Wednesday, January 29, 2014

विकलांग मतदाताओं का डाटा ही नहीं मिला

डॉ सतेन्द्र सिंह हरिभूमि न्यूज.नई दिल्ली

देश में विकलांग मतदताओं को लेकर राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग गंभीर नही है। 
इस बात का खुलासा सूचना के अधिकार के तहत मांगी गई जानकारी से हुआ है।
गुरूतेग बहादुर अस्पताल स्थित युनीवर्सिटी कालेज आफ मेडीकल साइंस में 
फिजियोलाजी के प्रोफेसर एवं विकलांग अधिकारों के प्रणेता डा सत्येन्द्र सिंह ने सूचना के
अधिकार के तहत विकलांग मतदाताओं की समस्याओं एवं उन्हें दूर करने के संबंध में
किये गये प्रयासों की जनाकारी राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग से मांगी तो आयोग के जवाब में 
सामने आया है कि राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग के पास देश के विकलांग मतदाताओं के बारे में
कोई डाटा तक ही नही है। इतना ही नेत्रहीन तो राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग की वेबसाइट तक
नही देख सकते जबकि पीएमओ,नेशनल इंफोर्मेटिक्स सेन्टर तथा मुख्य आयुक्त 
निशक्तजन की ओर से इस बारे में स्पष्ट निर्देश जारी किये गये है। उन्होंने कहा कि
उच्चतम न्यायालय ने 2004 में विकलांग मतदाताओं को जागरूक करने के लिए टीवी एवं
अखबार के माध्यम से कैंपेन चलाने के निर्देश दिये थे लेकिन अभी तक ऐसे कोई कदम
नही उठाये है। ना ही मतदान में विकलांग की भागीदारी सुनिश्चत करने को राष्ट्रीय चुनाव
आयोग ने राज्यों एवं केन्द्र शासित प्रदेशों से संपर्क किया। डा. सिंह ने कहा कि 2004 में 
जारी उच्चतम न्यायालय के निदेशरें का अभी तक पालन न किया जाना विकलांग 
मतदाताओं के मताधिकार का पूरी तरह हनन है।

Why you should care about the Disabilities Bill

A must read post on the current controversy surrounding the Rights of PwD Bill.

Why you should care about the Disabilities Bill 

Amba Salelkar DNA,  January 29, 2014 

So there are people on crutches and wheelchairs at a candlelight vigil, asking for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill to be passed. Maybe you ignored it, and maybe rolled your eyes at the prospect of “more reservations”, because that’s all you hear anyone talking about.
Now, there is talk in the media about how the Disabilities Bill is bad, violative of some international laws and human rights, and maybe you wondered why there was a volte face. In any case, when “normal people” in India are suffering so much, how much would the government be able to do for people with disabilities anyway?
You are part of the 85% or so of the Indian population who are persons without disabilities. You might also be, relatively, a privileged person, since you are reading this article, which is in English and which you found on the internet, most likely through social media. Sure, there is a link between disability and poverty; so most persons with disabilities in India hover around the poverty line. 
This is not, however, why you should care about the Disabilities Bill. You should care about it, because it will, without a doubt, affect you, even if not directly.
The Disabilities Bill is perhaps yet another legislation aimed at the protection and empowerment of yet another minority group. Unlike many other minority groups, however, membership to the minority of persons with disabilities is always open. And unlike other minority groups which do have open membership, however, membership to this minority is rarely – if ever – out of choice. 
You finish reading this article, walk out of your office and, in an unfortunate turn of events, get hit by a bus. You are unable to walk without assistive devices. You find yourself slowly excluded from your friend circles since you cannot join them on the usual Saturday night dinner-drinks-and-a-film plans because most restaurants, bars and theatres are not disabled-friendly, and therefore inaccessible, and it is too embarrassing for you to ask friends or completely untrained staff members for help all the time. You try to see if there is some way to enforce these private players to provide ramps and other means of access, but the law only requires government establishments to be accessible to the disabled.
You have a child who is diagnosed with autism. Like all parents, you believe your child has promise despite the “unfortunate” label of disability, and you want her to go to a regular school and interact with other children, and be given the additional support she needs. The Right to Education Act says children have a right to inclusive education, doesn’t it? Your child has started going to the neighbourhood school and you perceive that she actually enjoys, and is quite insistent, on her daily routine. A few weeks later, you receive a strange bureaucratic order of sorts, declaring that it has been deemed “necessary” that your child goes to a special school. You are appalled and go to a lawyer. You find, much to your horror, that this exclusion is valid in the law. 
Your parents are old, and you work abroad. Your mother is losing her eyesight and your father, his hearing, and both disabilities are quite severe. Since everything is so inaccessible, they have their fair share of mishaps, which their maid notices. She narrates this story to many people, and one self-appointed “social worker”, purportedly acting on their behalf, goes to an assessment board with an application saying your parents are people with “high support needs” since they need intensive support for daily activities and to access facilities, and are thus unable to live on their own. 
Accordingly, because they are so vulnerable to the inaccessible environment around them, the board’s idea of “high support” is to move them into an institution for the elderly disabled. You come back in a frantic hurry. You find your parents do not have a right to insist on what living arrangements they want, and that India has a law which allows an assessment board to determine the support they require without even consulting them, let alone you. Luckily, your parents are ultimately released, quite crudely, into your “custody”. 
Your best friend, who has been coping with mental health issues for a while, has finally been diagnosed with bipolar depression. You know he has his moments of vulnerability, but for the most part, knows how to take care of himself, much like everyone else. His relatives disagree and, armed with medical certificates from doctors certifying he is “of unsound mind”, approach a court to have one of themselves appointed as guardian. 
The atmosphere of the court and the sheer frustration of the process triggers your friend to have an episode in court, and the court accordingly holds that he is “incapable of taking legally binding decisions” for himself. His bank accounts, assets – everything – is taken away from him and solely managed by a guardian appointed from amongst his relatives, with less than noble intentions. They are taking advantage of him, and he has no recourse because a court has actually certified that he is of unsound mind. 
His guardian is now selling off a flat that belongs to him, though your friend wants to hold on to it. You look at the law that governs the guardianship, and find that there is no way to appeal the appointment of a guardian. There is a promising section which says the guardianship is limited, and that the process should be consultative between the guardian and the person. But if there is a clash of opinion, you find that there is no way to address this. Your friend is helpless. 
These aren’t conjectures – they are borne out of extremely real scenarios and how they would play out against the lacunas in the law. And if we had a law that was entirely compliant with the UNCRPD, all of these situations would have happy endings. And even if we have to wait, we are still hoping for one.

Amba Salelkar is a lawyer, who moved into disability law and policy after six years in criminal litigation. She works with the Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability and Policy. She tweets @mumbaicentral.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

विकलांगों के लिए गंभीर नहीं चुनाव आयोग (डॉ सत्येन्द्र सिंह की RTI )

Dr Satendra Singh's RTI exposes problems for voters with disabilities
पंजाब केसरी, २६ जनवरी २०१४
नई दिल्ली: देश में विकलांग मतदताओं को चुनाव के दौरान अक्सर कठिनाइयों का सामना करना पड़ता है, लेकिन राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग इसे लेकर गंभीर नहीं लग रहा है। इस बात का खुलासा सूचना के अधिकार के तहत मांगी गई जानकारी से हुआ है।  गत दिनों दिल्ली सहित अन्य राज्यों में हुए विधान सभा चुनावों के दौरान भी विकलांग मतदाताओं को इनका खामियाजा भुगतना पड़ा है। 
 गुरूतेग बहादुर अस्पताल स्थित यूनिवर्सिटी  कालेज आफ मैडिकल साइंस में फिजियोलॉजी के प्रोफेसर एवं विकलांग अधिकारों के लिए लड़ाई लडऩे वाले डॉ. सत्येन्द्र सिंह ने जब सूचना के अधिकार के तहत विकलांग मतदाताओं की समस्याओं एवं उन्हें दूर करने के संबंध में किये गये प्रयासों की जानकारी राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग से मांगी तो आयोग के जवाब चौंकाने वाले थे।
डॉ. सिंह ने का कहना है कि सरकार एक तरफ तो विकलांगों के सशक्तीकरण की बात कहती है, दूसरी तरफ राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग के पास देश के विकलांग मतदाताओं के बारे में कोई डाटा ही नही है। इतना ही नेत्रहीन तो राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग की वेबसाइट तक नही देख सकते जबकि प्रधानमंत्री कार्यालय, नेशनल इंर्फोमेटिक्स सेन्टर और मुख्य आयुक्त निशक्तजन की ओर से इस बारे में स्पष्ट निर्देश जारी किये गये है। आरटीआई से प्राप्त जानकारी का खुलासा करते हुए उन्होंने कहा कि उच्चतम न्यायालय ने 2004 में विकलांग मतदाताओं को जागरूक करने के लिए टीवी एवं अखबार के माध्यम से कैंपेन चलाने के निर्देश दिये थे। प्राप्त जानकारी के तहत आयोग ने अभी तक ऐसे कोई कदम नहीं उठाये हैं।

संबंधित संस्थाओं से संपर्क करने में भी कोताही
मतदान में विकलांग जनों की भागीदारी सुनिश्चत करने के लिए राष्ट्रीय चुनाव आयोग ने राज्यों एवं केन्द्र शासित प्रदेशों से कोई संपर्क नहीं किया। इसके अलावा आयोग ने विकलांगता के क्षेत्र में कार्य करने वाले किसी एनजीओ से भी विकलांग मतदाताओं की भागीदारी सुनिश्चत करने के लिए भी कोई संपर्क किया गया।
डॉ. सिंह ने कहा कि 2004 में जारी उच्चतम न्यायालय के निर्देशों का अभी तक पालन न किया जाना विकलांग मतदाताओं के मताधिकार का पूरी तरह हनन है। आम चुनाव में मुश्किल से 100 दिन बचे है। ऐसे में विकलांग मतदाताओं को होने वाली परेशानियों के निवारण के लिए हम अपनी आवाज नीति निर्माताओं, सरकार तक पहुंचाने का प्रयास कर रहे हैं। 
Dr Satendra Singh's RTI against election commission
नवोदय टाइम्स, २६ जनवरी २०१४ 

RTI EXPOSE: Polls near, but no data of voters with disabilities

Voters with disabilities in lurch, reveals Dr Satendra Singh's RTI
Times of India
Manash Pratim Gohain, TNN Jan 27, 2014, 05.32AM IST 
NEW DELHI: Even as India celebrates "National Voters' Day" last Saturday, the world's largest democracy is ill-prepared to safeguard electoral rights of voters with disabilities.
The general elections are just a couple of months away, and the Election Commission (EC) has no record of voters with disabilities. Despite orders from the offices of the Prime Minister of India, National Informatics Centre and chief commissioner for People with Disabilities (PwDs), the website of the EC is still not accessible to electors with visual disabilities.
While the Supreme Court too directed the EC to create adequate awareness for electors with disabilities through mass media campaigns, information availed via Right to Information revealed that no separate awareness campaign has been created for disabled voters.
RTIs also revealed that EC has no record on electoral speeches and debates of candidates made available to hearing-impaired voters through sign language interpreters and subtitling and the commission has sent no communication to the CEO of states and union territories to involve maximum electors with disabilities.
The National Voters' Day, being celebrated on January 25 since 2011, is dedicated to the constitutional rights of adult suffrage granted to every India citizen, irrespective of religion, race, caste, community, language, region or socio-economic considerations.
In the Delhi assembly elections in December, RTI activist and a doctor with disability at University College of Medical Science, Delhi University, Dr Satendra Singh campaigned before and after the polling day on the hurdles faced by electors with disability.
"I complained to state commissioner for PwD when many disabled voters could not vote in Delhi elections due to inaccessible polling booths. In response, the commissioner only submitted an old letter where he wrote to the chief electoral officer about guidelines to follow. The message is clear: we are not vote banks and those who are supposed to be safeguarding our rights are sitting idle, doing nothing," said Singh.
When asked via RTI: "Are the issues of persons with disabilities covered in Systemic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP)?", the EC replied in negative. To another question asking for "details of persons with disabilities and organizations for disability consulted to ensure maximum participation of electors with disability?", the reply said "no information available."
Source: Times of India, page 10 dated 27 Jan 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A floral wreath on Government’s inability to protect rights of hearing impaired on Republic Day

In spectacular display of its might, India today celebrated its 65th Republic Day portraying its rich culture, achievements in diverse fields and the military prowess at the parade at Rajpath. Its sixty-four years, after we became a Republic but Government of India has never ever relayed Republic day parade with sign language interpretation for the millions of hearing impaired in World’s largest democracy.

After the persistent advocacy by Disabled Rights Group (DRG) and National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting finally agreed to have Sign Language interpretation on DD News, DD Bharti and DD Urdu. The activists demanded that it should also be available on DD National, which is the main producer of the coverage and from which ALL channels (national/international/web based) take the feed.

DD National, the flagship channel of Doordarshan, the Indian public service broadcasting corporation, and the most widely available terrestrial television channel in India. Major events like Republic Day Parade, Independence Day Celebrations, National Award Presentation ceremonies, President and Prime Minister’s addresses to the Nation, President’s address to the joint session of Parliament, important Parliamentary debates, Railway and General Budget presentations, Question Hour in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Election results and analysis, swearing-in ceremonies, President and Prime Minister’s visits abroad and visits of important foreign dignitaries to India are covered live on DD National.

Unfortunately, they did not agree. But when DRG & NAD persisted and hundreds came out on the streets, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting finally relented and issued an advisory for all private channels to take the feed from DD News, with the Sign Language interpretation.

Today’s R-day parade showcased India's 'unity in diversity'. However, the same cannot be said of IB Ministry. One of the objectives of the Prasar Bharti is to safeguard the citizen’s right to be informed freely. Let’s see how our media fared this day for millions of hearing impaired citizens in India.

DD News helped millions of disabled to gather accessible coverage with two sign language interpreters. DD Urdu and DD Bharti followed. DD National, Loksabha TV and Rajyasabha TV however, relayed R-day parade WITHOUT interpreter.

The TV Today Network (of India Today group) is one of India's leading English-Hindi news television networks along with Network 18 and NDTV. 

TV Today includes Aaj Tak (Hindi), Headlines Today (English), Tez (Hindi), and Dilli Aaj Tak (Hindi) news channel. Only Headlines Today relayed accessible feed. Aaj Tak boasts of ‘सबसे तेज़’ and best news channel for 13 successive years faltered miserably. Similarly, Aajjtak Tez and Dilli Aajtak did not relayed accessible feed.

NDTV rose to the occasion with both NDTV India (Hindi) and NDTV 24x7 (English) relaying accessible feed. The later rightly has an apt slogan-Fight for change, You’ve got a friend.

Times Now, the first news channel in India to be launched on mobile screens has a slogan-Always with the news. They were rightly with the disabled community as they relayed feed from DD News rather DD National.

Samay was another winner who relayed continuous coverage with sign-language. 

There were some who corrected their mistake in time and switched to feed from DD News after initially covering DD National’s inaccessible feed. IBN7 was launched on Independence Day 2006 with tag lines खबर हर कीमत पर- बेबाक, बेख़ौफ़ . CNN IBN’s tag line is- whatever it takes. Both of these channel partnered yesterday in a disability campaign ‘Veer’. 24 hours were still not over when these two relayed inaccessible feed. However, they quickly, changed the feed to DD News in the afternoon. News X (News without noise) and News 24 frequently switched between accessible and inaccessible feed for reasons beat known to them.

Zee news failed to be on the side of disabled viewers. Others who ignored disabled were ABP News (आप को रखें आगे), India News (देश की धड़कन ), India TV (Voice of public- आप की आवाज), News Nation, and Channel One.

Earlier, the Disabled Rights Group convenor, Javed Abidi met with the officials of the Defence Ministry, the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. He said: “In our earlier meeting with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, she instantly agreed to the DRG’s demand and even spoke to Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari about it. He directed the Ministry Secretary to follow our proposal. Even Defence Minister A.K. Antony agreed to our demand. But in today’s meeting the babus tried to hide behind technicalities. Actually, they lack the will to implement this. One official even went to the extent of saying that they cannot spoil the Republic Day Parade telecast on television because of one per cent of population (disabled).”

Stating in 'The Hindu' that India is home to over 18 million deaf people, Mr. Abidi said when the government of the country ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), it made a promise to the world that it would ensure that deaf people are treated equally and enjoy the same rights as other Indian citizens.

Today, on India’s 65th Republic Day, I pay floral wreath on Government’s inability to protect the rights of people with hearing impairment. I salute DD News, NDTV group, Times NOW, Headlines Today, and Samay for giving continuous live feed of accessible telecast. Other TV channels are requested to shy away from fancy taglines and act on ground zero.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mobile app by Cross the Hurdles for people with disability

Empowering people with disabilities calls for a broad range of socio-economic inclusions and the Indian government is currently amending the Disability Act of 1995 to meet the norms of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The country has an estimated 40-45 million such people according to provisional figures of 2011 Census, but spends only 0.0009% of its GDP on disability, which indicates low access to education, information, job market and other essential facilities.

Since easy access to critical and specific information can immensely help people with disabilities, a Delhi-based NGO called Cross the Hurdles has launched the first-ever android app a couple of days ago to bridge the knowledge gap. Named after the organisation, the new app is an information resource containing everything one needs to know about special education, career guidance, employment opportunities, tax benefits, health tips, legal advice, assistive technology, accessibility and more. Simply put, you can find all relevant information here - be it schools for autistic children, libraries for the visually impaired, shops for buying disability aids & equipment or blood banks in your locality. The app can be downloaded for free from Google Play Store and the organisation will soon launch the iOS and Windows versions of the app.

In the next phase, there will be a number of in-app features including video conferencing, on-demand sessions with experts, disability counselling services and chat forums. The app will be always free for users although the NGO, led by Abha Khetarpal, is looking to raise money through sponsorship and advertising. To download Cross the Hurdles, you will require Android 2.3.3 or up.

Source:Business Insider

Friday, January 10, 2014

Online Disability Advocacy through Media training course

Beth Heller has developed an online training course about disability advocacy using media that is open source so advocates around the globe can use it.

This online course will introduce advocates to how to use traditional and online media advocacy techniques to build awareness of disability issues. It will cover the use of social media, videos, websites and blogs for disability advocacy. It includes e-lectures, self-teaching assignments, and all-online readings and other resources.

The list of lessons in the course:

Unit 1: What has happened to traditional news media in the USA?
Unit 2: What was traditional news media advocacy for disability advocates? Part 1
Unit 3: What was traditional news media advocacy for disability advocates? Part 2
Unit 4: The intersection of old/new media in advocacy
Unit 5: Public Service Announcements/Video News Releases
Unit 6: Activism of all kinds reinvigorated by social media
Unit 7: Why disability activists should use social media
Unit 8: Facebook
Unit 9: Twitter
Unit 10: Vlogs & video
Unit 11: Blogging
Unit 12: A word about accessibility

The course can be accesses at this URL: