Disability Bill: Civil Services Mentor Magazine: February - 2017

Disability Bill

Since coming to power this govt has constantly done work for the welfare of disabled people. First government came up with sugamya bharat abhiyan to improve the physical infrastructure for the disabled people of the country. Public transport in country is highly overcrowded for even a person who does not have a physical disability. Situation becomes much more difficult for a person with disability. They have to face the problem of poor infrastructure with the problem they have already. Everyone becomes physically disabled at some stage in their lives. A person with a broken leg, a child, a mother with a pram, an elderly gentleman etc. are all disabled in some way or another. Thus, Needs of the disabled coincide with the needs of majority, but disabled persons needs enhanced much more than the people with out disability. As such, designing the facilities for the majority implies designing and planning for people with varying abilities and disabilities.

One of the most important ideals of India and our constitution is that everyone should live together with provision for positive discrimination for those who are in need of it. Ideally, a disabled person should be able to commute between home, work place and other destinations with independence, convenience and safety. This independence, sfety and convenience will help in integrating the persons with disability to the mainstream of the society.

For Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) universal accessibility is critical for enabling them to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society. Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 under sections 44, 45 land 46 categorically provides for:

  • non-discrimination in transport;
  • non-discrimination on the road and
  • non-discrimination in built environment respectively.

India is also a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Article 9 UNCRPD casts obligations on the Governments for ensuring to Persons with disability (PwDs) accessibility to

(a) Information;
(b) Transportation;
(c) Physical Environment;
(d) Communication Technology and
(e) Accessibility to Services as well as emergency services.

Governments of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) region gathered in Incheon, Republic of Korea in 2012 and adopted the Incheon Strategy to "Make the Rights Real" for persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific. The Incheon Strategy builds on the UNCRPD and provides the first regionally agreed disability inclusive "Development Goals". This strategy went on to say that safety and ease of use not only for persons with disabilities, but also for all other members of the society.

The Lok Sabha today passed "The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill - 2016". The Bill will replace the existing PwD Act, 1995, which was enacted 21 years back.

The salient features of the Bill are:

A. Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
B. The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities. The 21 disabilities are given below:-

1. Blindness
2. Low-vision
3. Leprosy Cured persons
4. Hearing Impairment (deaf and hard of hearing)
5. Locomotor Disability
6. Dwarfism
7. Intellectual Disability
8. Mental Illness
9. Autism Spectrum Disorder
10. Cerebral Palsy
11. Muscular Dystrophy
12. Chronic Neurological conditions
13. Specific Learning Disabilities
14. Multiple Sclerosis
15. Speech and Language disability
16. Thalassemia
17. Hemophilia
18. Sickle Cell disease
19. Multiple Disabilities including deafblindness
20. Acid Attack victim
21. Parkinson's disease

Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time. Acid Attack Victims have been included. Dwarfism, muscular dystrophy have has been indicated as separate class of specified disability. The New categories of disabilities also included three blood disorders, Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease. In addition, the Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.

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