Around 200 visually-challenged persons staged a protest in Poonamallee on Tuesday against the head of the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH).

They sought the official’s transfer for some remarks he made at a public meeting in August. The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, New Delhi, has now issued a show-cause notice to the official.

According to the College Students and Graduates Association of the Blind, at a meeting organised on August 27 by NIVH, a Central government-run training centre for IAS officers at the Directorate of Medical Services, I. Arivanandham, the regional director of NIVH, spoke about the employability of visually-impaired persons.

The protesters said Dr. Arivanandham told participants at the meeting that the visually challenged were not capable of doing certain jobs. A few non-governmental organisations too had participated in the event, they said.

Association president M. Nagarajan said, “The government has mandated that three per cent reservation for the disabled must be followed in jobs in all departments. Following the August 27 meeting, however, the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission has said the visually challenged will be given jobs if there are suitable posts. Because of an officer’s opinion, we will now not be considered for some posts even if we qualify for them.”

An official at NIVH said Dr. Arivanandham had not made any objectionable remarks. He had only explained the needs of the visually challenged. They have to be taught unlike sighted persons who learn by observation and not imitation.

“The eyes process 80 per cent of information. For the visually challenged, information should be presented in an accessible form,” he said. Dr. Arivanandham did not say they should not be given jobs but that such persons required more training, the official said.

The protestors, however, said they wanted the government to take action against Dr. Arivanandham as his speech caused them mental agony.

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