TAMIL NADU

`Help the disabled children contribute to society'

CHENNAI, JAN. 19. Complete screening of children between 0 to 14 years for birth defects will give a full picture of disabilities in this age group and help take corrective steps, said Mohan Vergheese Chunkath, State Commissioner for the Disabled.

It was necessary to ensure that the disabled children contribute to society when they grew up. Early intervention would make them productive before they turned 20, he told representatives from non-governmental organisations and Government officials.

At the valedictory of a two-day seminar held at the Dr. MGR Higher Secondary School and Home for the Speech and Hearing Impaired here today, he said, "work in disability is interdisciplinary and the departments of education and health play a pivotal role. We are falling short of the expectations listed out by the NGOs," he said. He assured the gathering that the department would heed the recommendations and resolutions passed at the seminar.

The Asia Pacific decade of the disabled 2002 was extended for 12 years to enable Asian countries achieve the targeted growth.

"By bringing children into mainstream society we will be saving money on infrastructure," said Rita Mary, Director, Guidance Home for Adult Deaf Girls. "There is a need for the disabled to form associations who can lobby for an inclusive, barrier-free society for themselves."

The seminar, which discussed ways to meet the deadlines stipulated by the United Nations declaration, also focussed on the lack of enthusiasm for the implementation of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. P.Jeyachandran, Director, Vijay Human Service for the Mentally Retarded, said," The programme aims at bringing all the disabled children into mainstream schools. But there are not enough special educators. For this, we need short-term training programmes."

The NGO representatives and the government officials wanted to establish a `rights-based society' that included forming self-help organisations of the disabled and a separate forum for women with disability.

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