For persons with disabilities in the city, getting an Aadhaar card is a difficult and stressful experience.
“The Aadhaar enrolment process is not equipped at all for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities and those with high support needs,” said Smitha Sadasivan, member, Disability Rights Alliance.
At a 10-day enrolment camp last month, Vidya Sagar, an organisation that works with people with disabilities, attempted to get as many people as possible enrolled, but a number of difficulties arose: children with autism and neurological disabilities were not able to sit still for the photograph and were scared of the iris biometric scanner; some with cerebral palsy were not able to get their fingers scanned and many simply couldn’t cope with the process, while others struggled.
“A 30-year-old woman with an intellectual disability had seizures due to the stress of the process,” Ms. Sadasivan said.
For parents too, it was harrowing: a parent of a teenager with autism said her daughter was not able to sit still and look at the camera and for many, it took hours and several attempts to have their children enrolled. One parent said she had gone to two other centres previously but had not been able to get her child enrolled.
Aadhaar was a must for all schemes earmarked for persons with disabilities, said Ms. Sadasivan.
The organisation is seeking an exemption of both biometrics (iris and fingerprints) based on the requirements of the persons with disabilities, and is asking for the Aadhaar to have only the photograph.
Since the experience with the camp, Ms. Sadasivan said she had engaged with and written to several officials of UIDAI, the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities — but in vain.
Many persons with disabilities have not been able to get Aadhaar cards, said disability rights activist S. Nambu Rajan and have not been able to get their disability pensions owing to this. “There are lots of difficulties with the process,” he said.
Reaching an Aadhaar enrolment centre too, is a challenge for many persons with disabilities, said T.M.N. Deepak, State president, December 3 movement.
“The first centre I went to was on the first floor and inaccessible. The next one I went to was extremely cramped and access was difficult. We flagged this issue a few years ago and the then State Commissioner for the Differently Abled wrote to the UIDAI to make the process more accessible. However this has not happened,” he said.