People’s attitude to the world of the disabled is changing rapidly. This is perhaps due to a greater understanding of the disability movement or the impact that people with disabilities make when they display their skills.
All this has led to the disabled community being looked at with respect rather than with pity. It has finally made them ask for equal status in society – a society in which they take their place alongside the “non-disabled”.
The Indian Government endorsed this movement by passing the Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection Rights and Full Participation) Act in December 1995. This Act is meant to facilitate the disabled in overcoming various practical, psychological and social hurdles that are created by their disability.
Legally, it allows them the right to access areas of education, vocational training, employment in a barrier-free environment, and with dignity and independence.
The seven categories of disability recognised by the Act are:
- Low vision
- Hearing impairment
- Locomotors disability
- Mental retardation
- Mental illnessThe salient features of the Act are:1) Prevention and Early Detection of DisabilitiesState governments and local authorities will:
- Undertake surveys investigating the cause of occurrence of disabilities.
- Promote methods of preventing disabilities.
- Take measures to provide medical care for mothers and children.
- Train staff at primary health centers.
- Screen children once a year for disabilities.
- Create awareness through mass media, schools and health centers.EducationThe appropriate government authority will:
- Provide free education to every child with disability till the age of 18 years.
- Encourage and facilitate integration of children with disabilities into normal schools.
- Promote setting up of special schools in the private and government sector to cater to all special needs.
- Equip special schools with vocational training facilities.
- Make programmes for part time and functional literacy classes for those who could not complete formal education.
- Provide scholarships, books and other learning aids.
- Remove architectural barriers from schools, colleges etc.
- Modify the examination system and the curriculum to cater to the special needs of the child.
- Set up teacher training institutes to create technical man power to deal with all the requirements of the field.
- The government shall identify posts that can be reserved for people with disabilities. A minimum of three percent posts will be reserved for people with disabilities.
- Incentives will be given to employers in the public and private sectors to ensure that at least five percent of the workforce is composed of people with disabilities.Affirmative Action
- The government will make policies allowing for allotment of land at concessional rates for building a house, setting up a business or setting up special schools.
- Schemes will be made to provide aids and appliances to people with disabilities.Accessibility
- Provisions will be made for ramps in public buildings.
- Adapting toilets for wheel chair users.
- Lifts will be modified to provide Braille symbols and auditory signals.
- Engravings at the edges of railway platforms for the visually impaired.Institutions for people with severe disability
- A person with 80 percent or more disability is considered as severely disabled for whom the government will establish and maintain institutions.Fraudulent Behaviour
- Those attempting to avail the benefits meant for people with disabilities will be punished with upto two years imprisonment and upto Rs 20,000 as fine.The above mentioned concessions and facilities are intended towards creating not only a physically accessible environment for the people with disabilities but also one that is free of all attitudinal barriers and prejudices.Concessions available for people with disabilities
- Concession on railways: A person with a disability, along with one escort will recieve 75 percent concessional rate on the basic fare. Issuing of the ticket does not require the physical presence of the person with disability. A letter of authorisation will do.
- Air travel concession: Fifty percent concession is given to visually impaired and orthopedically impaired people. No concession is given to escorts.
- Postage: Literature for the blind is exempt from postage if sent by surface mail.
- Income Tax: For the visually impaired, mentally retarded and physically challenged people, the level for amount of deduction from total income is Rs 40,000.
- Educational allowances: For central government employees who have children that are mentally or physically challenged, the reimbursement of tuition fee is Rs 50.
- Legal aid: Legal aid is provided free of cost to all people with disabilities.