous institutions and so the Centre did not have control over them. It was, however, pointed out that the IIMs received 100% grant from the government and were supposed to implement the reservation rule.

IIMโ€“A, in an affidavit, pointed out that they had filled all the seats reserved for disabled students. The court then asked them for the details of other IIMs. The judges also indicated that the issue of whether the Bombay high court had jurisdiction to hear the case would have to be gone into, since there is not a single IIM in Maharashtra.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

'Visually impaired teachers as capable as sighted ones'

PUNE: An audioโ€“visual presentation on Chhatrapati Shivaji by a visually impaired teacher and his team had students from two schools hooked onto the unique session at the Modern English Medium School on Monday afternoon. The session was conducted to disprove the popular notion that visually impaired teachers cannot teach effectively.

Satish Navale, a visually impaired teacher who spearheads the Braille Web Radio at the University of Pune (UoP), conducted the teaching session for Std VIII students of Modern school and Kalawati Kotwal Vidyalaya in Hadapsar using computers and mobile phones.

Assisted by Rajendra Chavan, another visually impaired teacher who teaches Marathi in Mumbai, Navale and team simplified the sights and sounds for the children and made them answer questions related to youth, courage and human values by taking Chhatrapati Shivaji's example.

"There is a government quota for employment of visually impaired teachers. A general resolution of the state government reiterates such employment for teachers like me. However, advertisements for recruiting visually impaired teachers often ignore fully blind teachers. The fact is, such teachers are as knowledgeable as sighted teachers. And today's session was conducted to prove this point," said Navale.

Skilled in the art of storyโ€“telling and usage of the audioโ€“visual medium and with sound knowledge of their subjects, partially and fully blind teachers are equipped to teach in schools and colleges, he added.

Vijay Kadam, a partially impaired teacher at Ahmednagar College who attended the session, said, "Despite the government provision, there are very few visually impaired teachers holding jobs in schools and colleges."

"We only request schools and colleges to test our teaching abilities and give us employment. We can prove ourselves," said Chavan. Monday's session was one step ahead of the existing educational system, said Pandit Vidyasagar, a faculty member at UoP. "Teaching students of two different schools through the audioโ€“visual medium just proves that visually impaired teachers are as capable as sighted teachers," he added.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Mother wins battle for disabled daughter

BANGALORE, June 29: Trained in classical and Western dance, and an aspiring model, this Oxford Dental College graduate's dreams of higher studies were almost dashed after she met with an accident that left her completely immobile. But her grit, and more so her mother's spirit, changed her life and that of many others for the better.

S J Rajalakshmi's is an inspiring story. She was travelling to Chennai to present a paper at a national conference when she met with a road accident, resulting in permanent loss of mobility in both her lower limbs.

She completed her graduation and internship in a wheelchair, and also topped her college in orthodontics and community dentistry. Barely a month out of a major surgery in 2009, she wrote her Pโ€“G entrance exam and passed with a good score.

BATTLE FOR RESERVATION โ€“ Though the government of India had reserved 3% seats for persons with disability, the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences had reserved only one seat for a physically challenged candidate in 2009.

Since the university was supposed to reserve 3% seats, Dr Rajalakshmi approached the then state commissioner for disabilities Das Suryawanshi, who issued a order to reserve 3% seats. Surprisingly, the university ignored this order. Not one to give up, Rajalakshmi's mother Dr Shobha Murthy filed a writ petition in the high court. After a yearโ€“long battle, the court issued a historic order, making 3% reservation mandatory for disabled students in government and private educational institutions.

Her battle enabled 24 disabled students to pursue their dreams in medical and dental PG courses this year.

"When I suddenly became disabled, my life completely changed. It was shocking for us to know that an Act enacted 15 years ago was not implemented, and people with disability were denied their rights all these years. My mother was struggling to get justice for me and I was worried about her health. On several occasions, I wanted her to give up, but she was confident and fought till I and many like me got justice. I thank my mother and brothers for being my pillars of strength," Rajalakshmi told TOI.

"All her life, my daughter has been a meritorious student and when I knew she rightly deserved the seat, I had to fight for her rights. I have argued my daughter's case alone in court. But I am happy the struggle benefited the entire disabled student community. From the current year, it is mandatory that all educational institutions reserve 3% seats as per the PWD Act," said mother Shobha Murthy.

"The government turns the disabled into beggars by only distributing wheelchairs and clutches. They should empower them by efficiently implementing the PWD Act," she added.

Since the state government had failed to implement the Act, Dr Rajalakshmi lost one year. But not really, the plucky girl did a course in fashion designing and pursued her Masters in Psychology through distance education.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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