In a pioneering initiative that will bring together non-governmental organizations, professionals, policy makers, students, parents, community workers and persons living with disabilities on a common platform, the federal Indian government would launch an interactive portal to provide all related information regarding different disability issues.
The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), a federal body dealing with rehabilitation of the disabled and Media Lab Asia, a unit of the Indian Department of Information Technology, are jointly developing the portal. This is the first time two Indian Government organizations have come together to use Information and Communication Technology for the betterment of the disabled.
"The portal will provide complete access to database related to disability and is expected to herald a new era in human resource development for the disability and rehabilitation sector in India. Once the portal is set up, it will be possible for users to download a repository of books in text, audio and multimedia mode. Not only that in schools where computer based printing system is available the text in language script or Braille script can be printed locally," a spokesperson of Media Lab Asia told Medindia.
According to RCI officials, an online national disability register would be part of the portal. This will enable applicants to apply online and also view their status online. "We intent uploading all government orders, laws, circulars and notices related to disability on the website so that they can be downloaded," an official said.
The disabled-friendly texts in audio, video and multimedia mode will be cataloged and stored in web format for easy download. "We will be charging a very nominal fee for these downloads, which would also be available in major Indian languages," he added.
Users could also access a complete database on NGOs working in the field of disability in India and network with sponsors for financing projects for the welfare of the disabled. Besides, a dedicated section will be available for information on professional personnel and students being trained as specialists to deal with disability related issues. Currently there are 30000 such professionals in the country and an estimated 5,000 persons register themselves for fresh training every year. A closed user group would be launched to unite them and other stakeholders.
The Government also intends to use the portal for launching e-learning courses in English to train specialists to deal with the disabled and in the field of rehabilitation. All training programmes formulated by the RCI would be offered in the e-mode. "We hope that those in rural areas and residents abroad would benefit from this," the official said.
"We have joined hands with RCI in this initiative with a view to fill the gap of the availability of information on disability and to improve the lives of persons living with various disabilities," the Media Lab Asia spokesperson said.