Workshop organised by National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities

The need to accept persons with disabilities as human beings is imperative to bring about a change in their lives, according to speakers at a workshop organised here on Thursday by the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities.

“Why is it difficult to understand that a person with disabilities also needs to enjoy a holiday or participate in recreational activities,” asked Poonam Natarajan, chairperson of National Trust, inaugurating the workshop. She called for a change in the attitude of public who believed that disability is a stigma and sympathised with the family.

The two-day southern regional workshop will focus on emphasising the State's obligation to include persons with disabilities as stakeholders in programmes envisaged for them. Representatives from government agencies and non-governmental organisations, professionals and stakeholders from across the country are participating.

Rehabilitation Council of India's member secretary J. P. Singh said though three Acts had been enacted — the Rehabilitation Council of India Act 1992, the Persons with Disability Act 1995 and the National Trust Act 1997 — there was little change in the quality of life of persons with disability. This was the reason for the emphasis on discussing the United Nations' Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

“An Act is a soft piece of legislation, unlike a convention. India has ratified the convention in 2007. We want amendments to the convention. For instance, we do not accept the clause that says “each State Party [country] undertakes to take measures to the maximum of its available resources”. In Nagaland, this clause was used to point out that the State did not have the resources (read money) to build ramps,” Dr. Singh said.

For the stakeholders such as T.A.P. Varadakutti, president of Tamil Nadu Association for the Welfare of the Physically handicapped, B. Meenakshi, assistant coordinator, Disability Legislation Unit of Vidya Sagar and Zamir Dhale, advocacy manager for Sense International (India), an organisation working with persons with hearing and visual impairments, the workshop provided an opportunity to take to the government the needs of thousands of persons like them across the country.

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