‘Get counted Census 2011', a rally to create awareness on the importance of acquiring the right data about persons with disability was organised by Vidya Sagar at the Marina beach on Wednesday.

As per the 2001 Census, persons with disability constitute 2.5 percent of the total population. “We believe that they have been undercounted for various reasons, also since many are hesitant to disclose their disability to the enumerator due to the stigma attached,” says Meenakshi Balasubramanian, assistant co-ordinator, disabled legislation unit South, Vidya Sagar.

The disabled should be forthcoming and get counted. If the government has the exact statistics it will lead to right planning, appropriate policies, adequate allocations of funds and execution of welfare measures for this sector, said S. Gopalakrishnan, Director, Directorate of Census Operations, Tamil Nadu.

The questionnaire for the 2011 census has been refined and four more codes or categories of disability have been added. Age-related disabilities would also be included this census.

Around 16 lakh was the count of persons with disability in Tamil Nadu, and it was felt that there is excessive focus on blindness, he added.

The rally had the participation of around 200 students, persons with disability and members from various organisations.

“Many of the government office buildings are not accessible to persons with disability. A few of the participants of the rally had to rush to a government office in Saidapet to help a person with disability submit his application for a ration card that was denied to him for a long time,” said T.M.N. Deepak, Member of Tamil Nadu Differently Abled Welfare Board.

Attitudinal barrier of officials will hurt the persons with disability more than the disability itself, he added. The State Coordination Committee under the Persons with Disabilities Act has not met for some years and there is no redress mechanism for disability rights, he added.

A.Prabakaran, the ration card applicant, said, “I tried to get a ration card in 2008. I am yet to get one. I was not able to climb the stairs to meet the official concerned,” he said.

The official said that he was able to empathise with Mr.Prabakaran only after climbing down the stairs to meet the person with disability. “We have accepted the application. Ration card will be issued soon,” the official said.