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Archive for August, 2009

The ears are not the only instrument of hearing of the soul. Every pore does. And this is brought home beautifully by deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie

Reminds me of this great quote by e.e.cummings:

“He who cares about the syntax of things, will never kiss you wholly’.

SM

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I came across two campaigns which have adopted creative ways to get people to contribute.

Donate-Eyes-for-Upload

Lifeline-Entry-Kit

Source: http://adsoftheworld.com

SJ

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The Lok Sabha, on 4th August 2009, passed the ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education’ Bill. Kapil Sibal, the HRD minister, promised that this Bill, a historic step, would be his signature reform initiative in the first 100 days of the Government.

Disability rights activists across the country feel, however, that the Bill excludes from its purview the country’s 30 million differently-abled children. Their expectation from the Right to Education Bill was very simple – make education inclusive for the differently-abled by integrating them into the mainstream schooling system. The rationale being, that the protected environment in a special school would not equip the children to face real world challenges.

The disability activists have two major areas of concern:-

  1. The bill has a wide definition for disadvantaged children, but does not specifically include differently-abled children; and
  2. The bill sets out minimum physical infrastructure requirements, but has no mention of specific infrastructure for the differently-abled

The activists led by Mr.Javed Abidi, voiced their concerns to the HRD Minister, and the prime minister, and it resulted in the UPA Convener Sonia Gandhi seeking a clarification from Mr. Sibal.

Mr. Sibal, in his speech, clarified that the disabled have not been excluded and that the Government was sensitive to their rights. In his words “In the definition about the child belonging to a disadvantaged group, when we frame the model rules we would like to ensure that all children suffering from whatever disabilities- and we will set it out in the model rules- must be part of the disadvantaged groups.” Although disability may not be a specifically mentioned in the definition, disabled children are entitled to an education as a matter of right. The obligation, he said, is on the state government to identify the disadvantaged groups within the state (this would naturally include the disabled) which require inclusive education into the system.

Sibal also noted that while the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (PWD Act) does not include certain disabilities like autism in the definition of disability, and this definition was referred to in the bill, the PWD Act is in the process of amendment. Once the definition is amended, a wider super-set of the disabled would benefit under both the PWD Act as well as the Bill.

The Bill, like most things, is not even close to perfect. Yet the Government’s recognition of the need to educate the disabled is indeed a significant step, and one that must be welcomed by the community. It gives the disabled a foot in the door to inclusion into society. After all, the HRD Ministry has promised: “ So we intend, as a Government, because we are committed, to provide for the disabled facilities to ensure that they too have a right to lead a full life to the extent that it is possible…  That is the commitment of this Government to the Nation“.

Hopefully, the model rules will be framed through a consultation process with stakeholders and the concerns of the differently-abled will be addressed. And finally, it would be the old bugbear, implementation, which will decide on whether the Bill would indeed be what UNICEF considers a “great opportunity for India” or just another gazette notification.

Priyanka Shelat*

Guest Blogger for Inclusive Planet

*Priyanka is a corporate lawyer working with a leading law firm, and is our first guest blogger!

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IBCL 20-20!

The video says it all! Cricket is indeed a religion!

SJ

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Guest Bloggers!

We at Inclusive Planet are always looking at getting people involved in our various projects. The levels of engagement completely depends upon the individual’s interest levels, time to spare, availability of projects etc.

Some of our well wishers  wanted to get involved in our activities through the online media, and thats when the idea of guest bloggers came about. Over the next couple of weeks you would see blog posts by an English Teacher, a Corporate Lawyer, and a Techie from the University of Florida.

If any of you want to join the guest bloggers list by contributing to our blog through writing, or have ideas to make our blog/facebook/twitter page interesting, you can write in to simon.jacob@inclusiveplanet.com or leave a comment on our blog or Facebook page.

SJ

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Come 5th August, we would be ready with the next release of Readable. For the last couple of months, we were focusing on usability and bug fixing of Readable. After many iterations of testing and bug fixing, we are now in a position to release a much improved version.

Now our next challenge is to spread the word about Readable within the visually-impaired community. Whilst Readable is an online offering, we would be relying on both online and offline methods to reach out to users in different parts of the world. We intend to spread the word through mailing lists, roadshows, NGO’s, blind schools & training institutes,  and the medical fraternity.  An optimal mix of creative ideas, and an effective execution strategy holds the key.

Would you like to Get Involved in speading Readable, through ideas, meeting people, tweeting, blogging etc ? If yes, do write to me at simon.jacob@inclusiveplanet.com or call on 98199 36418

SJ

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