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Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Nirmala crowned Miss Wheelchair India beauty 

Source : India Today , 26th Nov 2013

Nirmala, center, is crowned Miss Wheelchair India beauty at the final of the contest in Mumbai, India.

Nishtha Thakera, on wheelchair, speaks to her friend at backstage during the Miss Wheelchair India beauty contest in Mumbai, India.

An artist applies makeup on a participant Gulista before she takes part in Miss Wheelchair India beauty contest in Mumbai, India. 

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    Miss Wheelchair India 2013
    Source : TOI , 25th Nov 2013

43 year old Nirmala Kelwani (center) smiles after winning Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013. A total of 16 women from all across the India participated in the contest. The organisers hope the pageant will open doors for differently-abled women in the fields of modeling, film, and television. 

A competitor gets ready backstage during Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013. 

A competitor gets her makeup done backstage during Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013. 

A competitor pulls her wheelchair as she gets her makeup done backstage during Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013. 

A competitor speaks to her niece as she waits to get her makeup done backstage during Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013. 

A competitor watches a performance from backstage during Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013. 

A competitor is given instructions by an organiser backstage during Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013. 

Competitors strike a conversation backstage as they wait to get their makeup done backstage, during Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013.

A friend embraces a competitor waiting to get her makeup done backstage during Miss Wheelchair India, the country's first wheelchair beauty pageant, in Mumbai on November 24, 2013.


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Monday, 25 November 2013

An Army of the Deaf Watch Surveillance Cameras in Mexico

Security camera footage makes some pretty boring TV. There's no sound, so you don't know what people are saying, and it's tough to read body language out of context. But that's exactly what makes deaf people the perfect workforce for interpreting the footage.

In Oaxaca, Mexico, they're called "Angels of Silence." The capital city in the eponymous state is now in the second year of a program that employs 20 deaf police officers to monitor 230 surveillance cameras set up around town. Because they can read lips, the deaf officers are better able to understand conversations happening on camera, and their heightened visual awareness means they can spot trouble brewing on the screen more quickly. So far, they've helped assisted in countless confrontations and traffic accidents, and they've even helped solve one murder case.

There's an added bonus to the deaf officer program. Most of those currently working on the force were unemployed before and had a hard time finding a job due to their disability. In fact, the city plans to expand the program in the near future as they simultaneously boost the number of cameras to 400. The center where the officers are based is also hooked into Oaxaca's State Emergency Center, which shares data across several government agencies.


The head of the city's Public Safety Department recently told the Associated Press that they'd been contacted by officials from the United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates had contacted the city wanting to learn more about the program. And why wouldn't they? It makes perfect sense, and everybody wins. Except the criminals, of course.

Source :  Gizmodo India , 23rd November 2013

International Law: Mightier than the words

Countries that ratify human-rights accords often delete bits they dislike


The younger George Bush, a Republican, negotiated the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But when it came before the American Senate last year 38 Republicans blocked it. Now the treaty is up for consideration again; its prospects are uncertain. If it passes, it will only be with "reservations": clauses that qualify how the treaty will impinge on American law. Like other human-rights treaties that America has ratified, it will be "non-self-executing", meaning that separate laws are needed to give it effect. Conservative waverers may demand more sops, such as protection for parents who teach their disabled children at home.

America is not the only country that says "Yes, but" to treaties. A third of the countries that ratified UN conventions on the rights of women, children and racial minorities carved out areas where the treaties would not apply, according to a study by Beth Simmons, a scholar of international affairs at Harvard University. In 2002 more than half the 147 adopters of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had caveats. The UN considers 36 treaties to be "close to universal" (meaning that more than 80% of countries have ratified them); in more than half the cases some ratifiers reserve the right not to apply them in full.

In theory, reservations are allowed only if they are compatible with the treaty's objective. Often they are not. Saudi Arabia supposedly pledged to end "all forms of discrimination against women", but whittled that down to merely some forms. It was one of several Muslim nations that joined the treaty saying that anything that contradicted sharia law would not apply. The freedom of Saudi women to travel, open a bank account and choose a husband is thus still curtailed.

There is a case for à la carte accession to human-rights treaties. Merely signing up to one puts those rights up for discussion and raises expectations, says Ms Simmons. As domestic laws and social norms evolve, some countries then drop their reservations. Kuwait, for example, adopted the women's-rights convention in 1994 without letting women vote or run for office. In 2005 the emirate gave them full political rights. America ratified the political-rights convention in 1992 with the stipulation that people under 18 could still be executed. The Supreme Court has since ruled that such executions are unconstitutional. 

Source : The Indian Express , 25th Nov 2013 

Junoon: Not disabled, but differently-abled : KARACHI


The play is worth watching for its efforts to mobilise society towards caring for the physically challenged.


Our negligence towards the underprivileged communities in this country borders on the criminal. While greater attention — but by no means enough — has been given to persecuted religious minorities, the poorer class’ restriction of movement as a result of hefty entrance fees to public parks and recreational areas makes it even more difficult to call this city one’s own. The more obvious and shameful restriction to a freedom of movement however, has been towards the physically challenged. Cinemas and restaurants aside, public institutions like buses, schools, courts and even hospitals are inaccessible to people on wheelchairs and crutches. Inarguably, more needs to be done to facilitate the physically challenged, and more people need to be made aware.


It is for this reason alone that Junoon, a play by Show You Care (SYC) an NGO that advocates for broader wheelchair accessibility in public buildings, is worth watching. It is a valiant, innovative and necessary effort to mobilise society towards caring for the physically challenged. Keeping this in mind, one also has a moral obligation to go see this play, not simply an aesthetic one.

The play is worth watching for its efforts to mobilise society towards caring for the physically challenged.

The plot is straightforward — an ambitious, talented dancer Annie (Shameen Khan) has her life altered after an accident which puts her in a wheelchair permanently. Initially, the plot stalls and meanders unnecessarily until Annie has her accident in an anti-climactic scene. Rather than feel shock or concern, one can only breathe a sigh of relief at the accident, knowing that now the plot would finally move forward.

Distraught and disillusioned, Annie becomes a recluse until a budding friendship with another physically challenged woman, realistically wheelchair-bound producer Farhat Rasheed, inspires her to dream again.

Amateur voice projection and futile attempts at slapstick comedy are misplaced because they distract the audience from the theme in question. The same applies to the status of the play as a ‘musical.’ An assumption on the part of the director that the sobering realisation that the physically challenged have not been granted their rights isn’t enough to keep the audience in their seats (it is), but instead, some Bollywood masala might do the trick (it doesn’t), the audience is subjected to breaks between hard-to-hear dialogues by dance numbers that don’t have anything to do with the play.

The play, and everything about it, does pick up after the accident. Once the distractions of the banter are taken away the acting gets better, and so does the script. Farhat’s own appearance is quite moving, and despite its faults, the play and what it stands for does shine through in the end.

Anwar Maqsood, a special guest and patron of the play, said as much when he recommended that Annie ought to have broken her leg during the first dance number. As the theme of the play is powerful enough, the speeches and videos shown before and after the play seem excessive. To its credit, SYC employed subtle ways to highlight its cause — rather than the usual host of VIPs, the reserved seats were occupied by physically challenged people and their families.

The play is worth watching for its efforts to mobilise society towards caring for the physically challenged.
The aesthetic has (unnecessarily) been sacrificed for the moral, but the moral is important enough to make this play a worthwhile watch. Directed by Anjum Ayaz, Junoon is playing at the Arts Council every day at 8pm until November 25.

Source : The Express Tribune , 24th Nov 2013

Last pulse polio drive of 2013 today : KANPUR ( U.P )

The last pulse polio drive of the year 2013 for children under the age of five years will be organized at 2,144 polio booths in the city today. The pulse polio campaign will continue for five more days in the form of door-to-door drives for the dropout kids. The kids will be administered BOPV vaccines and the disposal of the vaccines will be done strictly in accordance with 1.33 scales.

Due to the strike of state government employees, the health authorities decided to shift the pulse polio drive scheduled on November 24, to December 08, 2013. However, after the employees called-off their strike on Friday, the health authorities again declared the polio drive to commence on pre-scheduled date.
As per the district health department, the target this time is to cover nearly 6.70 children under the age of five years in the pulse polio drive. After the first booth day on Sunday, the door-to-door polio drive will continue from November 25 to 29. Children will be administered polio drops from 8am to 4pm. Apart from the schools in localities, polio booths will also be set-up at bus-stop, railway station, and other public places as well.

According to the health department officials, the polio vaccine should be given to all children including those who have already been given the initial dose. Immunization Officer, Dr Rajiv informed that this time the pulse polio immunisation campaign is under strict vigil by the government. This is the reason why the last day of the programme will be dedicated to back-up activity so that no child is left to be administered polio drops.

The official also said out of all the booths, nearly 400 have been categorized as high risk zones to be monitored strictly since they are located in slum areas. Banners urging all to administer polio drops have also been put up to create mass awareness in different parts of the city. Besides, the health staff and primary school teachers have also been urged to volunteer for the programme.

Chief medical officer of the district, Dr RP Yadav informed that there were total of 83 transit teams constituted for the pulse polio mission. Whereas, 65 mobile teams were also a part in this mission. He added that as many as 1,622 door-to-door members are also a part of this noble initiative.
Source : TOI , 24th Nov 2013 

Mobile intervention units for mentally challenged kids : CHENNAI

Picture for representational purpose only.

               Picture for representational purpose only. 

“The state will soon have 32 mobile intervention units to help mentally disabled children,” said V. K. Jayakodi, State Commissioner for the Differently Abled, on Saturday.

“The government is in the process of procuring the vehicles, the move will help benefit people in the rural pockets of the state. So far the units have been available in the district headquarters, but the new scheme will help reach many children affected by aut­ism, Do­wn’s syndrome and other mental disorders,” the com­missioner said, addr­essing the valedictory fu­nc­tion of a three-day se­m­inar on exceptional ch­ildren, organised by the Madhuram Nara­ya­nan Centre for Exceptional Children. The centre, which trains around 120 children currently, focuses on children aged between 0-6 years.

“Much awareness is needed to be created among people about such disorders and early intervention after detecting the problems is also required,” Jayakodi said, adding that the screening of new-born babies for mental illness was essential. 

“Tamil Nadu is leading the cou­nt­ry in interventional ed­uc­ation and the government provides Rs1,000 to me­ntally ill kids every month while it also helps th­em with other su­b­sid­ies. The people must al­­so start giving em­pl­o­y­m­e­nt opportunities to me­ntally ill people and he­lp them come up in life,” the commissioner added.
“We request the government to make the interventional programmes more accessible and affo­rd­able,” said P. Jaya­ch­andiran, psychologist and special educationalist at the Madhuram Na­ra­y­anan Trust.
Source : Deccan Chronicle , 24th Nov 2013 

Sports meet for the differently abled : Tirunelveli ( T.N )

The District Differently Abled Welfare Office, in association with the Indian Red Cross Society, organised a district-level sports meet for the physically challenged at Florence Swainson Higher Secondary School for the Deaf here on Friday.

Three hundred and fifty five differently-abled students from 19 schools in the district participated in the event, inaugurated by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Tirunelveli City, M. Rajarajan in the presence of chairman, Indian Red Cross Society D.A. Prabakar and District Differently Abled Welfare Officer Ramakrishnan.

The participants, categorised into junior, senior and super senior sections, showcased their talents in as many as 30 events. While those who bagged the first three spots were honoured with prizes, all the participants were given consolation prizes.

Those who won the first place in each event will represent the district in the State-level meet to be held at Chennai in the first week of December.

Source : The Hindu , 24th November 2013

Saturday, 23 November 2013


SOURCE : THE HINDU , 23rd Nov 2013 

Doctor with disability alleges discrimination by UPSC

Distressed at not being allowed to apply for the post of Assistant Professor of Physiology advertised by the Union Public Service Commission, Dr. Satendra Singh, a polio survivor and Assistant Professor of Physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Delhi, has appealed for help.

After an article published in The Hindu earlier this week, Dr. Singh was called for an interview. “Having being rejected twice by the UPSC to apply for the post of Assistant Professor of Physiology when I finally got a call from them I was happy. On Tuesday (November 12) afternoon I received a fax from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare directing UPSC to accept my candidature,” said Dr. Singh. But he claims that his happiness was short lived.

“I got to know that the Commission had allowed only me (as a person with disability) to participate in the interview,” said Dr. Singh.

Accusing the Commission of being discriminatory against persons with disability, he said: “By calling only me for the interview the Commission is snatching away the chances of other doctors who are good only because they are persons with disability. Both the advertisements had posts where disabled doctors cannot apply. Why shouldn’t the Commission be directed to allow all eligible candidates to participate in the interview?”

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’ where disabled candidates have to post photograph showing their disability.

Source : The Hindu , 16th Nov 2013 


SOURCE : THE HINDU , 24th Nov 2013

BEYOND RESERVATIONS : Employment for People With Disabilities - By Javed Abidi and Dorodi Sharma

Source : Employment News , 23rd November 2013

Creating avenues for the differently-abled : CHENNAI

The United States is trying to encourage the participation of persons with disabilities in international exchange programmes, said the U S Consul General, Jennifer McIntyre.

 She was speaking at the inauguration of the 4th international conference and 10th national workshop of the Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children in Chennai recently.

Equality and inclusion of persons with disabilities is a US foreign policy priority, she said. The United States bureau of Cultural Affairs (ECA) recently sent an envoy to Guangzhou in China to promote inclusion in sports especially for women and girls. She narrated how the US government had been trying to do the same through other programmes too, wherein recently a young woman from Pakistan, who was born with no hands and no legs below the knees, was able to participate in the US Department sponsored YES high school programme.

The United States and India have been able to provide links between educational institutions and also researchers in studies on mental illnesses from both countries through the recent Obama- Singh Knowledge Initiative and the several grants provided through the private sector.

The countries have been trying to promote the interests of disabled people and help them achieve their potential. Both India and the US are signatories to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which among other articles, calls for governments to take all measures to protect and promote the interests of the children with disabilities, she said.

By capitalising on both big and small opportunities to work together, we can make a huge impact on the quality of life of differently-abled people and their ability to realise their full potential, she pointed out. Apart from the governments and public sector, the private sector, academia and the broader civil society must come forward to support the cause for inclusion of persons with disability, she added.

 Jaya Krishnamurthy of the Madhuram Narayanan Centre said that in spite of numerous awareness programmes, efforts by NGOs, institutions and government support, there was still a long way to go for the society to accept differently-abled persons.

P Shivasankar, Secretary, Department of Welfare of Differently Abled Persons listed out the State Government’s efforts in early intervention for children at the district level centres.

Source : The New Indian Express, 23rd Nov 2013

Badals splurge as 20 lakh pensioners in Punjab denied pension claims

More than 20 lakh pensioners in Punjab have not got their claims for about four months. They include the elderly, widows, the physically challenged as well as dependents. The state, under several schemes, is supposed to provide support for them, the most vulnerable. But state government officials say that there is simply no money to pay the pension, since the state coffers are running almost empty.

Yet, Parkash Singh Badal government has instead of cutting back, added to the financial burden by giving all ministers and legislators a salary hike between 66 and 100 per cent. Not just that, it is also spending big bucks on luxury car and aircraft. The government has called fresh tenders to buy a Mercedes L500 V8 vehicle for the chief minister, which will cost about Rs.7 crore. The cash-strapped government has already purchased two choppers for the chief minister and deputy chief minister by spending Rs108 crore earlier this year (Rs.38 crore spent on buying Bell 429 aircraft and Rs.70 crore on a fixed wing aircraft).

In comparison, at an average of Rs.250 given to every pensioners, the state's pension bill is Rs.135 crore a month. But, sources in the government says, the administration has to yet release Rs.450 crore, running a three-month deficit.

There are 20.08 lakh pensioners in the state, out of which 14.4 lakh are old-age pensioners, 2.9 lakh widows, 1.24 lakh dependents and 1.47 lakh are the physically challenged. Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts have the largest number of pensioners (1.41 lakh).

The opposition Congress accuses the state government of ignoring the needy. It also said that politics was being played over pensions, claiming that the claimants in the chief minister's own constituency, as well as those of his son (deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal) and his member of Parliament wife Harsimrat Kaur were being given their monthly dues. According to the sources, pensions have not been released by the government in many districts since August but in July too, pensions were reportedly given only in these select areas: Faridkot, Ferozepur, Mansa, Bhatinda and Muktsar. Some 1.4 lakh beneficiaries in Fazilka also got paid in September; that happens to be part of the state's health and family welfare minister Surjit Singh Jyani's constituency.

"The SAD-BJP government is discriminating with the constituencies of the Congress party. In Kapurthala district no pension has been released since March. The Badals always give priority to Mukatsar and Bhatinda districts and spend maximum amount of funds in these districts," said Sukhpal Singh Khaira, spokesperson, Punjab Congress.

Social Security, Women and Child Development department officials said pensions will be released as and when the budget is released. Jyani, however, claimed that the process to release pensions was on. "The process to release the pensions is on. There is no paucity of funds. All pensioners will get their pensions soon," he told Mail Today.

Source : India Today , 17th Nov 2013

Drive to identify physically challenged : Rajahmundry (A.P )

The authorities of DRDA have taken up a special drive for identification of physically challenged (differently abled) persons in East Godavari.

Picture for representational purpose only.

                          Picture is for Representation  only 


As part of the programme, special teams were formed for their identification in the ongoing 
Rachchabanda programmes in the district in all 58 mandals, seven municipalities, three municipal panchayats and in Rajahmundry and Kakinada corporations.

Under this programme, the authorities will collect the applications from these sections at each of the venues and divide them area and mandal wise in order to conduct scrutiny and to decide the percentage of disability five more camps will be set up across the district.

These are in addition to the two permanent centres at RaJahmundry and Kakinada which issue certificates on every Friday.

In this process for the first time those having disability from 20 to 40 per cent will also be issued certificates after testing their eligibility by a team of doctors entrusted with the duty.

Those identified in this category will be paid Rs 200 as monthly pension from the new year.

Source : Deccan Chronicle , 17th Nov 2013

Poor facilities for disabled women raised at meeting : CHENNAI

Parliamentary standing committee receives complaints on inadequate accessibility, safety and amenities


Among the grievances expressed by the public during the meeting organised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways on Saturday was the inadequate accessibility and amenities for physically-challenged women.

Nandi Yellaiah, one of the members of the standing committee, said several complaints regarding inadequate safety for women commuters were brought to their notice at the meeting.

The committee would submit the suggestions received to the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, he said.

P. Simmachandran, general secretary, Federation of Tamil Nadu Differently-Abled Associations, said in many suburban railway stations, the platforms were paved with tiles. People using crutches find it difficult to alight from the coaches as these tiles were slippery, leading to injuries, he said. Also, ramps were not available in all the suburban railway stations.

Amba Salelkar of Inclusive Planet, Centre for Disability, Law and Policy, who participated in the meeting, said women with disabilities faced several problems in railway stations, right from accessibility to safety. The problems were amplified at the MRTS stations on the Beach–Velachery section, she said.

In addition to the poor accessibility, the lack of security at the MRTS stations led to women with disabilities hesitating to take the trains. They also had to contend with men misbehaving under the pretext of helping them. Several such incidents had been brought to her notice, she said.

There is no real mechanism for women to register complaints against harassment, she added.

Source : The Hindu , 17th Nov 2013

'Make healthcare affordable for disabled' : Bangalore

There are over one crore visually impaired, ten lakh with hearing and over ten lakh with speech disabilities, according to MLC Ramachandre Gowda.


Speaking at the inauguration of a new district disability rehabilitation centre of the hospital, he said, he would provide Rs two lakh from his MLC fund towards the welfare of the physically challenged. Home Minister K J George inaugurated the Centre.

CMC Bangalore Baptist Hospital (BBH) Director Dr Sunil Chandy said physically disabled faced challenges as the number of hospitals catering to their special needs were few and usually far off. Most cannot afford the treatment. BBH has been vested with the responsibility of establishing District Disability Rehabilitation Centres by the State government to provide help for disabled at affordable prices.

Pointing out that there were several posts lying vacant at government hospitals, Devanahalli MLA Pilla Munishamappa said the area did not have a dedicated police station nor fire station and urged the Home Minister to look into the matter.

Source :  Deccan Herald  , 16th Nov 2013

Regional Abilympics kicks off at Blind People's Association : AHMEDABAD

The final rounds of Regional Abilympics have been organized by Blind People's Association at its campus where 360 persons from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa have participated in a number of events. The three-day event was inaugurated on Thursday by state governor Dr Shrimati Kamla. In her speech, she stressed the fact that People with Disabilities have the same rights as non disabled people and should be accepted and mainstreamed to the extent possible.

Thursday saw the participants engaging in singing, dancing and acting competitions. An exhibition was also held for the products made by participants on day one.

Satish Inamdar, president of the National Abilympics Association of India (NAAI) said that the Regional Abilympics should be accepted by the Government as a matter of regular programmes and should be funded in future to make them truly sustainable. He said that the winners of this event would go on to participate in National and International events and make the country proud.

The various skill competitions include artificial limb making, dress making, wood carving, photography, basket making, crochet making, English text processing, webpage designing and CAD architectural designs.

Source : TOI , 23rd Nov 2013

C.M Chang flags off ‘Badhte Kadam’ : KOHIMA

School education minister C.M Chang officially flagged off ‘Badhte Kadam IV 2013’ - National Awareness campaign on rights of people with disabilities - at State Academy Hall here Tuesday.

Speaking at the flag off programme, the minister called upon the citizens to give more importance to the groups of People with Disability (PWD) and also urged the responsible authority to judiciously use the funds sanctioned for the PWD.

Stating that people who were more physically fit go through more difficult times, C.M Chang said one should not judge people by the outward appearance.

He assured that necessary requirement from the government side would be looked into. Speaking on the theme ‘issue of violence and sexual harassment of people with disabilities’, Naga Mothers Association (NMA) president Abeiü Meru said violence and abuse were serious global problems faced by persons with or without disabilities.

According to Meru, NMA felt great pain to observe the upsurge in vicious violence and sexual harassment on physically challenged persons.

As mothers, she said NMA greatly disturbed and condemn any form of violence that denigrated human dignity as no human life was expandable and that no form of violence was justified at any point of time.

She reminded that it was everyone’s responsibility to uphold and protect the rights of people with disabilities.

NMA president also lauded the four athletes who would be representing Special Olympics Nagaland (SON) at Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games to be held in Sydney, Australia from December 1-7.

State commissioner for disability Dr. Atha Vizol, in his address, said change in attitude towards disability was absolutely essential.

He added that these changes should start by acknowledging that human differences and everyone’s dignity must be respected.

He also assured that law enforcing agencies would not tolerate the criminal act on the differently-abled.

Advocate, legal issues on disability Arepla Chang delivered on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012.

Arepla also spoke right to life, liberty and justice, education, skill development and employment, social security provisions for persons with benchmark disabilities, special provisions for persons with disabilities with high support needs, registration of institutions for PWDs and grants to such institutions etc.

Joint director social welfare, N. Nyuthe and NSF general secretary Easter Rakho also spoke on the occasion while Marlong Longkumer delivered brief history of NAPAD.

Students of G. Rio School presented special number on the occasion. The programme was organized by NAPAD.

Source : Nagaland Post , 19th Nov 2013 

Comprehensive survey on PWD launched : LAMKA

The Centre for Community Initiative (CCI) in partnership with Christian Blind Mission (CBM) has today formally launched a comprehensive survey on persons with disabilities within the district in their attempt to fully understand them, their numbers and condition.

Projected to be completed within two years, the survey according to its sponsors will enter every village within the district of Churachandpur to collect the number of persons with disabilities and interact with them to understand their socio-economic condition.

Two Research Assistants have been engaged to conduct the survey for which necessary training has already been imparted as well for the past couple of weeks, it said.

The survey labelled 'Churachandpur district socio-economic survey on persons with disabilities' was formally launched by Churachandpur SP, LM Haokip at Centre for Community Initiative (CCI) conference room here.

The survey team will head for the interior areas of Singngat and Thanlon subdivisions tomorrow.

Churachandpur has till date no proper data on persons with disabilities.

The CCI has expected to change that trend while also expecting that the final data generated by the survey will definitely fetch favourable opportunities for them.

Meanwhile, the CCI which has run The Malsawm Initiative (TMI) - a school for children with special needs, has announced that the United Nations will soon be sending four (4) UN volunteers to help them run the school.

Once the volunteers; a special educator, speech therapist, physiotherapist and a school administrator arrive here, the school has planned to double its intake with two shifts a day.

The UN volunteers will also train teachers of TMI during their stint with them, said a statement issued by CCI.

Source : E-Pao , 18th Nov 2013

Bali Yatra: People with disabilities win hearts : CUTTACK

The initiative of the district administration to empower people with disabiltites has yielded desired results. A special pavilion at Bali Yatra, showcasing products of 30 SHGs run by them, has become a hit with the visitors.

The products include paintings, candles, agarbatti, dresses, embroidered bags, pattachitra, soft toys and applique work. The pavilion has sold products worth Rs 2.63 lakh in the last three days, official sources said.
"It was a conscious attempt on the part of the administration to allow some space to the differently-abled at Bali Yatra. The response has been overwhelming. They have surpassed last year's earning of Rs 2 lakh in the first three days of the fair," said Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS), Cuttack, Bipin Rout.

The SHGs are making the most of the opportunity. "We have engaged 30 disabled women for making agarbatti and candles. Bali Yatra has helped us to market and sell our products," said Satyabhama Sahoo of Hatidih in Keonjhar.

With their art works winning praises, the artists are only too happy to have got a level playing ground to compete with others in the field.

Source : TOI , 22nd Nov 2013

Bid to empower disabled through employment : LUCKNOW

People with disability in the state are deprived of the benefits given through the National Disability Finance Development Corporation due to lack of initiative on the part of government agencies. This came to the fore at an awareness programme for promotion of livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities held here on Wednesday. The programme was organized by Leonard Cheshire Disability Trust.

Speaking on the occasion, national placement coordinator Shijo Joseph said NDFDC was an effective platform to help persons with disability lead a self-reliant life. But many states including Uttar Pradesh were not able to exploit the opportunity well. He stressed the need to make them employable and confident to face the world and get over the feeling of dependence on family members.

NDFDC provides a loan of up to Rs 5 lakh to people with disability through government agencies and banks to start an occupation. In Uttar Pradesh, instead of disabled welfare department, which is officially responsible for all affairs related to the disabled, UP Finance Corporation is the lead agency. Yet, few are aware of the agency as different stake holders shirk from their bit of responsibility. While the disabled welfare department puts the blame on UP Finance Corporation, the corporation passes the buck on banks.

As a result of confusion, the grant that comes to help people with disability has lapsed. In the 2012-13 financial year for instance, Rs 2,260.58 lakh was disbursed of which Rs 2,219.31 could be spent. Smaller states are doing much better. Tamil Nadu, which is half the size of UP, drew double the money. Also, with lesser grant, some states are able to do much better than UP. Andhra Pradesh is a case in point. With a sanctioned amount of Rs 1,423.27 lakh, Andhra Pradesh has more than 4,600 beneficiaries.

Amitabh Mehrotra, founder and chairperson of SPARC-India, who has been working to provide livelihood to persons with disability shared how employment can empower them.
Source : TOI , 21st Nov 2013 

Panel stays Utkal hiring move : Bhubaneshwar

The State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD), a quasi judicial body, has stayed the recruitment process of faculty members in Utkal University for ignoring reservation norms for physically challenged people. The university had advertised for 50 posts of teachers in June in one of the largest recruitment drives in recent years and had started scrutiny of the applicants recently.

The SCPD order came on November 15, while hearing a petition of Sannyash Behera, a visually challenged person and coordinator of NGO Odisha Disabled People's Network, that the institution did not follow the provisions in the Person with Disabilities (equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, under which three per cent of vacancies in government jobs are reserved for the special category.

"In case the recruitment process continues and reaches its finality, there shall be deprivation of rights of the persons with disabilities," commissioner Kasturi Mohapatra wrote in her order.

The SCPD had asked the university on July 30 to issue a corrigendum to its advertisement spelling out vacancies reserved for the disabled. Citing that the university had not implemented SCPD's said order, Mohapatra said, "It is found appropriate that the recruitment process be stayed to safeguard the interest of the persons with disabilities until compliance of the July 30 order."

The SCPD observed that the university had not complied with its direction despite three reminders. Registrar Banani Mohanty conveyed to the commission on October 30 that the syndicate, the apex decision-making body of the varsity, would take up the SCPD's earlier order on November 4.

However, there was no further communication thereafter. The complainance on the other hand alleged that scrutiny of the applications had started without compliance of the commission direction.

The university in its advertisement had mentioned that eight of the 50 posts are reserved for persons with disabilities without being specific about which posts.

"The advertisement is for 50 posts in over 20 different disciplines and at three levels of professor, reader and lecturer. Unless a disabled person knows which post is reserved for them, how they can apply?" said petitioner Behera.

Vice-chancellor P K Sahoo said the varsity is examining the commissioner's order. "We will take the most appropriate decision according to the rules," he said. Registrar Banani Mohanty declined to comment.

Source : TOI , 19th Nov 2013

Provide writers for disabled students: Delhi HC to ICAI

The Delhi High Court Monday directed the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to prepare a panel of writers to assist disabled students in appearing for the chartered accountancy examinations that it conducts.

The court has asked that the panel be constituted within six months.

Justice V.K. Jain said that for preparing the panel of scribes to assist disabled students, the institute should either itself empanel appropriate people to function as scribes, or engage the panel prepared by other universities such as Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University. Both these universities maintain a panel of scribes to assist students with disability, especially those visually impaired, in taking examinations.

The court's order came on a PIL filed by a visually impaired chartered accountant student Reena Bhatia, who sought a direction to the institute to prepare a panel of competent scribes who could assist disabled students in taking examinations.

The ICAI had told the court that it has not maintained its own panel of scribes as it had no campus of its own and conducted examinations at as many as 377 centres spread over 96 cities across the country, as well as in four cities abroad.

On this, the court directed ICAI to prepare a panel of scribes to assist differently abled people at least in the "major cities where examinations are held by it".

"The respondent no.1 (ICAI) shall prepare, at least in major cities, its own panel of scribes/writers, to be provided to the differently abled persons on receipt of a written request from them. For this purpose, ICAI may either itself empanel appropriate persons to function as scribes/writers or it may adopt the panel of scribes/writers, if any, prepared by other universities/institutions," the court said in its order.

It further added that the candidates will have to arrange their own scribes at places where ICAI was not able to prepare a panel of scribes.

The court also said that ICAI will pay the fee of the scribes, whether the writer is arranged by the candidate or by the university.

"The ICAI shall prepare, within three months, a schedule of charges to be paid to the scribes/writers who assist differently abled persons in the examination conducted by it and it shall pay to the scribes/writers from the panel or reimburse the candidates, wherever candidates are permitted to engage their own writers/scribes, as per the rates approved by the ICAI in this regard," the order stated. 

Source : Business Standard , 18th Nov 2013 

From pillar to post, on a wheelchair : BANGALORE

Wheelchair-bound man caught in red tape, seekig reimbursement for work his BPO did.

MH Manjunatha (left) gives tips to employees working at Amruta Info Technology Rural BPO at  Motagondanahalli near Nelamangala.
MH Manjunatha (left) gives tips to employees working at Amruta Info Technology Rural BPO at Motagondanahalli near Nelamangala.


On many days, MH Manjunatha boards a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus at 4.30 am to reach Bangalore.

Physically disabled, he has lost use of his legs following an accident, he is helped by the staff of the bus, who also help to get his wheelchair into the vehicle.

Once he reaches Bangalore, Manjunatha, who despite his disability, operates a rural BPO at Motagondanahalli near Nelamangala on the outskirts of Bangalore, he uses his wheelchair to go over to the offices of the deputy commissioner for Bangalore Rural district, to get reimbursed for the work his rural BPO did for the government before the assembly elections in May.

Manjunatha’s Amrutha Info Technology, which employs around 70 youths, most of them giQrls from nearby villages, verified documents for preparing voter identification cards.

The tahsildar of Nelamangala then, Anil Kumar, gave Manjunatha’s BPO the work of verifying documents for preparing voter IDs, but the catch is that there was no work order. Manjunatha took up the work on a oral instruction from the tahsildar, who has now been transferred to Kodagu. The BPO got half of the money for the work in advance. And now, with the tahsildar transferred, the revenue department is reluctant to pay the other half of the money, in the absence of the work order.

He approached Rajendra, Anil Kumar’s successor, but found him not helpful. When dna contacted Anil Kumar, he said that he had assigned verification of documents for the preparation of voter ID cards, and that he would help him to get reimbursed for his work.

Born in a family of poor farmers, Manjunatha completed his SSLC and completed the civil draughtsman’s course. But, while climbing a staircase, he felt a pain his right leg. Hospitals could not detect the problem, and he lost the use of right leg, and later of his left leg too.

Not losing hope, Manjunatha trained as a computer operator at Association of People with Disability (APD), NGO, at Lingarajapuram in Bangalore. He then opened Amruta Info Technology Rural BPO with financial help from a relative.

“I appeal to the authorities to clear the dues and allocate more work for our BPO for the benefit of girls who depend on it for their livelihood,” says Manjunatha, adding that he wants no sympathy, only more work for his BPO.

Source : DNA , 20th Nov 2013 

President launches book on visually disabled people


File Picture: Pranab Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee launched the coffee-table book titled "The Light Within" at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday evening. The book is a compilation of awe-evoking stories of the lives of visually impaired people narrated through a mix of vivid photographs and compelling text. The book has been compiled by a photojournalist, Sipra Das.


"I call upon all sections of society specially the younger generation in schools and technical institutions to look at experiences of the brave people featured in this book and be motivated to contribute innovative and technical solutions that can be applied to their daily lives", Mukherjee said.

Commending their indomitable spirit the President said, "The blind protagonists do not claim to see into the future, but they thread their way through the unseen world of creative exploration with cheerful audacity. They are almost immune to the affliction that blights them."

"The book is a gift to the mother of a disabled person and a message to the people of the society to not to lose hope in life," said photojournalist Sipra Das.

The author said that she stayed with visually-impaired people for several days to document their daily lives. She observed that the visually impaired can see with their hearts.

"They enthrall you with their wit, perspicacity, ability to see beyond the obvious. While working on this book these people have been an inspiration to me. To release this book I was running pillar to post and could not convince publishers as to why they should publish it. I took inspiration from the characters in the book to fight my way," Das said.

Each story in the book is filled with drama and aims at evoking awe and empathy instead of sympathy and pity among readers, according to publishers Niyogi Books.

Among the stories are those of 10-year-old Bitasta a deaf-mute and sightless girl who was found abandoned as an infant in a garbage dump in Kolkata, but today teaches children older than her the intricacies of yoga.

Another is about visually impaired Mumbai-based businessman Surendra Kambli who lost his hard-earned millions several times over only to recover them through grit and determination.

The story of Riyazuddin, a motorcycle mechanic in Bhopal, is endowed with mastery that borders on the miraculous.   

"Characters in the book open our eyes. They teach us to see life in a new light. They can perform the tasks that even the normal people find difficult to accomplish," said BJP leader L K Advani, who was present at the launch.

"We can make the visually challenged people even more comfortable and enhance their capabilities to participate in the different sectors of our socio-economic development," Mukherjee said.

Two visually impaired girls, Prachi and Pragya presented the first copy of the book to the President.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice of India, Justice Sathasivam drew the attention of the people to various judgments focusing on the facilities to be ensured for the differently-abled persons.

Das, said that she has distributed 2000 books to various schools, colleges "to spread the message of hope and inspiration to the nation."

Source : Jagran Post , 19th Nov 2013

Charge of the change brigade

Dr. K. Varghese with the children at Chaithanya, his home for mentally-challenged boys. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

Dr. K. Varghese with the children at Chaithanya, his home for mentally-challenged boys.


Kurian Varghese, founder director and manager of Toc-H institutions, also works extensively toward care, respect and freedom for the mentally challenged

A strange noise emanating from a house in Mulanthuruthy led Kurian Varghese, founder director and manager of Toc-H institutions, to peep through a window to see what the source was. The house was locked, there was nobody in sight. He was shocked by what he saw. “A young girl of about 15 years was lying in a bed in the dark room.” The girl was mentally-challenged and her family, fearing ridicule from society, had kept her locked up.

The memory of the young girl stayed with him. That incident, in 1975, turned out to be a catalyst that set him thinking about doing something for such children. The chance came in 1980 when he became a director of Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). When he suggested to the board of YMCA that a home for the mentally challenged be set up, he was told that there weren’t enough funds.

A matter of sanction

The following year he repeated his request and the board repeated their stance. “I, then, told them to leave the finances to me. I just wanted their sanction, which they eventually gave” says the octogenarian. A former president of the YMCA, Advocate Pathrose, donated an acre of land in Vadavucode, near Kolenchery, to set up the home. It was a small house with a few mentally-challenged children. This facility was called Chethas.

The next year, in 1982, Varghese took over as the president of Y’s Men. He was able to raise funds through donations to construct a hall and toilets. He also contributed the furniture. The home for the mentally-challenged was inaugurated by the Governor of Kerala in 1983.

It was a time when there was little or no awareness about mental retardation, but apart from the fund ‘problem’ there were no challenges, he says. “People were relieved that there was a place where the children could stay. I wanted these children to have freedom, rather than be locked up and hidden.”

The home for the mentally-challenged was shifted to Thrikkakara where the YMCA had four-and-a-half acres of land on which was located the YMCA Boys Home in 1992. The home, exclusively for mentally-challenged boys, was christened Chaithanya. Varghese has been the chairman of the institution since 1983.

However, the fund ‘problem’ did not end with building the home; money was required to run the establishment. “Due to the property’s proximity to the Model Engineering College, parents whose daughters were studying in the college wanted a hostel facility close to the college. It was decided to build a hostel there for girls.” Varghese raised Rs. 18 lakh for the hostel. Today, it boasts of full occupancy, and an extension of the hostel is being planned. The profits from the hostel go into the running of Chaithanya.

Making a mark

The residential facility today has around 25 students. The boys are provided basic vocational training.
He has tried to provide the freedom that he wanted the mentally retarded children to enjoy. As he is guided into the class by one of his assistants the entire class stands up and choruses, “Namaste.” As they pose for a photograph, Varghese wants the boys to stand closer. The room serves as a vocational training unit, library and leisure room.

Wanting to do something is one thing. But acting upon that wish and making sure it happens demands a strong resolve. These were times before corporate social responsibility became fashionable. “When I was living in Kolkata I had seen abject poverty. I saw the landless and homeless in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. I was driven by the suffering that I encountered.”

The YMCA Boys Home campus is getting ready for another of Varghese’ projects — an old age home. “It has become a necessity. There is no secure place for parents, what with children working outside the State or overseas.” The facility will be ready by January, he says. There will 22 units —self sufficient suites. The other facilities include a common canteen and a lift. There are plans to build more suites, “depending on the response.” 

Source : The Hindu , 21st November 2013 

9.72 lakh children targetted by pulse polio campaign : ALLAHBAD

Nearly 9.72 lakh children up to five years of age will be given vaccine under the pulse polio immunization campaign starting from November 24.

The chief development officer (CDO) asked the health department to take measures for the immunization programme to be carried out between November 24 and 29.

He said that 3,468 polio booths have been set up. There are 2,646 booths in rural and 822 in urban areas. Besides, 1,841 mobile teams have been formed. Around 10,000 immunization workers have been assigned duties for the campaign. The door-to-door polio drive will continue from November 25 to 29.

The officials have stressed on the need to promote the campaign through SMS and other mediums and create awareness among masses.

A total of 9,72,303 children up to five years of age would be administered polio drops during the campaign. The immunization officers or workers found absent at booths and training would face action. Explanation would be sought from them and if they failed to give proper reason, the salary would be deducted.

Mobile health teams have been advised to cover 100 houses per day.

Polio booths will be set up at bus-stops, railway stations, schools and other public places. Polio vaccine should be given to all children, including those who have got initial dose.

Source : TOI , 23rd November 2013

New technology to give voice to people with severe speech impairment

The first speech recognition aid to give a voice to people with severe speech impairment is the flagship technology on display today at the launch of the University of Sheffield’s new Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH).

The voice input voice output communication aid, VIVOCA, is the only technology able to interpret the sounds made by people with speech impairment and translate them into clear, synthesized speech – enabling users to communicate beyond their close family and friends for the first time.

Lead researcher on VIVOCA, Professor Mark Hawley is also Director of the new Centre for Assistive  Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH), which brings together the University’s established expertise across health research, engineering, psychology, computer science, architecture, and social science to develop new technologies to help people to live independently.

“What’s special about CATCH is that by integrating researchers from so many different fields, we are able to look at the whole picture – not simply the technical issues, but also how a technology can help improve or reduce the costs of healthcare and how it can respond to the needs of the people who will use it,” says Professor Hawley.

“VIVOCA is a good example of what can be achieved with this kind of collaborative research. As well as computer scientists – who develop the software – the project has involved healthcare professionals and industry to turn an idea into a product which is now ready for market.”

Also speaking at the CATCH launch today is Dr Geoff Fernie, Director of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, one of the most technologically advanced rehabilitation research centres in the world.

“VIVOCA is an example of an amazing invention that will change the lives of many people,” says Dr Fernie. “It’s also one of many advanced technologies being developed at CATCH that are offering possibilities for greater independence and happiness for all of us as we grow older and inevitably encounter challenges.”

Jon Toogood, who has cerebral palsy, is one of five patients in the Sheffield city region currently trialling the market-ready version of the technology.

“Not being understood can be degrading, as some people assume that my speech impediment means that I must have learning difficulties and treat me like a child,” he says. “As an intelligent adult this is both frustrating and annoying. VIVOCA helps me to communicate faster and more clearly when I need to and it’s helpful in noisy situations. It also will give me the confidence to talk to people I don’t know as sometimes I can’t be bothered to put myself in a situation where I know someone may not understand what I’m saying.”

Two other technologies developed at the University of Sheffield will also be showcased at the launch: NANA, a technology to help elderly people manage and improve their nutrition and SMART, which helps people with stroke and COPD manage their conditions and improve their quality of life.

CATCH will also house a new laboratory – called Home Lab – which mimics rooms in an ordinary house but which is fitted with cameras and other sensor equipment. The Home Lab will be used to test – in ‘real’ situations – how people use new technology or devices in the home, to help ensure they meet the best design and healthcare standards.

Source : News Medical , 19th November 2013