National Policy for Persons with Disabilities - National Policy Statement

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National Policy Statement

The National Policy recognizes that Persons with Disabilities are valuable human resource for the country and seeks to create an environment that provides them equal opportunities, protection of their rights and full participation in society. The focus of the policy shall be on the following:

Prevention of Disabilities

Since disability, in a large number of cases, is preventable, there will be strong emphasis on prevention of disabilities. Programme for prevention of diseases, which result in disability and the creation of awareness regarding measures to be taken for prevention of disabilities during the period of pregnancy and thereafter will be intensified and their coverage expanded.

Rehabilitation Measures

Rehabilitation measures can be classified into three distinct groups: (i) physical rehabilitation, which includes early detection and intervention, counseling & medical interventions and provision of aids & appliances. It will also include the development of rehabilitation professionals. (ii) educational rehabilitation including vocational education and (iii) economic rehabilitation for a dignified life in society.
Physical Rehabilitation Strategies

   1. Early Detection and Intervention

      Early detection of disability and intervention through drug or non-drug therapies helps in minimization of impact of disability. Therefore, there will be emphasis on early detection and early intervention, and necessary facilities will be created towards this end. Government will take measures to disseminate information regarding availability of such facilities to the people especially in rural areas.

   2. Counseling & Medical Rehabilitation

  • Physical rehabilitation measures including counseling, strengthening capacities of persons with disabilities and their families, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychotherapy, surgical correction and intervention, vision assessment, vision stimulation, speech therapy, audiological rehabilitation and special education shall be extended to cover all the districts in the country by active involvement and participation of State Governments, local level institutions, NGOs including associations of parents and persons with disabilities.
  • Currently, rehabilitation services are largely available in and around urban areas. Since seventy five percent persons with disabilities live in rural areas, the services run by professionals will be extended to cover uncovered and un-served areas. Privately owned rehabilitation service centres shall be regulated for maintenance of minimum standards which shall be laid down.
  • To expand coverage in rural and unserved areas, new District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) will be set up with support from the State Government.
  • The National Rural Health Mission through Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) addresses the health needs of rural population, especially the vulnerable sections of society. The ASHA inter-alia will take care of the comprehensive services to the persons with disabilities at the grass root level.

   3. Assistive Devices

          * The Government of India has been assisting persons with disabilities in procuring durable and scientifically manufactured, modern aids and appliances of ISI standard that can promote their physical, social and psychological independence by reducing the effect of disabilities.
          * Every year through National Institutes, State Governments, DDRCs and NGOs, persons with disabilities are provided with devices such as prostheses and orthoses, tricycles, wheel chair, surgical footwear and devices for activities of daily living, learning equipments (Braille writing equipments, Dictaphone, CD player/ tape recorder), low vision aids, special mobility aids like canes for blind, hearing aids, educational kits, communication aids, assistive & alerting devices and devices suitable for the persons with mental disabilities. The availability of devices will be expanded to cover uncovered and under-serviced areas.
          * Private, public and joint sector enterprises involved in the manufacture of high tech assistive devices for persons with disabilities will be provided financial support by the public sector banks.

   4. Development of Rehabilitation Professionals

      Human resource requirements for rehabilitation of persons with disabilities will be assessed and development plan will be prepared so that the rehabilitation strategies do not suffer from lack of manpower.

Education for Persons with Disabilities

   1. Education is the most effective vehicle of social and economic empowerment. In keeping with the spirit of the Article 21A of the Constitution guaranteeing education as a fundamental right and Section 26 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, free and compulsory education has to be provided to all children with disabilities up to the minimum age of 18 years. According to the Census, 2001, fifty-one percent persons with disabilities are illiterate. This is a very large percentage. There is a need for mainstreaming of the persons with disabilities in the general education system through Inclusive education.

   2. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) launched by the Government has the goal of eight years of elementary schooling for all children including children with disabilities in the age group of 6-14 years by 2010. Children with disabilities in the age group of 15-18 years are provided free education under Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC) Scheme.

   3. Under SSA, a continuum of educational options, learning aids and tools, mobility assistance, support services etc. are being made available to students with disabilities. This includes education through an open learning system and open schools, alternative schooling, distance education, special schools, wherever necessary home based education, itinerant teacher model, remedial teaching, part time classes, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and vocational education.

   4. IEDC Scheme implemented through the State Governments, Autonomous Bodies and Voluntary Organizations provides hundred percent financial assistance for various facilities like special teachers, books and stationery, uniform, transport, readers allowance for the visually handicapped, hostel allowance, equipment cost, removal/modification of architectural barriers, financial assistance for purchase/production of instructional material, training of general teachers and equipment for resource rooms.

   5. There will be concerted effort on the part of the Government to improve identification of children with disabilities through regular surveys, their enrollment in appropriate schools and their continuation till they successfully complete their education. The Government will endeavor to provide right kind of learning material and books to the children with disabilities, suitably trained and sensitized teachers and schools which are accessible and disabled friendly.

   6. Government of India is providing scholarships to students with disabilities for pursuing studies at post school level. Government will continue to support the scholarships and expand its coverage.

   7. Facilities for technical and vocational education designed to inculcate and bolster skill development suited to various types of productive activities by adaptation of the existing institutes or accelerated setting up of institutes in un-served/underserved areas will be encouraged. NGOs will also be encouraged to provide vocational training.

   8. Persons with disabilities will be provided access to the Universities, technical institutions and other institutions of higher learning to pursue higher and professional courses.

Economic Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities

Economic rehabilitation of Persons with disabilities comprise of both wage employment in organized sector and self-employment. Supporting structure of services by way of vocational rehabilitation centres and vocational training centres will be developed to ensure that disabled persons in both urban and rural areas have increased opportunities for productive and gainful employment.

Strategies for economic empowerment of persons with disabilities would be the following.

   1. Employment in Government Establishments

      The PWD Act, 1995 provides for 3% reservation in employment in the establishments of Government of India and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) against identified posts. The status of reservation for Government in various Ministries/ Departments against identified posts in Group A, B, C & D is 3.07%, 4.41%, 3.76% and 3.18% respectively. In PSUs, the reservation status in Group A, B, C & D is 2.78%, 8.54%, 5.04% and 6.75%, respectively. Government will ensure reservation in identified posts in the Government sector including public sector undertakings in accordance with the provisions of the PWD Act, 1995. The list of identified posts, which was notified in 2001, will be reviewed and updated.

   2. Wage employment in Private sector

      Development of appropriate skills in persons with disabilities will be encouraged for their employability in private sector. Vocational rehabilitation and training Centres engaged in developing appropriate skills amongst persons with disabilities keeping in view their potential and abilities will be encouraged to expand their services. Considering rapid growth of employment opportunities in service sector, persons with disabilities will be encouraged to undertake skill training suitable to the market requirement. Pro-active measures like incentives, awards, tax exemptions etc. will be taken to encourage the employment of persons with disabilities in the private sector.

   3. Self-employment

      Considering slow pace of growth in employment opportunities in the organized sector, self-employment of persons with disabilities will be promoted. This will be done through vocational education and management training. Further, the existing system of providing loans at softer terms from the NHFDC will be improved to make it easily accessible with transparent and efficient procedures of processing. The Government will also encourage self-employment by providing incentives, tax concessions, exemptions from duties, preferential treatment for procurement of goods and services by the Government from the enterprises of persons with disabilities, etc. Priority in financial support will be given to Self Help Groups formed by the persons with disabilities.

Women with disabilities

   1. According to Census-2001, there are 93.01 lakh women with disabilities, which constitute 42.46 percent of total disabled population. Women with disabilities require protection against exploitation and abuse. Special programmes will be developed for education, employment and providing of other rehabilitation services to women with disabilities keeping in view their special needs. Special educational and vocation training facilities will be setup. Programmes will be undertaken to rehabilitate abandoned disabled women/ girls by encouraging their a adoption in families, support to house them and impart them training for gainful employment skills. The Government will encourage the projects where representation of women with disabilities is ensured at least to the extent of twenty five percent of total beneficiaries.

   2. Steps shall be taken to provide short duration stay homes for women with disabilities, hostels for working disabled women, and homes for aged disabled women.

   3. It has been noted that women with disabilities have serious difficulty in looking after their children. The Government will take up a programme to provide financial support to women with disabilities so that they may hire services to look after their children. Such support will be limited to two children for a period not exceeding two years.

Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities are the most vulnerable group and need special attention. The Government would strive to:

    1.  Ensure right to care, protection and security for children with disabilities;
   2. Ensure the right to development with dignity and equality creating an enabling environment where children can exercise their rights, enjoy equal opportunities and full participation in accordance with various statutes.
   3.  Ensure inclusion and effective access to education, health, vocational training along with specialized rehabilitation services to children with disabilities.
   4.  Ensure the right to development as well as recognition of special needs and of care, and protection of children with severe disabilities.

Barrier-free Environment

Barrier-free environment enables people with disabilities to move about safely and freely, and use the facilities within the built environment. The goal of barrier free design is to provide an environment that supports the independent functioning of individuals so that they can participate without assistance, in every day activities. Therefore, to the maximum extent possible, buildings/ places/transportation systems for public use will be made barrier free.

Issue of Disability Certificates

The Government of India has notified guidelines for evaluation of the disabilities and procedure for certification. The Government will ensure that the persons with disabilities obtain the disability certificates without any difficulty in the shortest possible time by adoption of simple, transparent and client-friendly procedures.

Social Security

   1. Disabled persons, their families and care givers incur substantial additional expenditure for facilitating activities of daily living, medical care, transportation, assistive devices, etc. Therefore, there is a need to provide them social security by various means. Central Government has been providing tax relief to persons with disabilities and their guardians. The State Governments/ U.T. Administrations have been providing unemployment allowance or disability pension. The State Governments will be encouraged to develop a comprehensive social security policy for persons with disabilities.

   2. Parents of severely disabled persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities feel a sense of insecurity regarding the welfare of their wards after their death. The National Trust for persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities has been providing legal guardians through Local Level Committee. They are also implementing the Supported Guardianship Scheme to provide financial security to persons with the above-mentioned severe disabilities who are destitute and abandoned by supporting the cost of guardianship. This scheme, which is presently implemented in a few districts, shall be expanded to cover other areas in a phased manner.

Promotion of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

The National Policy recognizes the NGO sector as a very important institutional mechanism to provide affordable services to complement the endeavors of the Government. The NGO sector is a vibrant and growing one. It has played a significant role in the provisions of services for persons with disabilities.

Some of the NGOs are also undertaking human resource development and research activities. Government has also been actively involving them in policy formulation, planning, implementation, monitoring and has been seeking their advice on various issues relating to persons with disabilities.

Interaction with NGOs will be enhanced on various disability issues regarding planning, policy formulation and implementation. Networking, exchange of information and sharing of good practices amongst NGOs will be encouraged and facilitated.

The following programmes will be undertaken:

   1. A Directory of NGOs working in the field of disability will be prepared properly mapping them by geographic regions along with their major activities. For NGOs supported by the Central/State Governments, their resource position, both financial and manpower will also be reported. Disabled persons organizations, family associations and advocacy groups of parents of disabled persons shall also be covered in the directory identifying them separately.

   2. There are regional/State imbalances in the development of the NGO movement. Steps will be taken to encourage and accord preference to NGOs working in the underserved and inaccessible areas. Reputed NGOs shall also be encouraged to take up projects in such areas.

   3. NGOs will be encouraged to develop and adopt minimum standards, codes of conduct and ethics.

   4. NGOs will be provided opportunities for orientation and training of their human resource. Training in management skill which is already being provided, will be strengthened. Transparency, accountability, procedural simplification etc. will be guiding factors for improvement in the NGO-Government partnership.

   5. The NGOs shall be encouraged to mobilize their own resources to reduce the dependence on grants-in-aid from the Government and also to improve the availability of funds in the sector. Tapering of assistance in a schematic manner will also be considered so that the number of NGOs to be helped within the available resources could be maximized. Towards this end, NGOs will be trained in resource mobilization.

Collection of regular information on Persons with Disabilities

   1. There is a need for regular collection, compilation and analysis of data relating to socio-economic conditions of persons with disabilities. The National Sample Survey Organization has been collecting information on Socio-economic conditions of persons with disabilities on regular basis once in ten years since 1981. The Census has also started collection of information on persons with disabilities from the Census-2001. The National Sample Survey Organization will have to collect the information on persons with disabilities at least once in five years. The differences in the definitions adopted by the two agencies will be reconciled.

   2. A comprehensive website for persons with disability will be created under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. Organizations both in public and private sector will be encouraged to make their websites accessible to the visually impaired using Screen Reading Technologies.

Research

For improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities, research will be supported on their socio-economic and cultural context, cause of disabilities, early childhood education methodologies, development of user-friendly aids and appliances and all matters connected with disabilities which will significantly alter the quality of their life and civil society's ability to respond to their concerns. Wherever persons with disabilities are subjected to research interventions, their or their family member or caregiver's consent is mandatory.

Sports, Recreation and Cultural life

The contribution of sports for its therapeutic and community spirit is undeniable. Persons with disabilities have right to access sports, recreation and cultural facilities. The Government will take necessary steps to provide them opportunity for participation in various sports, recreation and cultural activities.

Amendments to existing Acts dealing with the Persons with Disabilities

Ten years have passed since the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 came into operation. With the experience gained in the implementation of the Act and developments in the disability sector, certain amendments to the Act have become necessary. These amendments will be carried out in consultation with the stakeholders. RCI and National Trust Acts will also be reviewed and if necessary, required amendments would be made.

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