Saturday, December 7, 2013

An Open letter to Chief Justice of India requesting Supreme Court to intervene and allow disabled voters to vote again in Delhi Elections

An Open letter to Hon’able Chief Justice of India requesting Supreme Court to intervene and allow disabled voters to vote again in Delhi Elections
Dear Sir,

I wish to write to you on an issue of national importance. The recently concluded Delhi Elections prevented a sizeable number of voters with disability to vote. This was publicized as the most high-tech polls ever but for disabled voters, it was like ostracizing in their own country. Live webcast notwithstanding, architectural, attitudinal and technological barriers confronted voters with disabilities while exercising their right to vote:  no Braille signs or ramps, an absence of Sign Language interpreters, no automatic door openers, narrow doorways and inaccessible voting machines.

On what basis does the capital of world’s largest democracy legally deprive an estimated 80,000 voters with disability of this fundamental civic right?  Despite Supreme Court orders, publicity towards disabled friendly polling booths was nil. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (just a day before the elections), the issues were raised in media but false assurances were given. No efforts were made by the Election Commission to raise the awareness even on World Disability Day. Despite PMO orders, CCPD orders, NIC guidelines, the website of Election Commission of India is inaccessible to voters with visual impairments.

On the D-day itself many voters with disability could not vote. Not only this was highlighted in the media but a complaint was sent by me to the Election Commissioner which is still not acknowledged. Shivani Gupta, an access consultant and a wheelchair user is regularly nominated by the Government of India as a subject expert to advice on issues and policies relating to accessibility. The recipient of National (Role Model) Award given by the President of India (2004) could not vote because of the insensitivity.

As per a media report there are 80,000 voters with disability in India. Since the results are not yet out and there was widespread deprivation of the rights of disabled voters, I request you to take suo moto cognizance of this and as a special case, stop declaration of result till disabled voters are called again and allowed to vote. The ink marking will easily allow identifying voters with disability who could not vote. This may seem a tedious exercise but it will respect the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities.

The voters with disabilities (around 80,000 in Delhi and 4.5 crore in India); capital of India; whole of India as well as the world can get a stronger message if the highest apex body in India can uphold the rights of world’s largest minority (persons with disabilities). We take pride in being world’s largest democracy and we look up to you respect the voting rights of persons with disabilities.

With regards,
Dr Satendra Singh (disabled and proud)
6 December 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Slammed by Supreme Court, DoPT revises discriminatory order

The Supreme Court in a historic decision directed the Centre and all state governments to provide three per cent job reservation to disabled persons in all their departments, companies and institutions.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam also clarified that the principle of not exceeding more than 50% reservation would not be applicable while granting quota for disabled persons. The apex court directed the authorities to compile the number of vacancies in all their departments give jobs to disabled persons under three percent reserved quotas within three months. Hon’ble court also asked DoPT to revise the earlier circular no.36035/3/2004-estt[res] dated 29th December 2005 that have inadvertently erased promotion reservations and other benefits.

Keeping in view the directions of Supreme Court, Para 14 of the OM dated 29.12.2005 is now modified by DoPT as per their immediate order released on International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Full letter can be read here.

DU Prof highlights hurdles in letter to EC (Disabled voters rip apart system on web)

DU Professor highlight hurdles in voting to election commission

Times of India covering the issue (6th Dec 2013)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Raw Deal for Physically Challanged Voters

The Supreme Court order of 2007 to Chief Election Commissioner was the result of a letter written to the Chief Justice of India by Mr Javed Abidi, convener of the Disabled Rights Group (DRG) before the 2004 election, demanding that necessary steps be taken to make the polling process accessible to the disabled. The letter was converted into public interest litigation (PIL). Apart from ramps in polling booths and Braille-enabled EVMs, the Supreme Court judgment also says that poll personnel must be sensitised to the special needs of the disabled (hearing impaired) and be courteous to them.

This was publicized as the most high-tech polls ever but for disabled voters, it was like ostracizing in their own country. Live webcast notwithstanding, architectural, attitudinal and technological barriers confronted voters with disabilities while exercising their right to vote:  no Braille signs or ramps, an absence of Sign Language interpreters, no automatic door openers, narrow doorways and inaccessible voting machines.

On what basis does the capital of world’s largest democracy legally deprive an estimated 80,000 voters with disability of this fundamental civic right?  I complained it to the election commission as well as Chief and State Commissioner’s of Persons with Disability.

Today’s Statesman has also covered the story on page 2. Sharing it here:


By Chandan Prakash Singh (
New Delhi, 4 December 2013, The Staesman (Delhi Edition, page 2)

The lack of ramps and Braille signs at several polling booths, led physically challenged voters, including first timers,having a tough time in exercising their franchise for the Delhi Assembly election today.

According to Dr Satendra Singh, professor at the University College of medical Sciences (UCMS) and GTB Hospital, despite clear guidelines from the Supreme Court, disabled voters were not informed about accessible polling booths either on radio or newspapers.

“The polling booth at a training centre outside GTB Hospital, Dilshad Garden, had no ramp or Braille signage facility as several of my students, including the first timers, faced lots of trouble while casting their votes. This was just one example of such mismanagement noticed while polling as there were numerous booths.” said Dr Singh.

Ms Abha Khetarpal, wheelchair user and the president of 'Cross the Hurdles' organization, said:
"Polling booth number A 28 at Subhash Nagar, where I was supposed to cast my vote, had no ramps for wheelchairs and no Braille stickers.” She said polling booths number 11, 12, 13, 14 in Rajokri had no ramps and Braille stickers. Besides, polling booth number 13 in Rajokri had seven stairs which was inaccessible for physically disabled people.

“How can it be called government for the people, by the people and for the people. If we report this to media they ask for proof of this with pictures which is not allowed. Said Ms Khetarpal.
Shivani Gupta, another wheelchair user and President of 'AccessAbility' organization, could not cast her vote due to inaccessibility of her polling booth.

Similar situations were noticed at Mundka (Nitholi) in North West Delhi which was completely inaccessible. Some disabled voters were also seen taking pictures of booth where wheelchair users could not enter.

“I am marking the complaint to Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities and State Commissioner of Person with Disabilities, Delhi, to take strict and appropriate action as disabled voters were deprived of their voting rights. I also declare, I am a person with disability myself. I am copying the mail to disabled voters mentioned above.”said Dr Satendra Singh.

On International Day of the Persons with Disabilities and just a day before the Delhi Elections, same issues were raised by me in the Hindi daily ‘Hindustan’ where election officer made false promises.Today’s ‘The Hindu’ has also raised the issue along with ‘The Times of India’. It’s now upon Election Commission to respond and rectify these grave mistakes in future. What is more ironical is the plight of persons with psychosocial impairment who are just not considered eligible for voting.

Not a disabled friendly electoral system

Not a disabled friendly electoral system


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A man carries a disabled relative to help her exercise her franchise in New Delhi on Wednesday.Photo: PTI
A man carries a disabled relative to help her exercise her franchise in New Delhi on Wednesday.Photo: PTI
While it tried through media campaigns to improve the voter turnout for the Delhi Assembly elections, a large number of persons with disability (PwDs) were still unable to reach the polling booths — as they were not disabled friendly — and could not exercise their franchise.

A case in point was that of Neeru Gautam, who works in the disability sector with Sahyogi. A resident of Block 34 of West Patel Nagar, Ms. Gautam decided to cast her vote by taking her power chair all the way to the polling station in Block 26 Community Centre.

However, on reaching her polling booth, she realised there was no ramp to enter and the entrance to the room was also blocked by a wooden pole which had been put in the middle of the passage to segregate the incoming and leaving voters.
“As my chair could not enter the room, I asked the election staff to come out and help me cast my vote. But despite repeated pleas, no one came forward. Then one person offered to lift me physically, which I refused outright and I came back without casting my vote,” she rued.

Ms. Gautam incidentally had been voting in every election. “Earlier, I had a helper who would take me inside the booth but ever since I became independent due to my power chair, I have not felt the need for one. The Election Commission should have ensured ramps and barrier-free access for the PwDs in this election.”

Some PwDs also vented their anger on social networking sites. Abha Khetarpal, a wheelchair user and president of NGO Cross the Hurdles, wrote on the Facebook page of Dr. Satendra Singh, Coordinator with the Enabling Unit of the Equal Opportunity Cell of the University College of Medical Sciences, how polling booth number A-28 in Subhash Nagar, where she had to cast her vote, had no ramps for wheelchair users and no Braille stickers.

She commented: “So, in this politics of vote bank, polling stations are inaccessible. How can this be called government of the people, by the people and for the people?”

Ms. Khetarpal also noted the media often asks for proof about such shortcomings in the electoral system. “But taking pictures is not allowed — a disabled system indeed.”

For his part, Dr. Singh said: “I haven’t seen any attempts on the part of the Election Commission to publicise voting facilities for the disabled. There is no information on radio or media. However, kudos to the EC Delhi to finally make their website accessible to visually impaired. Sadly, EC’s website is still inaccessible.”

Despite the heavy odds, some PwD voters remained determined to cast their vote. Virender Kalra, a bank manager and a resident of Subhash Nagar, was one of them. When he found there was no ramp for his wheelchair to climb on, he got two persons to lift him and take him inside the polling booth. “I was determined to vote and did so to play my role in ensuring a healthy democracy,” he said.

Delhi Elections 2013: Delhi not for Disabled Voters

Chief Election Officer, Delhi

Sub: Complaint to Chief Election Officer (Delhi) & Commissioner, Disabilities on violation of rights of disabled voters to vote.

Dear Sir,

Many of the persons with disabilities were unable to vote today because of inaccessible polling booths.

1-The polling booth at SC/ST training centre outside GTB Hospital, Dilshad Garden, Shahadra didnot have ramp or braille signage facility as per one of my student who casted his vote.

2-As per Abha Khetarpal, wheelchair user and President 'Cross the Hurdles':
"Polling booth number A 28 Subhash Nagar...where I had to cast my vote, has no ramps for wheelchair and no Braille stickers.....Polling booths number 11, 12,13, 14 in Rajokri have no ramps and Braille stickers....Polling booth 13 in Rajokri has 7 stairs...So in this politics of vote bank, polling stations are inaccessible....How can it be called government for the people, by the people and for the people....If we report this to media they want ''proof'' of this with pictures....But taking pictures is not allowed.....A disabled system indeed!!"
3-Shivani Gupta, another wheelchair user and President 'AccessAbility' was not able to vote because of inaccessibility! 

4-Though I appreciate EC Delhi on making their website accessible but Election Commission of India's website is still inaccessible and which is a shame. ( Despite repeated orders from PMO, NIC guidelines, Chief Commissioner of Persons with disabilities order the government website is inaccessible.

5-The polling booth  of Mundka (Nitholi) in North West Delhi looks inaccessible. Please find attached the photo taken from screenshot of live webcast of poll where it can be seen that a wheelchair users can not reach the polling table.

6-Despite Supreme Court orders, publicity was not given to inform disabled voters about accessible booth either on radio or newspapers.

7-Please find attached coverage in yesterday's 'Hindustan' on problems facing disabled voters.

8- I am marking the complaint to Chief Commissioner of Persons with disabilities and State Commissioner of person with Disabilities, Delhi, to take strict and appropriate action as disabled voters were deprived of their voting rights. I also declare, I am a person with disability myself. I am copying the mail to disabled voters mentioned above.

with regards
Dr Satendra Singh (4th Dec 2013, 2.53pm)

5th December 2013's 'The Hindu', 'Times of India' and 'Statesman' have also covered stories on the same issue.

Also read:

Delhi Elections 2013: Disabled voters rip apart system on web (Coverage of above issue in TOI)

Raw deal for physically challenged voters (Coverage of above issue in Statesman)

Not a disabled friendly electoral system (Coverage of above in Hindu)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

संघ लोक सेवा आयोग (UPSC) द्वारा विकलांग डॉक्टरो के अधिकारो का हनन

संघ लोक सेवा आयोग (UPSC) ने  विज्ञापन संख्या १६, १७, एवं १८/२०१३ के द्वारा सहायक प्रोफेसर के मेडिकल पदो के चयन के लिए ऑनलाइन भर्ती आवेदन पत्र निकाले हैं. यह पद शारीरिक विकलांग डॉक्टरो के लिए भी हैं लेकिन जैसे ही वह ऑनलाइन भर्ती आवेदन पत्र में अपनी विकलांगता दर्शाते हैं उनका आवेदन पत्र अस्वीकार कर लिया जाता है. यह कोई टेक्निकल त्रुटि नहीं है अपितु UPSC विकलांग डॉक्टरो को इन पदो पर सक्षम नहीं समझता है. २०११ में  डॉ  सतेन्द्र सिंह जो कि यूनिवर्सिटी कॉलेज ऑफ़ मेडिकल साइंसेज में  फिजियोलॉजी में सहायक प्रोफेसर हैं को UPSC ने इसी पद के लिए अस्वीकार कर दिया.डॉ सिंह CAT गए और कोर्ट के आर्डर पर उन्हें और बाकि विकलांग लोगो को साक्षात्कार के लिए बुलाया गया. 

इसी इतिहास कि पुनरावृति दुबारा हुई जब इस महीने विज्ञापन संख्या १६/२०१३ में upsc दुबारा फिजियोलॉजी में सहायक प्रोफेसर के पदो  पर आवेदन मांगे. इस बार फॉर्म ऑनलाइन था और फॉर्म भरने पर वेबसाइट ने दर्शाया कि आप विकलांग हैं और इस पद के लिए उपुक्त नहीं हैं. डॉ सिंह इसी पद पर यूनिवर्सिटी कॉलेज ऑफ़ मेडिकल साइंसेज में २००८ से पढ़ा रहे हैं. upsc का यह भेदभाव सिर्फ फिजियोलॉजी तक सिमित नहीं है. अगर विकलांग डॉक्टर साइकाइट्री, यूरोलॉजी में भी आवेदन करते हैं तो उनका आवेदन अस्वीकार कर दिया जाता है. विज्ञापन संख्या १७/२०१३ में भी अगर आप अपनी विकलांगता बताते हैं तो आप पैथोलॉजी, रेडिओडोअग्नोसिस  एवं अनेस्थेसिओलॉजी में चंडीगढ़ में आवेदन नहीं भर सकते. डॉ सिंह ने तुरंत मुख्य आयुक्त निशक्तजन एवं सेक्रेटरी, स्वास्थ्य एवं कल्याण मंत्रालय को पत्र भेजा और उन्होंने तुरंत संज्ञान लिया. परन्तु मंत्रालय ने upsc ko सिर्फ डॉ सिंह का आवेदन स्वीकार करने को कहा. इस बात से व्यथित डॉ सिंह ने दुबारा पत्र लिखा और कहा के सभी विकलांग डॉक्टरो को आवेदन का नैतिक अधिकार दिलाया जाये. 

अभी यह मामला सुलझा भी नहीं था कि upsc ने अपने नया विज्ञापन संख्या १८/२०१३ में आवेदन मांगे हैं पर यहाँ भी विकलांग डॉक्टर बायोकेमिस्ट्री, माइक्रोबायोलॉजी, न्यूरोलॉजी में आवेदन नहीं कर सकते हैं. 

इसके अलावा upsc आवेदको से निर्धारित प्रपत्र में ही शारीरिक विकलांगता  प्रमाण पत्र मांगते है और उसमे में भी उन्हें अपनी विकलांगता दर्शित करनी है. एक विकलांग जनो के नैतिक अधिकारो का हनन है. मुख्य आयुक्त निशक्तजन ने कई बार आदेश पारित किये हैं कि एक विकलांगता  प्रमाण पत्र होने के बावजूद बार बार प्रमाण पत्र बनाने कि जरूरत नहीं. डॉ सिंह ने इन दोनों बातो को फिर से मुख्य आयुक्त निशक्तजन के कोर्ट में उठाया है ताकि बाकी विकलांग डॉक्टर अपने अधिकारो का लाभ ले सकें. 

 हिंदी दैनिक राष्ट्रीय उजाला ने यह खबर २८ नवंबर २०१३ के अंक में छापी है (चित्र नीच देखें)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

UPSC discrimination: Relief for one disabled doctor but what about others

The Hindu and India Medical Times covered how I was rejected by UPSC to apply for the post of Assistant Professor of Physiology not once but twice. It also mentioned the discriminatory proforma available at the UPSC website which all disabled candidates have to used.

This proforma for medical certificate for disabled candidates applying to the various UPSC posts is not only discriminatory but also violating human rights of respect, equality and dignity. It asks candidates (despite having a permanent disability certificate to attach recent photo SHOWING disability). It’s a form of harassment, discrimination and infringement of the privacy, dignity, respect and human rights of the physically disabled applicants and should be STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. What is the need to strip when a qualified medical board has already examined the candidate?

The proforma is available on the website and mandatory for all disabled candidates.> Recruitment> Proforma> Proforma for medical certificate for PH candidate

Here is the screen shot:

The Times of India and The Hindu, the leading newspapers in India have covered both of the issues in their 16th November 2013 paper. India Medical Times also covered the story. Lets hope, the UPSC officials respond in time to allow all disabled doctors to apply as well as remove the discriminatory proforma at the earliest.

The Times of India. 16 Nov 2013. Page 8. UPSC flouts govt's job criteria for disabled.

The Hindu. 16 Nov 2013. Doctor with disability alleges discrimination by UPSC.

India Medical Times. 14 Nov 2013. Success for Dr Singh, but other physically challenged doctors still in lurch.

I take this opportunity to clarify few unintentional mistakes in print reports.

TOI, 16 Nov mentioned, "After I came to know that my candidature was rejected on ground of disability, I approached CAT. It said I could appear for interview. But I didn't get a call."

Clarification-The CAT order allowed me to appear for the interview and I did appeared for the interview but I wasn't selected. "I didn't get a call" is mistakenly written in the report.

The Hindu, 16 Nov states,"Dr. Singh has now approached a court seeking assistance to direct the UPSC to allow all the eligible disabled doctors to participate in the interview and remove the ‘discriminatory requirement’.

Clarification- The matter was already in the Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities. It was because of the speedier intervention of CCPD and Secretary, Health &  Family Affair that I was allowed. My dissatisfaction is with the order allowing only me. The 2011 letter from MoHFW allowed myself and other similarly placed candidates to appear for the interview. Current letter does not allow other candidates.

Also read:

Rejected by UPSC twice, physically challenged doctor battles for justice. India Medical Times. 8 Nov 2013

UPSC discriminating against me, alleges differently-abled doctor. The Hindu. 11 Nov 2013

M.S.J.E doesn't consider disabled doctors fit for teaching jobs. DNIS. 1 March 2011

Sunday, November 10, 2013

UPSC discriminating against me, alleges differently-abled doctor

Today's The Hindu also picks up the story. Read the full report at the below link:

It’s not about the Assistant Professor post of Physiology alone in Advt 16/2013. You cannot even apply for Psychiatry, Urology also. As it was not enough, I saw the new advt 17/2013 yesterday on UPSC site and and tried creating registration for the posts of Senior lecturer in Pathology, Radiodiagnosis, Anaesthesiology and Professor in Physiology at GMC Chandigarh through UPSC but the moment you enter disability details they reject your application. The problem is more for general candidate applicants (like me) since it’s mandatory to answer whether you are disabled or not and the moment you mention the truth, they kick you out. Perhaps our policy makers should learn about Dr Advani and Dr Verghese (wheelchair doctors from India)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rejected by UPSC twice, physically challenged doctor battles for justice

Friday, November 8, 2013

by Vidhi Rathee
India Medical Times

New Delhi: “Lightning does strike twice and at the same place when it comes to the plight of persons with disabilities,” said Dr Satendra Singh, a polio survivor and assistant professor of physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) and Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, New Delhi.

Read the full story here:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Polio survivor's fight to correct date of Salk's b'day

The WHO site this year still states 24th Oct as World Polio Day.  'Vaccine,' the official journal of the Edward Jenner Society, The International Society for Vaccines & the Japanese Society for Vaccinology, published my letter to the editor [Singh S. It's time to correct the literature. Vaccine. 2013 Jan 11;31(4):591.  doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.11.059. Epub 2012 Dec 4. PubMed PMID: 23219693.] contradicting the same. Still, we are continuing with a wrong trend and not giving right credit to the right man. Please find above, my story in today's Statesman (Delhi Edition).

Also read:

Enablist Impact: From blog to a prestigious journal

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Delhi Metro: Not so friendly for the disabled

Isha Arora, Oct 9, 2013, Deccan Herald, MetroLife

Travelling aboard his self-crafted skating board, Sushil Soni scrambled for getting aboard the Metro, not once but twice at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station and Central Secretariat. He had to switch lines to reach Lajpat Nagar at 10:30 pm. When Metrolife encountered this incident, it spoke to Soni to enquire if it happened to him regularly. 

To this he humbly answered, “It’s almost the last train towards home. You cannot expect helpers and guards to assist you this late in the night. They are very helpful otherwise.”  There is no denying the fact that Delhi Metro is the most disabled-friendly transport in the country owing to tactile-plates, wheelchairs, lifts, washrooms and assistance offered to physically challenged commuters. But does the system get paralysed at night?

Speaking to Anjlee Agarwal , accessibility consultant for Samarthyam, an outfit that conducts accessibility audits for DMRC, poses a different reality, as she says, “ You should always ask for assistance from the ‘sahayaks’ at the Metro line. We organise regular audits at stations. Minor problems do crop up, which we have listed in our report to DMRC so that these get addressed before the new lines are introduced.”

But talking to physically challenged people in the Capital throws open a Pandora’s box. Ummul Kher, an M Phil student in Jawahar Lal Nehru University walks with crutches. “It’s just not night hours. A week back I ventured out to Karkardooma from Hauz Khas at 11 am. It is very expensive to use an auto for long distances but it’s a torture to use Metro. It took me two days to recover and move out of bed as I was almost crushed by the sea of people at Rajiv Chowk. Though Metro stations could also be improved, it actually boils down to insensitivity of people - from both Metro staff and citizens.”
Ummul vehemently adds, “If there are Metro sahayaks at stations, they better make themselves visible because we cannot always drag ourselves up from lifts to ask for their assistance at AFC (Automatic Fare Collecting) gates. The accessibility feature of DMRC is something that it should flaunt and improve for setting up an example.” 

Raman Singh, a visually impaired Metro-user says, “They have very strategically built the tactile plates for our movement but there’s a special training needed for understanding which colour of plate leads towards which platform.” For instance, at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station, there are yellow and blue tactile plates leading to the respective Metro lines.

Dr Satendra Singh, Assistant Professor in University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) says, “It is a massive exercise to climb up at that platform for checking when I use callipers instead of crutches. You should see the toilets for the disabled at main Metro stations like Central Secretariat and Rajiv Chowk. These are either locked up or used as stores – I have never seen them working. And the lifts marked for disabled and senior citizens are crammed with all sorts of lethargic people.” 

Perhaps, to make the Metro disabled-friendly in the real sense of the word, it would take a behavioural check from both citizens and authorities to comprehend the problems of the physically challenged.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Salman Khan's Dixcy Scott Ad irks disability activists

In a commercial (video below) to sell Dixcy Scott inner wear for men, Salman Khan deliberately loses to a father of child with disability (shown in crutch) to make him win the cash prize. By losing deliberately for charity or to show magnanimity only because the child has disability sends wrong signals. It is more ‘a sell than a sale’ by showing pity on the people with disabilities they want to encourage the attitude of patronizing. If the child shown was a non-disabled child, then would the wearer of vest be not as macho as he is now? Or if the child shown was having invisible disability (hearing impairment), would the wearer of vest still lose the fight? Why do media want to portray that the people with disabilities are only ‘the takers’? Or does it give the society an opportunity to "demonstrate to themselves that they still belong to a moral community?’’

It is completely outrageous to see deliberate portrayal of helplessness just to sell a product. Disability is considered a problem that needs corrections and through the charity. And unfortunately because of this age long labelling and branding of people with disabilities, they themselves have accepted this as an order of the day. Such depictions of disability that originate in the arts, literature, film, television, and other mass media fiction works, are frequently normalized through repetition to the general audience.  The cute, loveable child in need of a cure and care sends the message that if benevolent others contribute money; we can make disability go away.

These instances don’t only create attitudinal barriers but also promote internalization of disability in the people themselves disabling them all the more.

Unfortunately disability still remains an issue of charity not only in our society but also in the psyche of the common man and the media world tends to promote this stereotype just for the sake of profits.

This psyche needs to be changed because thought processes do tend to become hereditary. We need to unlearn certain things and certain behaviours which we otherwise tend to ignore in the name of trends, patterns, etc. What we need is a paradigm shift. Otherwise we would never be able to come out the medical or charity model of disability and shift towards right based issues. To do businesses and ‘use’ disability as an object of pity to assuage conscience and giving the non disabled an opportunity to feel altruistic, I think, is absolutely inhuman.

As Salman Khan writes on the Dixcy Scott’s website ‘Difference starts within’, we must understand that we all are different and any one of us can have impairment any time in our life. It’s perfectly normal to be different, to have impairment. The indifferent attitudes of society make us disabled. It is like being inhuman. We strongly condemn the depiction of such things and would request the authorities to ban this commercial from being aired at the earliest.

Complaint has been sent to Indian Broadcasting Foundation and Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, India.

Abha Khetarpal (President, Cross the Hurdles), Counsellor with a disability
Dr Satendra Singh, Doctor with disability 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

विकलांग क्षेत्र में योगदान के लिए डॉ सतेन्द्र सिंह को सम्मान

विकलांग क्षेत्र में योगदान के लिए सम्मान
राष्ट्रीय उजाला १८ अगस्त २०१३

समाज सेवा के लिए सम्मान 
नवभारत टाइम्स गाजिअबाद 
१७ अगस्त २०१३ 

विकलांग क्षेत्र में योगदान के लिए डॉ सतेन्द्र सिंह को सम्मान

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Disability awards presented

Business Standard
New Delhi  August 14, 2013 Last Updated at 14:40 IST

The NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2013 were Wednesday presented to people who have made a mark in working for the disabled.
The awards were given in three categories - persons with disability, working professionals and organisations.
Nekram Upadhyay of the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre here was awarded for his work in helping improve the functional capability of people with disabilities.
Satendra Singh, a doctor and professor at University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital in Delhi, was awarded for advocating accessibility in medical colleges and hospitals.
Srinivasu Chakravarthula, Arathi Abraham, Arun Mehta and Bhushan Verma were awarded for their varied work on promoting accessibility for people with disabilities.
Lucknow-based Handicare group, which has advocated construction of ramps and parking spots for disabled people, and the Kriyate Design Solutions firm that made a Braille-enabled mobile phone were also given awards.
The NCR Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. was awarded for designing ATMs with voice assistance for the benefit of blind people.
The School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal, was also awarded for its work in the disability sector.
Presenting the awards, Balram Naik, minister of state for social justice and empowerment, said a law should be passed to provide accessibility to disabled people in educational institutions, government offices and private companies.
Recommendations made by the previous minister in this connection would soon be tabled in the cabinet, he said.

Award to Dr Satendra Singh for exemplary work in the field of disability

Loksatya. 17 Aug 2013. New Delhi

Award to Dr Satendra Singh for exemplary work in the field of disability

They innovate to e-nable

They innovate to -enable, disability activist

NEW DELHI: Arun Mehta wanted to do more with his engineering skills than stare at a computer screen all day. He wanted to use his skills to interact with and empower different kinds of people. Mehta, who has coded a software for scientist Stephen Hawking, has developed many software and apps for people with disabilities.
Bhushan Verma, a multimedia professional, developed a tool for children to help them learn basic concepts like social skills, language and expressions. His inspiration was his little son Sainyam who is autistic.
Arun and Bhushan are among six individuals who were awarded the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)-MphasiS Universal Design Awards on Wednesday. The awards, which were instituted in 2010, recognize contribution of people under three categories: persons with disabilities, working professionals and organizations. Four companies that work on innovations that can make infrastructure accessible and inclusive were also awarded.
Mehta says his interaction with Hawking was "life altering". It changed his vision and idea of a career in programming. He had to develop software for Hawking that would help him perform many functions with just one button. "It was tough but I really worked hard to make the software fast and useful for Hawking. He is kind and has a brilliant sense of humor," says Mehta .
He has developed a software called Skid for mentally challenged children. "Children, who cannot speak properly, including many with cerebral palsy and autism, are denied access to a regular school, even though they could communicate in other ways, for instance using a computer. It is such other ways that Skid explores," says Mehta.
Dr Satendra Singh, assistant professor, University College of Medical Sciences who was also awarded on Wednesday recollects how he had applied for the position of assistant professor in physiology in 2011 but did not get an interview call. "All others who had applied got a call from UPSC but I didn't. When I called to check why, they said I was not eligible and a person with disability cannot teach at a medical college," says Singh. He did not lose hope. Singh consulted NCPEDP and went to court against such discrimination. Since then, he has filed several RTIs and exposed inaccessible hospitals, ATMs, colleges and post offices.
Nekram Upadhyay, a rehabilitation engineer, was also awarded. He is currently developing a low cost electric wheelchair. While electric wheelchairs costs between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 25 lakh, Nekram's prototype is likely to cost Rs 30,000-40,000. He says customizing technologies for different kinds of disabilities is a tough but satisfying job.
Srinivasu, who is leading accessibility initiatives at a private organization and Arathi Abraham, alumna of NID who designs alternative communication material were also among awardees. Organizations like Handicare —Indian Association of Persons with Disabilities, Kriyate Design Solutions, NCR Corporation India and School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal were awarded.
Dr Satendra Singh, founder of 'Infinite Ability'

Times of India 15 Aug 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

AIIMS plans access to disabled, others silent

Times of India 12 Aug 2013

AIIMS plans access to disabled, others silent

NEW DELHI: When it comes to access for disabled people, Indian hospitals have a long way to go. In April 2013, the Medical Council of India wrote to all the medical colleges in the country asking them to submit compliance reports stating the degree to which the institutions are accessible to the disabled. 

They received responses from only 32 of over 300 colleges and only from AIIMS in Delhi. Medical College and Hospital at Sangli is the only one to send photographs as proof of accessibility. Almost all others promise to do better with their new buildings. 

The council has sent the set of responses to Satendra Singh, professor of physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), Delhi University, who had made a representation to the chief commissioner of PWD on the same issue. The letter from the MCI was prompted by this representation and he had also asked for "access audits" to be made a mandatory part of MCI's inspection before accreditation. 

The response from AIIMS said that the authorities are working on this issue."The engineering services department of AIIMS has already initiated action in this regard," said the report. An internal memo with the report shows that AIIMS had constituted a committee in April "to inspect the institute building with respect to access facilities of persons with disabilities... and thereafter shall give their specific recommendations." 

Several other institutions that have admitted to not being fully accessible say in their reports that they are getting there. "State PWD has agreed to provide toilets in the building for people using a wheelchair" at Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed College in Barpeta, Assam; "Government of Jharkhand, Ranchi is being requested to provide necessary budgetary provision to provide barrier-free access to persons of disability," said Patliputra Medical College, Dhanbad. Dr PDM Medical College in Amravati also said, "Procedure to fulfill requirements is being initiated." 

Most of the 32 colleges that have responded to the MCI claim to be accessible. But these claims ought to be verified, feels Singh. M S Ramaiah Medical College and Hospital, Bangalore said in its response, "We have an escalator in the college and the hospital which provides easy access to the building." 

Considering the only kind of disabled persons eligible for admission though reservation in medical colleges are "persons with lower limbs locomotive disabilities of 50% to 70%", escalators will act as barriers, added Singh. 

However, Medical College, Kolkata, doesn't think its disabled students "require any special access." Their response said, "There are about 21 physically disabled students studying MBBS Course in this college, at present, with 50%-70% having disability of lower limb. They are attending classes without any difficulty." 

Others on the list simply replied saying that there are no disabled students on their rolls. Many colleges said they are accessible to wheelchair users but don't have appropriate signage for the blind or hearing-impaired.

Most medical colleges ignore directive on facilities for disabled

Most medical colleges ignore directive on facilities for disabled

Only 32 of the 355 medical colleges/institutions in India have submitted compliance reports on access facilities for persons with disabilities to the office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) despite a directive by the Medical Council of India.

Dr. Satendra Singh, coordinator of the Enabling Unit of the Equal Opportunity Cell at the University College of Medical Sciences here on whose petition the MCI had issued the directive, said CCPD forwarded copies of all the replies received from various institutions/colleges to him on June 13 and in these there was just one response from a medical college in Delhi.

The All India Institute of Medical Science here responded by directing the Engineering Services Department to constitute a committee of Assistant Engineers (Civil) who will conduct access audit and look into Dr. Singh’s suggestions and submit a report within 10 days. Though the parent institute showed resolve, none of the six new AIIMS-like institutions responded to MCI. Most top medical colleges and colleges in many State and Union Territories have not bothered to reply.

Dr. Singh said some of the responses showed utter disregard among the institutions towards creating a barrier-free environment and expressing a sensitive approach towards the disabled. The Principal of Medical College, Kolkata, said: “There are 21 students with disabilities and they do not require any special access for their disability.”

Critical of the approach, Dr. Singh said: “This assumption, without involving persons with disabilities, is the attitudinal barrier. Though, I appreciate the fact that their new auditorium has a special ramp but assuming that students with disabilities do not require special access is a bit harsh.”

He said a few institutes such as SGTMHS Gurgaon, PDMMC Amravati, SGRR Dehradun, MIMS Andhra Pradesh and SGRD Amritsar repeatedly maintained that there were no persons with disabilities in their medical college thereby permanently shutting their doors to wheelchair users.

“What if Stephen Hawking or Dr. S. H. Advani (the wheelchair user oncologist who pioneered bone marrow treatment for leukaemia in India) want to give lectures at these institutes?” he asked.

Similarly, he said the Dean of Medical College, Vadodara, slammed the door shut on visually-impaired persons by stating, “We don’t have Braille symbols as we don’t receive candidates with visual disability”.

The responses, he said, also carried some positives. Some medical colleges like GMERS Vadodara and JNMC Wardha said adaptation toilets for wheelchair users were available. CMCH Pathankot even mentioned that they have such toilets “at every floor of the building” while the Dean of PCMS Bhopal wrote that the institute was “fully accessible and there are no architectural barriers”.

The good news, he said, was actually coming from the lesser known medical institutions which not only admitted their mistakes but also showed a will to rectify them.