A two-day conference of persons with disability to discuss the proposed new law on disability got under way here on Thursday.

The conference, being organised under the aegis of Vidya Sagar, an organisation working with persons with special needs, at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, is to provide a forum for persons with disabilities from various parts of the State to voice their concerns and requirements.

Inaugurating the session, Javed Abidi, Convener of the Disability Rights Group, said they wanted the new law to address issues such as representation for all kinds of disabilities, facilities in schools for inclusive education and job reservation in private companies also.

Mr. Abidi said that the Persons with Disability Act of 1995 had neglected conditions such as dyslexia, learning disability and autism, and had merely mentioned mental retardation and mental illness.

“When a normal person is disabled in an accident, he is shunted out of his job citing his disability. We want the government to provide reservations in all categories of work. An autistic person can be an excellent painter or singer. Why deny him the opportunity to become the principal of a Fine Arts College because of his disability,” he asked.

“It is eight months since the proposal to write a new law was taken up but till date the reports of meetings held have not been brought to the public domain,” he added.

At present nearly 20 members, representing persons with disabilities have been included in the group that is involved in framing the law. The deadline for writing the new law is December.

Mr. Abidi is currently on a tour around the country to encourage members of various disability organisations to join the discussions and provide feedback.

“Having the disabled [person] on the team will improve how the Disability Act is formulated. The choice is to either keep quiet till the draft of the law is ready or to participate by reading the draft and communicating with the committee members about it,” he said.

On Friday, the conference will also discuss the 2011 Census.

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