Saturday, 17 May 2014 07:14



Persons with Disabilities (PWD) are defined as those suffering from four types of disabilities viz., Visual, loco-motor, hearing and speech and mental disabilities. In the Ninth Plan (1992-97), the earlier paradigm shift in approach from "welfare" to development was moved further to "empowerment" which is more holistic by including both the welfare and development perspective. The major thrust in the Tenth Plan has been to consolidate and strengthen the various programmes through coordinated efforts and innovative interventions in attending to the special problems and needs of these disadvantaged groups. One of the thrust areas during the Tenth Plan has been to prepare disabled-friendly policies to create a hurdle-free environment.

According to the Census 2001, there are 2.19 crore persons with disabilities in India who constitute 2.13 percent of the total population. This includes persons with visual, hearing, speech, locomotor and mental disabilities. Seventy five per cent of persons with disabilities live in rural areas, 49 per cent of disabled population is literate and only 34 per cent are employed. The earlier emphasis on medical rehabilitation has now been replaced by an emphasis on social rehabilitation.

Some initiatives are discussed below:

• The Central Government has created a new Department of Disability Affairs which was earlier a part of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.  With the creation of this new Department, government will be able to focus more on the policy issues and problems of the PwDs. There would be a separate budget for this department which would help in strengthening the existing schemes and formulating the new ones, and also for technological innovations, which is very much required in this sector. It would now be easier to coordinate with various stakeholders, NGOs, State Governments, other related Central ministries and international organizations like United Nations, as India is a signatory to UNCRPD.

• The Government constituted the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities with the former Governor, Sunder Singh Bhandari, as its chairperson. It recommends programmes for the elimination of inequalities in status and on facilities and opportunities for the disabled in order to give the appropriate education and vocational training. The Commission also recommends packages for poverty eradication, employment and other support services to achieve the goal of psycho-social acceptance of the disabled. It also reviews the working of the rehabilitation institutions. The members will represent people with hearing impairment, visual impairment and locomotor disability.

• For the marginalised sections of the society National Policy for Persons with Disabilities has been finalised in 2005. The policy focuses on the prevention of disabilities, the physical and economic rehabilitation measures for disabled persons. The policy is to be implemented by Government and other agencies.

• The Government of India has enacted three legislations for persons with disabilities viz.

a) Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which provides for education, employment, creation of barrier free environment, social security, etc.

b) National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Act, 1999 has provisions for legal guardianship of the four categories and creation of enabling environment for as much independent living as possible.

c) Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 deals with the development of manpower for providing rehabilitation.

• India’s first Sign Language Research and Training Centre has been established at the IGNOU Campus. It is an exclusive education project for teaching, learning, training and capacity building for the vast deaf population of the country. It will be a full time teaching and training centre for Indian Sign Language combined with distance teaching/learning opportunities. The centre would consist of short term, medium and full-fledged programmes for both the un-trained and experienced teachers of the deaf schools.  The inclusion of deaf people in the larger development activity of the country depends significantly on promotion of Sign Language thus ISLRTC will play a major role in enhancing the lifestyles of deaf community in India.

• The Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO), Kanpur is a public sector body, engaged in manufacturing of aids and appliances for persons with disabilities. The products manufactured by the Corporation conform to ISI standards approved by the Bureau of Indian Standards. Marketing of products is done through Regional Marketing Centres at Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhubaneswar and Delhi and also through National Institutes, voluntary organisations, 65 the corporation has manufactured aids and appliances.

• Five Composite Regional Centres (CRCs) for the Persons with Disabilities has been set up in Srinagar, Lucknow, Bhopal, Sundernagar and Guwahati. These centres conduct training programmes to prepare professionals in the field of rehabilitation as well as provide rehabilitation services to the disabled. Four Regional Rehabilitation Centres for Spinal Injuries and other Orthopaedic Disabilities at Mohali, Cuttack, Jabalpur and Bareilly are providing services for basic management and follow-up of the spinally injured so as to make the affected persons functionally independent.

• The National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) has been set up to help the disables financially. It is an apex-level financial institution for extending credit facilities to persons with disabilities for their economic development. Funds assistance is disbursed through the channelizing agencies authorized by the State Governments/UT Administrations and Non-Government Organisations. It also extends loans for pursuing education at graduate and higher levels. Besides, it assists in the upgradation of technical and entrepreneurial skills to enable beneficiaries to manage their production units efficiently.

• Scheme for Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of AIDs and Appliances has been launched. The objective of the Scheme is to assist needy and disabled persons in procuring-durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation by reducing the impact of disability and enhancing their economic potential. The scheme is implemented through agencies like voluntary organisations, National Institutes under the Ministry, ALIMCO, Zila Panchayats, DRDAs, etc. The implementing agencies are provided grant-in-aid for purchase, fabrication and distribution of aids and appliances. The scheme also includes ambit medical/surgical correction and intervention that may be essential prior to figment of aids and appliances.

• A Scheme of "Incentives to Employers in Private Sector for providing Employment to Persons with Disabilities (PwDs)" has been introduced with effect from April 2008 to encourage employers to employ PwDs. As per the Scheme the Government will reimburse the employer`s contribution to Employees Provident Fund and Employees State Insurance for a period of 3 years in respect of PwDs, employed on or after 1.04.2008 with a monthly salary up to Rs. 2500/-. The apex Chambers of Industries have been requested to sensitize their members.