Emphasising on the need for a robust policy framework and an efficient and effective delivery system to help the differently-abled people realise their full potential, President Pratibha Patil on Friday said the Central and the State governments must partner with civil society and the private sector, in their endeavour to create an inclusive society.
Speaking after presenting the National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the President said the winners, including individuals and institutions, had overcome the enormous odds posed by their disabilities, to excel in various fields.
The President stated that India’s initiative to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities demonstrates our resolve to move forward on the agenda to provide the differently-abled with an inclusive environment.
Pointing out that the requirements and the concerns of the disabled should be fully reflected, Ms Patil expressed hope that the committee constituted to draft a new legislation for disabled people will come up with a satisfactory and practical draft before long. The basic objective of the policies should be to make them self-reliant, she said.
"Education must make the differently-abled strong, both mentally and physically, to face the world. It is, therefore, necessary, that an appropriate teaching-learning environment and provision of learning materials in an accessible format are provided. Teachers should be trained so that they can understand the needs of children with disabilities, and thereby teach and guide them properly. Teachers and society should become more sensitive and sympathetic towards disabled persons,’’ the President said.
Calling for removing physical barriers that do not allow persons with disabilities to access various facilities and services, Ms Patil said as a component of their right to education, school buildings should be made free from physical barriers for children with special needs. Simple aids and assistive devices such as hearing devices, limb prosthesis, wheelchairs and Braille writing equipment help them immensely in mobility, communication and daily living.
The full and effective participation of a person with disability in society on an equal basis with others can be helped by the behavioural attitudes that they encounter when they interact in society. "We must treat them with dignity and full respect. The family, community and society in general, have an important role to play in ensuring socio-psychological and emotional integration of persons with disabilities. It is necessary to correct the prevailing bias in society, particularly with regard to persons with mental disabilities, through sustained education and awareness campaigns. Civil Society organizations and academic institutions in the country should spearhead this movement,’’ she said.
Ms Patil said opportunities for employment and self-employment for them at present were inadequate despite provisions for reservation in employment in all establishments in the government sector, but the backlog of reserved vacancies for persons with disabilities, needs to be filled up through concerted action by all Government organizations. Similarly, the private sector must come forward to provide employment opportunities to persons with disabilities in their establishments and industries.