Inclusive Planet is very happy to collaborate with ‘Beyond Profit‘, a magazine that covers people and ideas from the social enterprise sector. In their first guest contribution to our blog, they draw attention to three organizations that have moved away from a victim-centric view of disability by productively employing persons with disabilities. Hats off to the tireless efforts of the Diya Foundation, Blind with Camera and Enable India.
Archive for the ‘Guest Bloggers’ Category
A Treasure Trove of Books
– a teacher’s heart-felt contribution to Bookbole
Deprived of eyesight,
Milton didn’t falter.
He reached his height
With Paradise Lost,
And Paradise Regained, later.
Books galore await your pleasure,
A feast for the inner eye.
Dive for the bountiful treasure,
Savour the thrill to the full,
Till you reach as high as the Sky.
For you we have ‘bookbole’,
Technology at your doorstep.
Everything is easily available.
Flex your intellectual muscles,
Till you plumb your own depth.
– Leela Jacob*
*Leela Jacob is an English Teacher at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Baroda with a passion for poetry.
The Importance of Accessibility
“Access” is the most important aspect in the life of a differently- abled person. Most of what others take for granted, like watching a movie in a theatre, trying out a new restaurant, shopping in the new mall or going off for the weekend, are things that a differently- abled person in India cannot do. To quote journalist Jinny Macgrath “For many travellers, it’s not just a swimming pool or pillow menu that swings their hotel choice – facilities such as a wheel-in shower or a stair-free restaurant are crucial for disabled and elderly travellers.”
Countries across the world have recognized the importance of accessibility and have made public areas and amenities accessible to the differently-abled. As India is fast becoming an important tourist destination for people from across the world, the need for international standards of accessibility can hardly be over emphasized.
With the Commonwealth Games around the corner, the Tourism Ministry has revised the guidelines for standards of service and facilities in all star rated hotels. It has mandated that all star rated hotels are to be disabled friendly by October 2010.
Each star rated hotel is to have at least one room with an attached bathroom designated for differently- abled guests, which would have specific facilities including wide doors for wheelchair access; low height furniture; low peep holes; cupboards with sliding doors with low hangers; audible and visible blinking light alarm; and bathrooms with wide sliding doors and low wash basin and toilet and grab bars.
Each hotel must have provisions for wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps and anti slip floors at the entrance.
All public areas in hotels with higher star rating must be accessible and at least one restaurant must be accessible to the differently-abled. Also, a specific parking spot must be earmarked for differently- abled guests.
India’s high standards in hospitality, and the excellence of its star hotels, are known across the world. A commitment to the differently-abled, and to accessibility will enhance its reputation as a humane and conscious holiday destination.
Guest Blogger for Inclusive Planet
*Priyanka is a corporate lawyer working with a leading law firm, and was our first guest blogger!
How disabled-friendly are the public places we frequent? How easily can any of us, suffering from a physical disability, order a beer in a local bar or hang out in a shopping mall or catch Quick Gun Murugun (mind it!) at the theatre next door? Inclusive Planet is on the look-out for some discreet undercover agents to give us the answers. If you’d like to be a Disability Undercover Reviewer in your city get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org !
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:-
- The bill has a wide definition for disadvantaged children, but does not specifically include differently-abled children; and
- 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.
Guest Blogger for Inclusive Planet
*Priyanka is a corporate lawyer working with a leading law firm, and is our first guest blogger!
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 email@example.com or leave a comment on our blog or Facebook page.