100 participate in day-long programme

The district administration has plans to orient all panchayat presidents to the benefits of various schemes that disabled people are entitled to through the National Institute for Visually Handicapped (NIVH).

On Monday, the NIVH sensitised 100 members of panchayat raj institutions to disability issues in association with the District Differently Abled Welfare Office, Tiruchi. District Collector Jayashree Muralidharan inaugurated the programme by instructing R. Shyamala, District Differently Abled Welfare Officer, to extend the training to all 404 village panchayat heads.

During the day-long programme, there were sessions on implications and rehabilitation relating to hearing impairment by S. Prabakar Immanuel, Director, Holy Cross Service Society; visual impairment by Tanuja, Consultant Ophthalmologist; mental retardation by Thyagarajan, Director, Sudar, Thanjavur; and multiple disabilities by Geetha, Director, Pravaag.

Course Coordinator G. Tagore, Spastics Society of Tiruchi, handled the final session on ‘legislations related to disabilities’.

According to I.Arivanandham, Regional Director In-Charge, NIVH, Chennai, the awareness on welfare schemes meant to mainstream disabled people in the society was not as much in rural areas as in semi-urban and urban places. For instance, more awareness is required on the entitlement of disabled people to the extent of three per cent in all poverty alleviation programmes, including MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act).

For the welfare of disabled in urban places, a lot of work was under progress. The NIVH, for instance, was offering training in computer, medical transcription and radio broadcasting. But those in rural places need to be integrated into the entitlements accruing from government schemes.

India being a partner of all international treaties for welfare of disabled people, formulated the Persons with Disability Act 1995, following the 1992 conference of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The Disability Act was now poised for a revamp based on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted in 2006, Mr.Arivanandham said. Under the State government’s scheme of assistance for the disabled, Rs. 6.86 crore has been provided during 2012-13 for 5,550 mentally retarded people, 416 persons with severe physical disability, and 112 persons affected by muscular dystrophy, Ms.Shyamala said, adding that the Department for the welfare of differently disabled had recently sanctioned Rs.12.6 lakh for providing monthly assistance of Rs.1,000 each to 300 leprosy-affected persons with affliction above 40 per cent for four months: December 2012 to March 2013.