Disability News India (DNI)
Disability News India (DNI), is a disability News service dedicated to providing a quality up-to-date information to the Indian Disability. DNI's news section is updated two times a week, though we also add breaking stories as and when they occur.
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- Meet the Silent Brewmasters
- Blind pilot completes 59–day flight
- Physically disabled persons get 7 attempts to clear UPSC
- New technology to the rescue of deaf children
- PCO contracts of disabled people extended
- Agonising wait at bus stops, A number of NDMC bus shelters with the disabled–friendly sign are just symbolic
- Inclusive education gets a thumbs up from students
- Japanese actress Yoshino Kimura donates disabled–friendly bus
- DTC to launch 25 new low–floor, disabled–friendly buses in August
- Bench ruling on insurance claim to disabled people
- Flying machines send hopes soaring for disabled children
- TOKYO DRIFT – Class apart: Teaching from a wheelchair
- Mental health care is being neglected because of the deficiencies in the Mental Health Act, India
- Visually–Impaired Teachers stage a protest
- Vocational training centre project for visually impaired
- F–1 car to sensor cane, techies on the fast lane
- Don't evict disabled people, Madras High Court tells Railways
- Hindi film to lift veil on autism
- A car for special people
- Listening without prejudice
- Pension scheme for the disabled people
- ISIC sets up Department of Assistive Technology
- Mobile van is helping rural people to have a better vision
- Alternate therapy brings hope for disabled people
- Provision of writers to the Physically Disabled examinees has been rejected by the Patna University
- Federation of Delhi Bus operators challenges Delhi HC order
- Blind teachers training programme to begin soon
- Supreme Court seeks govt. view on quota for disabled people in medical PG seats
- Treatment for haemophilia the silent killer costly, limited
- Paramount Films present 'Shooter' with subtitles
- Single window system to help the disabled people
- Hire disability quota, High Court tells Delhi University
- 'Provide basic facilities for physically disabled' says Dr Alva
- Physically disabled need stable jobs
- Three patients gain vision from one donated cornea
City coffee shop hires the hearing impaired to brew, serve some of the best coffees in the world!
Did you know, some of the boys working with the Cafe Coffee Day are hearing impaired? They lip read your order and brew the coffee the same way the others do. They serve you silently and you never know that they are under–privileged. These are the true 'Silent Brewmasters'.
Cafe Coffee Day, who have outlets all over India and some abroad, came up with an unique way to encourage these boys working with them for the past one and half years. They held a contest for these brewmasters called 'Celebrating Life – Listen to your heart' at the CST outlet where the participants had to brew a cappuccino or an espresso and a signature coffee with a mysterious ingredient that was given to them at the last moment.
The boys have been trained and placed by DEEDS (Development, Education and Empowerment of the Disadvantaged in Society), a Khar–based Non–Government Organisation (NGO) which believes in turning the disabilities into abilities.
Out of the 15 hearing impaired boys working with CCD, 8 reached the final. They brewed great signature drinks with ingredients like guava, kit–kat, chikoo, banana, good day biscuits, mango crush, litchi crush and orange crush; one each.
The participants were given points on the basis of the technicalities that exist behind the counter and the signature drink's taste.
The first prize was won by Anup Singh who brewed a mind–blowing coffee with 'chikoo'. His coffee had a faint hint of the brown fruit that went great with the taste buds. And his technicalities won him most points because he boiled the milk at precisely the exact temperature, the texture of the boiled liquid was perfect and the coffee took exactly 24 seconds to fall from the machine (a cup of coffee has to perfectly fall out of the machine in precisely 23–25 seconds). He was awarded a cash prize of Rs. 2000 with a certificate and a trophy.
The runners–up Vinayak and Pravin brewed excellent coffees with mango and litchi crush each. Vinayak won a cash prize of Rs.1000 while Pravin had to do with just the certificate and trophy. The best coffee maker was later announced to be Malik Dawood Sheikh who brewed the best coffees amongst all with 'guava'. He won an instant cash prize of Rs.500 and a free dinner with his family. "But his timings weren't precise and so he lost his points," said Sheetal from the HR department, CCD. The others were given certificates of participation and an encouragement clap. "We would really love it if one of you reached the Tokyo competition of brewing coffee and represented us," said Sanjeev.
Subbanna Kannur, who has himself invented every coffee that serves in the cafe said, "Cafe Coffee Day is a community that is passionate about everything in the brewing of coffee and the feel–good factor that the customer should leave the cafe with. We feel proud to say that we have been successful in making our customers aware about the different coffees and the different chords it touches. I think it's them who are gifted by God; they are the over–privileged! Sheetal, the brain behind this contest, said, "This contest has really made me think on what a bunch of thankless people we are."
A BLIND British adventurer has touched down in Sydney after a record–breaking microlight flight from London.
Miles Hilton–Barber landed at Bankstown airport in Sydney just before 8am (AEST) today.
The 58–year–old is the first blind pilot to fly more than halfway around the world, travelling through 21 countries on a 59–day journey to raise money for charity.
The father of three, who began his epic 21,722km trip on March 7, has braved snowstorms, freezing temperatures and torrential downpours.
"It's the fulfillment of an amazing dream. I've been wanting to do this flight for about four years," he said. v"I've wanted to be a pilot since I was a kid. Now I'm totally blind and I've had the privilege of flying more than halfway around the world. "The big deal is not me doing this, it's raising funds."
Mr Hilton–Barber, who went blind 25 years ago, is hoping the trip will raise $2.5 million for the charity Seeing is Believing, which works for the prevention of blindness in developing countries.
He flew with a sighted co–pilot and uses revolutionary speech output from navigation instruments to steer a course for his customised hang glider–like plane.
New Delhi: Government has extended a helping hand to the physically disabled persons wishing to enter civil services. They are now being allowed to take seven shots at cracking the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams instead of four allowed now.
The 10–year age relaxation will continue. Physically disabled persons from among OBCs are already entitled to seven attempts while there is no such bar on SC/ST candidates.
''The decision has been taken to improve access and increase representation of physically challenged persons in the civil services under the Central government,'' said a ministry of personnel official on the decision which levels the field by minimising the differentiation among the most vulnerable categories.
The government has also decided that physically disabled persons, selected on the standards applicable to non–disabled candidates of their category, will be counted over and above the quota fixed for physically disabled persons. This will be on the lines of SC/ST/OBC candidates.
Government has also held that while reservation for the three categories of disability – (visual impairment, hearing impairment and locomotor disability or cerebral palsy) – shall be made separately, the interchange in the vacancies among the three categories would be possible in case of non–availability of persons of a specified category. ''A specially constituted medical board with experts in the area will examine physically disabled persons so that fair, consistent reports are available,'' said the official.
To ensure full utilisation of quota for physically disabled persons, it has been decided to treat the backlog with respect to physically disabled persons in the same way as backlog for the SC/ST categories.
The eligibility for availing reservation against the quota for physically disabled persons would be the same as described in the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.
Measures to improve representation of physically disabled persons in civil services under central government
Press Information Bureau, PIB (press release), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, India
Source: Times of India 28,April 2007, Delhi Edition, Press Information Bureau (press release) website, http://pib.nic.in/release/release.aspTop
New Delhi, April 28. (PTI): For parents whose children are born deaf, there is a silver lining, thanks to a technology that provides them not only sound and speech perception, but gives them a chance to lead a normal and healthy life.
Doctors at AIIMS have given a gift of a better life to 118 children by implanting Cochlear implants in them since the launch of the programme nine years ago.
The institute, which is the first Government Hospital to start this expensive procedure in the country, was also the first to implant it in a child as young as fifteen months, said R C Deka, Head of the ENT Department at AIIMS.
The implant, which costs over Rs 5 lakh at the institute, is an electronic device which restores partial hearing to the deaf and is surgically implemented in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear, he said. The implant, which is unlike a hearing aid, does not make sound clearer but bypasses the damaged parts of the auditory system and stimulates the nerve of hearing, making individuals who are profoundly hearing impaired perceive sound.
"As those who have come to us belong to poor families, they benefited through philanthropic gestures of various agencies like the Army, Railway or an NGO," he told PTI. So far 158 persons have benefited, of which 118 have been children. "We are the only Government institute where people have benefited with this costly technique that gives life support to those who don't even sense sound," Deka said.
"There is a proposal with the Government in the advance stage of consideration where children will be provided Cochlear implant at an affordable cost," he said. Children are born deaf due to various reasons, including genetic deafness, infection, or early child disease like meningitis. "Adults need the surgery if they had a accident in which their hearing nerve have been affected," Deka said. The implant bypass damaged hair cells and convert speech and environmental sounds into electrical signals and send these signals to the hearing nerve.
The surgeon said, after the surgery in which the implant is surgically implanted under the skin behind the ear training is given to the patient about how to use it.
Apart from an external speech processor that is usually worn on a belt or in a pocket, a microphone is also worn outside the body as a headpiece behind the ear to capture incoming sound. The speech processor translates the sound into distinctive electrical signals and these 'codes' travel up a thin cable to the headpiece and are transmitted across the skin via radio waves to the implanted electrodes in the cochleas, he said.
"The electrodes' signals stimulate the auditory nerve fibres to send information to the brain where it is interpreted as sounds," he said. The doctor said, if a child between the age of one to five years is fitted with the implant then it is easy for him to learn quickly.
"He grows up sensing sound and speaking. Many of the children who we have operated at at an early age have taken admission in normal schools," he said.
But if the parents bring the child at a later stage, he would find it difficult to sense sound and speech. "He would take a long time to learn the speech and sound," Deka said.
Before a person is fitted with the implant, doctors carry out physical examination, including X–ray, MRI scan to evaluate the inner ear bone and psychological test.
Doctors don't fit the implant in a person who has any disability. "The child or the adult should not have any disability apart from the hearing one. The implant won't help them," Deka said. He said, during the surgery also they could make out whether the person would benefit with the implant or not. "After four weeks of the surgery, we start training the child and then their parents," he said.
During the training of a child with the speech therapist, the child is taught how to differentiate sound. Later, they are taught about vowels and short phrases. "The training is slow but we build it up by matching the sounds with visuals so that the child could pick the skill fast," he said.
"The regular training has helped. Eighty per cent of our children whom we have fitted with cochlear implant have joined normal schools," he said.
THE RAILWAY Board has extended the contracts of disabled people currently running phone booths at various railway stations across the country for three months. Thousands of such booth owners were to be evicted on Friday.
"Their contracts, which were ending on April 27, have been further extended for three months, "official sources said, but declined to elaborate.
On April 7, the Hindustan Times had reported the Railway Board's move to evict the booth owners. On April 9, taking cognisance of the HT report, the Court of the Chief Commissioner for Disabilities stayed the eviction and issued a show cause notice to the Railway Board through its Secretary.
It asked "why the said Public Call Office (PCO) scheme should not be continued and to submit the version of the Railways on the newspaper report within 30 days from the date of receipt of this notice. "
The notice, issued under Section 59 of the Person with Disabilties (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights, and Full Participantion) Act, 1995, added, "In the meantime, the existing allottees with disabilities of the telephone booths etc. under the scheme shall not be displaced and deprived of their livelihoods. "
Source: Hindustan Times, 28 April, Delhi EditionTop
Where does the Buck stop? Does the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC)'s social responsibility end with putting disabled–friendly signs on a About the ramps, Braille plates and the watch with auditory clues, which are still conspicuous by their absence, Tiwari says these are works in progress. "The Braille plates will be in place in another two weeks and the clock with auditory signals, as recommended by Samarthya, is not part of our project.
The slopes, which will help the disabled access ramps will be created soon," he promises. Pramod Bhandula, managing director of JC Decaux, world leaders in street furniture, which are making the bus stops for the NDMC, concedes that the civic body has been tardy in implementation. "The NDMC has been slow in the 45 Crore project's implementation. It was supposed to have been completed in six months but it wn take another two months now, it appears. When it was planned, the authorities had not envisaged free access for the disabled.
On our suggestion and after Samarthya's inputs, a few basic changes in structure have been made. The height of the ramp has been increased from 280 mm to 380 mm, for instance, to enable wheelchair users board low–floor buses that will be on the city's streets soon," he adds. The project gains importance in light of a related development.
DTC's tender for creation of 225 disabled–friendly bus stops is in the final stages of evaluation But in the absence of pavement engineering, mere cosmetic changes in bus shelters would turn them into islands of apathy Even the 'disabled–friendly' bus shelter opposite NDMC's Palika Kendra does not have a ramp At the bus shelter at Scindia House on Kasturba Gandhi Marg, the disabled friendly sign takes pride of place "But by the end of the year, DTC's 225 disabled friendly bus stops would be in place," assures Delhi Transport Corporation Chairman–cum– Managing Director Anshu Prakash.
Source:Hindustan Times, 28 April, Delhi EditionTop
New Delhi, April 27: Children from different government schools participated in a panel discussion on how inclusive education could help disabled children. The discussion was held at the Stein Auditorium of India Habitat Centre on Thursday. Educationists from across the country interacted with young minds at "Education Summit 2007".
The panel members, who run missionary schools and neighbourhood schools, shared their experiences.
Talking about the Bhagidari system, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the chief guest of the event, said: "Schoolchildren can bring the change and they can also encourage disabled children".
Sister Cyril, principal, Loreto Day School, Sealdah, Kolkata, said that her school believes in inclusion and has a mixed strength of well–off and slum children. In reply to a Kendriya Vidyalaya student who asked about bad languages used by the slum children, she said, "Why blame only children from slums when even some kids from well–off families use bad language." She also cleared the impression that children had on slum kids and disabled children: "Open your gates, open your hearts."
A student from D P S said: "We need to change the mentality of the people which will help the country in achieving its goals in future".
Shanta Sinha from Hyderabad asked the children to start awareness campaigns to change the mentality of people living in slums.
Shyama Chona, principal of Delhi Public School, RK Puram, spoke about her initiative Anubhav Shiksha Kendra, a neighbourhood school for slum children next to DPS, RK Puram. She replied to a number of questions in one line: "When you learn together, you live together".
New Delhi, Apr 27 : Visiting Japanese actress Yoshino Kimura, who is a goodwill ambassador for tourism, interacted with disabled children here and donated a disabled friendly bus to them on Friday.
Kimura visited 'Action for Ability Development andnclusion' (AADI) that works for the betterment of disabled people. The bus has been donated with a Japanese government's initiative as part of its 'Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects'.
"I am much impressed to see the children's cheerful faces as they receive their new buses. I am so proud of the fact that the Japanese official Development Assistance is making the kind of benefits to the people of India, "said Kimura.
The disabled–friendly buses are custom made with lifts and low floors.
"The bus is really going to help us bring the children to our organisation. It is a disabled friendly bus. It has a lift, which is automatic, hydraulic. The steps are very low so that the children can climb on it easily, " said Madhu Grover, Director of Services, AADI.
NEW DELHI: Twenty–five sleek air–conditioned, low–floor, disabled–friendly buses will start plying on the Capital's roads by August this year. Tata Motors will manufacture these buses for the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).
The air–conditioned buses are part of DTC's attempt to woo people, especially car users, to avail themselves of the public transport system. The Corporation is set to replace its fleet by the 2010 Commonwealth Games and these 25 air–conditioned buses along with 500 new non–air–conditioned ones will mark the beginning of the fleet replacement. Tata Motors will be manufacturing the 500 non–air–conditioned buses too.
"The Corporation has placed orders for 25 air–conditioned buses on a pilot basis from the lowest bidder, which was Tata Motors," said a senior DTC official. The manufacturer will also be responsible for maintenance of the vehicles until 7.5–lakh km journey.
"The DTC will be providing only the bus crew and CNG," said the official.
All the 25 buses will be placed in one depot and the bus crew will also undergo special training.
"These buses are meant to be an alternative for the private car and taxi users," the official said. The buses will have many special features that apart from being low–floor and disabled–friendly will also have a rear engine, pneumatic doors, tubeless tires, air suspension and automatic transmission.
"Additional features of the air–conditioned buses will be engines with a horsepower of 250 compared with 230 in the non–air–conditioned buses. It will also have air curtains to prevent cool air from going out and warm air from coming in when the doors are opened," the official said.
The special routes on which the buses will ply are being identified. The buses will have limited stops.
But the comfort of the air–conditioned buses will come at a slightly higher cost compared with the fare of the non–air–conditioned buses.
"A suitably higher fare will be suggested which will be value for money yet economical for the commuters," said the official.
About the routes on which these buses are going to ply, the official added: "A traffic demand survey is being conducted to assess the areas where such buses will be best suited and areas with higher paying capacity will also be identified."
Though the DTC had intended to purchase 125 air–conditioned buses, the number was cut down considering the huge costs involved. As per the tender, the cost is estimated at Rs. 67 lakh per bus. The DTC has also sought the purchase of 300 diesel buses that are Euro 3–compliant to replace the fleet on inter–State routes, the tender for which will be floated on Government approval.
MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that physically disabled people who meet with road accidents cannot be denied compensation on the ground that they are already having a disability.
Dismissing a civil appeal moved by the United India Insurance Company against the compensation granted to a polio affected person, Justice S. Manikumar said that refusing compensation for such persons would amount to discrimination and also a violation of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution.
"When a normal person is compensated for the disability suffered on account of the injury sustained in an accident, could it be different in the case of a disabled person, that too a person affected with polio," the Judge wondered.
Expressing anguish over the attitude of the insurance company, he said: "It is unfortunate that the company had taken such a hard stand to challenge the physically disabled."
Afflicted with polio, M. Balamurugan, 40, a petty shop owner at Tiruvanaikovil in Tiruchi, was thrown out of his hand–pedalled tricycle when a speeding two–wheeler rammed the vehicle on April 21, 2003. His right thigh bone fractured causing reduction of movement by 70 degrees and twisting capacity by 25 degrees.
A doctor assessed the disability, pursuant to the accident, at 40 per cent and confirmed that the victim could not sit, squat or do hard work as he was doing before the accident.
Relying upon the medical opinion, the Tiruchi Motor Accident Claims Tribunal on April 10, 2006 awarded a compensation of Rs.72, 000 with interest at the rate of 7.5 per cent per annum.
Special show at Hadapsar gliding centre helps them see opportunities in aviation industry
Pune, April 25: How does this plane fly in the air," asked Jyotsna Gade, a standard VII student while watching a model glider in the sky. Her friend Swapna, equally awestruck, too enthused impulsively, "I'd like to make a plane like that. It must be fun flying it yourself."
This was perhaps what was on the minds of several others like Jyotsna and Swapna, all students of the The Society for the Welfare of the Physically Handicapped in Wanavdi as they watched a unique gliding programme organised by the Government Gliding Centre in Hadapsar on Wednesday afternoon. The show was specially arranged for over 200 students by the centre with an aim to propagate the message that being physically disabled does not mean the doors of the aviation industry are closed.
"Your condition doesn't mean you can't do things related to flying. You can make these machines, design them and have careers in the aviation industry. There are various career options open for you there," Captain Shailesh Charbhe, incharge of the civil aviation department at the gliding centre told his young audience.
Members from the Pune Aeromodellers' Association (PAA) were also present to demonstrate the basics of aviation through their aeroplane models. "You can even make these mini planes," said Sunil Patil, a PAA member, to the students, who in turn, enthusiastically watched the aeromodels fly and applauded every take–off and landing.
The lucrative aviation industry might seem a goldmine for pilots and flight attendants, but the technicians behind the aeroplanes are the need of the hour, pointed out Srinivas Nyayapati, one of the instructors at the gliding centre. "Aviation companies are expanding their base in India. Aviation technicians are in great demand too. That's what we want to point out to these students, so that they get interested in aeronautics and have careers in the aviation industry," explains Nyayapati, And if the nearly two–hour session at the gliding centre wasn't enough, there's more in store for these students. "Usually we charge a nominal fee to teach aeromodelling. But we are thinking of giving these students lessons for free," says Patil.
Tokyo: BORN WITHOUT arms or legs, Hirotada Ototake inspired Japan a decade ago with a best–selling book about his unflagging determination to lead a fulfilling life.
Now he is taking on a new challenge by becoming a school teacher in a bid to teach the next generation to accept differences in a society that has traditionally frowned on individuality .
"My dream is to create a peaceful world," Ototake said after his first days in the classroom.
"If my competence could bring me even one little step closer to this goal, I would be very happy and find meaning in having been born into this world," he said, smiling.
Author of international bestseller No One's Perfect published nine years ago, the 31–year–old took a job teaching students from first to sixth grades at a Tokyo school when the academic year began earlier this month.
"This is a big day for me," Ototake announced from his electric wheelchair at the opening ceremony of the Suginami Dai–Yon Elementary School.
"Some of you have asked me: but how are you going to teach? Well, you will have to help me in class, like writing on the blackboard. Or else I'll write putting chalk between my cheek and my shoulder," he explained.
As children dispersed after the official ceremony, a handful encircled Ototake, touching at his shoulders and legs, trying to see where they began and where they ended.
Their new teacher, wearing a light grey suit and a pink tie, did not object. Instead he grinned.
Ototake was born with a rare genetic disorder called tetra–amelia which is characterised by an absence of the upper and lower limbs.
is accompanied by his aide Shinichi Ono, who helps him with everything from changing into his gym clothes to driving him to and from home.
But his disability did not prevent him from doing the unthinkable playing basketball and baseball after years of practice adapting the bats and balls to his body .
His passion drove him to become a sports journalist before he finally decided two years ago to study to become a teacher. He will be teaching sixth grade social science and fifth grade science classes, as also "morality" classes from the first to sixth grades.
"There are things that only I, because of my situation, can teach children, unlike other teachers," he said, adding that those things, such as respect and acceptance, won't come from any textbook.
He said having someone with disabilities in the classroom like himself as a child due to his parents' decision to send him to a normal school ? would help create an atmosphere of solidarity .
"Instead of logically and conceptually teaching children by words that discrimination is a bad thing, it is better to have them learn naturally through experience to coexist with a disabled child," he said.
"By only looking at my body you would think it impossible to dribble and throw a ball. But if children could watch me and think, 'Wow, he must have worked hard to do that' they too may feel they can challenge themselves to do something without giving up."
Source: Hindustan Times, 25 April, Delhi EditionTop
The (Mental Health) Act is merely an extension of the Indian Lunacy Act. It is a very custodial law, denying freedom of choice to the mentally disabled persons.
Shahanara loved embroidering images of sunflowers and peacocks. Even after 10 years in a mental hospital and another six in a half–way home, she never lost hope of being reunited with her family in Bangladesh, which she had left as a eight–year–old girl. Shahanara was finally united with her mother who accepted her happily despite her illness.
Rima (name changed) was not as lucky. Married to an alcoholic, she suffered mental and physical torture. Her mental condition deteriorated slowly and ultimately she ended up in a mental hospital. Despite recovering fully, her son refused to take her back and the law enforcement agencies were of little help. A fully–fit Rima, in her old age, has been left alone.
In both the cases, the law of the land on mental health was of little help. In fact, if the Mental Health Act, India, 1987, had been strictly followed, Shahanara would never have been united with her family and would have been forced to spend her life in a mental hospital. In Rima's case, the law is almost silent on the condition of patients who have recovered but whose guardians do not want them back.
The Mental Health Act (MHA), 1987, came into force in 1993. It repealed the much criticised Indian Lunacy Act, 1912. The aim of the Act was to consolidate the law relating to mentally ill persons, but many people involved in the field feel that the law has too many lacunae and needs urgent attention.
"Take the case of discharging patients from mental hospitals. Patients who were admitted by their guardians can be discharged only if their relatives take them back. Most of the guardians don't turn up and such patients are forced to languish in mental hospitals despite being fully fit," says Joyce Siromoni, the founder of Paripurnata, a half–way–home for the mentally ill in Calcutta.
"Organisations like ours have to go to a higher court and take orders to accommodate the mentally ill. This can't go on forever. There should be a law that takes into account the ground realities," says Siromoni. "The court can appoint a voluntary guardian for a patient who is abandoned by the family, but the procedures are so complicated that it is almost impossible to get a guardian appointed," says Debashis Bannerjee, a Calcutta–based human rights lawyer who has fought for the mentally ill.
"We are still in the colonial age, when the mentally ill were considered dangerous to society. The MHA is a legal document that considers protection of others from the mentally ill more important than the people affected by the disease itself," says Ratnabali Ray, the founder of Anjali, an NGO that works with government mental hospitals in the city and tries to mainstream fully recovered patients.
"I feel the Act is merely an extension of the Indian Lunacy Act. It is a very custodial law, denying freedom of choice to the mentally disabled," says Chaitali Shetty, a social worker with the Chennai–based NGO, The Banyan.
The law appoints the state as the guardian of the mentally ill and this doesn't go down well with the organisations working in the sector. "The state itself is breaking the laws. The Supreme Court guidelines which were issued soon after the Erawadi tragedy in 2001 have not been implemented so far," says Ray.
When a fire broke out at a mental health institution at Erawadi, Tamil Nadu, around 30 inmates died as they were chained to poles or beds and could not escape. The Supreme Court took notice of it and issued various guidelines, but not many state governments have taken heed.
The Court's order of 2002 to have at least one mental hospital like the Institute for Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in every state capital is yet to be implemented. "Take the north– east. There is only one hospital in Tezpur, Assam, for all the seven states and I don't see the situation improving," says Mukul Goswami, the founder of Ashadeep, a Guwahati–based non–governmental organisation that takes care of the mentally ill.
And for those in need of emergency care, the law is absolutely silent. "Anybody who is picked up from the roadside ? even if the person is in need of emergency admission to a mental hospital ? can't be admitted as the law states that a reception order is needed from a judicial magistrate first, which makes the law absolutely redundant," says Bannerjee.
According to the Act, there should be one psychiatrist for every 10 mentally ill patients, and two nurses. "That is impossible in a country like ours. Even the government hospitals are not maintaining the standards, and moreover, we just have around 4,000 psychiatrists in the whole country," says Goswami.
The law is very demanding when it comes to private mental hospitals, according to Dr J.R. Ram, a clinical psychiatrist at the city's Apollo Gleneagles Hospital. "The law states that the government shall appoint a committee of five people consisting of an expert in the mental field and others who will visit a private nursing home every month to monitor the care. This is simply not possible on the ground and many reputed hospitals do not enter this field because of the bureaucratic hassles," he says.
According to the National Human Rights Report, 2000, 20 to 30 million people "appear to need some form of mental health care" and according to the National Commission for Women (NCW), five million of these are women.
Twenty per cent of all patients in mental hospitals in Calcutta are fully fit to resume their normal life, according to Ray, but because of lack of rehabilitation and post–care treatment, these people are condemned to languish in the hospitals that are no more than jails. "Just take a look at our hospitals and the patients. Our mental hospitals look more like jails with iron grills and locks everywhere. The patients are not encouraged to socialise and lead lives like normal human beings. In fact, their basic rights have been violated," says Ray.
"There is no mention of the word rehabilitation in the Act, except for one instance, that too, pertaining to nursing homes. All over the world, rehabilitation is the buzzword for patients affected by mental diseases. In India, the government is yet to wake up to the reality of mental health," says Dr R.S. Choudhury, former medical superintendent of Calcutta's Pavlov Mental Hospital.
Human rights are being violated in a brazen manner and in many cases, the law itself is responsible for these violations, says Siromoni, looking at Shahanara's embroidered image of a peacock that adorns one of the walls in her office. "We have given up on the law completely," she says.
ABOUT 350 visually challenged persons stage a protest at Printing Press Chowk on Madhya Marg, Chandigarh
Their demands Immediate implementation of Disability Act, 1995 Declare the result of interviews for reserved posts of teachers Regularisation of blind employees working in different departments since 1991
Chandigarh: Thousands of commuters, including patients being ferried to PGI, were left stranded on Madhya Marg for nearly three hours as around 350 visually impaired persons, demanding quota, blocked the 3– km stretch on this road and two arterial roads – road from ISBT to sectors 8/9 light points and the road leading to the Rock Garden.
The protesters demanded declaration of interview results for the posts of teachers, which has been withheld by the Haryana government. Jage Ram, general secretary of National Federation of Blind, Haryana, was quite forthcoming on the issue: "What can we do? We have no alternative. Don't you think our demands are just? "
"Commuters have waited for a few hours. But we have waited for years, " said SK Rungta, general secretary of National Federation of Blind.
Earlier in the day, a meeting was held between the members of National Federation of Blind, chief secretary of Haryana and other officials. But Jage Ram claimed there was no one to represent the education department and the meeting proved to be a failure.
The Disabilities Act, 1995, provides for 1% reservation in government jobs to visuallyimpaired people. "More than 400 visually challenged persons have got their names registered in employment exchange but to no avail. The Haryana government has failed to implement the Act in its true spirit, " said Jage Ram.
At present, there are 135 visually–impaired government employees in Haryana. Rungta said these staffers are getting just Rs 2,000 as their monthly remuneration, but as per the Act, the minimum wages fixed for the class IV employees are Rs 3500.
"The government should either permanently retain the visually–challenged class IV employees who have been working since 1991, or they should be paid the minimum wages, " he said, adding they would intensify the agitation if the government did not pay heed to their demands.
Source: Times of India, 24 APRIL Chandigarh EditionTop
To provide help and resources for the visually Impaired, Bartimaeus Trinity Trust (BTT) launched a vocational training centre project on Saturday.
The trust runs an orphanage for the visually Impaired Kripa Aalayam – at Ekadu village in Tiruvallur district. At present, it has eight inmates, four visually impaired and four visually Impaired.
The vocational training centre would train the blind person for employment with help from outside agencies. The trust trains the inmates in weaving bags, umbrella making and computer skills. Inaugurating the project, Lok Sabha MP A Krishna Swamy said that all should give a helping hand for the visually Impaired persons.
He pledged his support for the trust in its work.
A website of the trust–www.btt.org.in–was launched during the occasion. Rajya Sabha MP P J Kurien pointed out that it was not a favour in helping the visually Impaired, but it was everyone's duty.
The trust also aims to expand its base and provide quality assistance to the visually Impaired. Hostel for the elderly blind person and medical assistance were part of their future plans.
Inmates of Kripa Aalayam sang devotional songs during the programme.
Dr Kuruvilla Thomas, president of BTT, P John Mathew, convenor projects of the trust, Dr T Ravi Kumar, trustee and members of Kripa Aalayam, were also present.
Source: Indian Express, 23 AprilTop
New Delhi: It is not just the tracks for Formula One car racing that Delhi is preparing for, now we have a model of an F1 car too. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi will showcase the project in its third annual Open House I2Tech 2007 on Sunday.
Open to 'ordinary' masses, the research work of its students and professors will feast your eyes. Apart from the model car, other gadgets on display will be a smart cane for visually–impaired and something as 'everyday' as a bottle seal cutter.
The smart cane, an affordable version of mobility aids available abroad, is being developed by a team of six students in collaboration with the National Association of the Blind person .
Unlike ordinary canes with which the user can detect obstacles only .5 metre away and not over three feet high, the twodevice cane will have an obstacle detection system that will aid in sensing obstacles up to three metres away and above knee height. Explained Rohan Paul, a team member: ''The detection system will emit ultrasonic beams which will sense the presence of an obstacle and transmit the beam back in forms of vibrations. The cane will also be at a pre–disposed angle, which means the beam will be directed upwards and detect things above knee–level.''
The second part is a public access transport device which will help the visually impaired in detecting the number of each bus at bus stops. ''The device costs about Rs 4,000. We are working to bring the cost to Rs 1,000. Such aids are available abroad, but for $ 1,000,'' added Paul.
A project that will interest budding astronomers is a software that will enable one to the position of stars over any given place at any given time. The SkyFY –Sky For You – was developed by Nishil Gupta and Alok Mandavgane in three months. ''The software is useful for amateur astronomers, depicts the shape of constellations and traces path of the sun. One needs to feed in the name of the city and date and one would get a correct picture of the sky for that day,'' said Gupta.The highspeed digital underwater acoustic system has been developed for wireless transfer of underwater images, underwater communication, autonomous underwater vehicles, security and data collection. Said Dr Arun Kumar, faculty involved with the development of project: ''There are several challenges in underwater communication and we have managed to overcome many of those. The system also has several non–military applications as well and may be available as a product very soon.
"We are looking at technology that has an impact on daily life. The event will not only showcase work being done at the institute, but are open to suggestions by visitors and proposals for collaboration," said Prof S Prasad, director IIT (Delhi).
Source: Times of India, 22 April, Delhi EditionTop
The Madras High Court on Friday directed the Railway Ministry not to evict the public telephone booths run by the disabled persons in railway stations.
''The Railway Ministry is directed not to demolish the booths or interfere in the possession of the allottees of the booths until further orders,'' the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice D Murugesan, said while passing interim orders on a writ petition filed by M Sasikumar, a disabled person from Coimbatore.
According to the petitioner, the licences for the booths are to expire on April 27 but the ministry had not yet renewed them. While the disabled persons–run telephone booths were facing the threat of eviction, the Chief Commissioner for Disabilities took up the issue suo motu and recommended that they should not be evicted.
Stating that the licences were granted with an objective of providing avenues of livelihood to the disabled, the petitioner said the ministry had on an earlier occasion taken steps to call for fresh tenders for operating the booths. If the licences were not renewed, the allottees would lose their only source of income, he added.
Source: Indian Express, 21 April 2007Top
Mumbai: It is an unusual subject for a Hindi film, but the soon–to–be–released Apna Asman will bring into the mainstream a little–known, yet widely prevalent condition: autism. Centred around the life of an autistic child, the film may provide the much–needed boost of awareness about the struggles of an autistic individual.
For parents whose children suffer from this neuro–developmental disability, the film is a window into their world. Autism is a lifelong disability in which children find it difficult to communicate and relate to others in a meaningful way. Eighty per cent of affected kids are boys. While the child may be blissfully aware about his 'different' existence, parents often struggle to reconcile with the situation.
Babita Raja of Vashi admits it has been "very difficult" coming to terms with her only son Bharat's autism. "But we have become thick–skinned. There are times when we pretend that other people don't exist," she says, recalling how strangers casually call 14–year–old Bharat paagal when he throws tantrums in public.
The discovery that their son had autism came as a major blow to the Rajas. "He could tell a hexagon from a heptagon at age two and we thought he would follow his father and grandfather and become a mathematician," says Babita. Their dreams were crushed when he even stopped responding to his name some six months later. From psychologists to neurologists, to a paediatrician who insisted his hyper–activity was 'normal', the Rajas had a tough time.
While diagnosis of the condition has improved over the years, parents of autistic children still struggle for information, early intervention and acceptance. "I didn't even know the A of autism," says Chembur–based Vanishree Venugopal who learnt her basics on the internet. Registering herself with the Forum for Autism helped her understand the disorder better. Interacting with other parents also helped her find therapists for her nineyear–old daughter Pushkala.
This is the area schools such as SAI (Support for Autistic Individuals) are also involved in. "Early intervention can help improve the quality of life of an autistic child," says behaviour analyst and director of SAI, Kamini Lakhani. At her centre in Santacruz, students have a one–onone session with teachers trained in special education, occupational therapy and speech therapy. As no two cases of autism are the same, teachers have to spend time assessing every child's potential and talents and help customise a teaching programme for the child concerned.
But statistics speak about the paucity of resources for autistic individuals in the city. Although there is no specific estimate, paediatricians believe one in every 250 to 300 children is autistic. Latest figures from the Center for Diseases Control, Atlanta, estimate that 1 in every 155 children suffers from this spectrum disorder. Yet Mumbai has a mere eight schools for autistic children, with a capacity of only about 40 students per school. "There aren't enough organised schools for autistic children in the city," feels developmental paediatrician at Hinduja Hospital Rajesh Udani.
Highlighting the need for "greater societal acceptance" for autism, filmmaker Kaushik Roy whose Apna Asman is based on a real–life inspiration, recalls a line he read on a hoarding, "It asked: are we going to be remembered as a generation of people who saved whales, but forgot the very human being who need our help. We must remember that every child has a right to express himself as he wants."
Autism is a neuro–developmental disorder which generally appears during the first two years of life. Children with autism have difficulty in communicating and relating to people in a meaningful way
Signs to look out for: autistic kids are likely to have poor eye contact, use words but not communicate through them, play differently with toys, prefer to be alone but hyper–active
Schools for autistic children in Mumbai: SAI in Khar, Ashiana in Andheri, Priyanj Special School in Goregaon, Sairam Autism School in Sewri, Samarpan in Vile Parle and Sadhana School on Peddar Road
Source: Times of India, 23 APRIL Mumbai EditionTop
It may no longer be an unfulfilled dream of 'special' people to drive their own vehicle. Enabling the disabled to realise their wish are a group of young engineering students who've designed a car that caters specially to the needs of the physically disabled.
The car christened 'Gravity' was on show at 'INNO–HAP' 2007', a unique national contest that pitted the skills of second and third year Mechanical Engineering students to design and fabricate cars for disabled people.
Organised by the SRM University's School of Mechanical Engineering and the Society of Automotive Engineers, more than 80 students from all over India participated in the contest.
'Gravity', a creation of students of SRM University in suburban Kattankulathur comes fitted with a single control clutch, brake and reverse–guided system supported by camera and display screen.
It is designed for "people who suffer from disorders of the lower limb," and tagged at Rs 60,000," informs Sai Ganesh, a third year student of the SRM University team that participated in the contest.
SRM University officials said that the three top teams would be given an award of Rs 35,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively. "Though the theme of INNO–HAP was innovate for physically disabled I look it as 'Innovation Happening', said Southern Railway additional general manager R Ramanathan, who inaugurated the event.
IN a room of about 30 people, a man at the dais is busy making swift gesticulations even as pointers on the screen behind him depict what his actions mean. Not a single word is spoken but the audience is 'listening' in rapt attention. That's the beauty of the Indian Sign Language (ISL) ? a language that has a strong potential to bring the worlds of the hearing impaired and those with hearing abilities, together.
Having understood this very fact, it didn't take long for two city–based women – Anita Iyer, a home–maker and Poonam Kochhar, who runs a travel agency to get working on the concept by conducting a unique workshop on the ISL. That was how the idea of Avanti was born barely three weeks ago. "Avanti, in the Italian language means to come in or to move forward. Through this workshop, we're trying to work for people with hearing disabilities to start with and want to do programmes for the visually disabled, too. In Avanti, our aim is to teach the ISL to people who can hear so that they, in turn, can communicate with the hearing impaired," says Iyer, a lawyer by education.
They wanted to adopt a professional approach to the workshop, which marked their search for a certified ISL instructor. That's how they got in touch with Atiya Hajee, a certified ISL interpreter from the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai.
"We usually expect the deaf to learn how to talk even if it is just half a dozen words that they pronounce. But isn't that unfair? Why can't we learn their language instead? It's just like learning any new language, like French or German," opines Hajee. Interestingly, there's an entire course in the ISL, a language that is complete with its grammatical structure and a person completing the entire course successfully is certified as an ISL interpreter.
The workshop that was conducted over the weekend on April 20 and 21 had people from different age groups and fields in attendance. "We really weren't sure how many people would be interested in this kind of a workshop, but we had all sorts of people, right from teachers at schools for the deaf, to speech therapists and other people who were just there to learn sign language," says Kochhar. The workshop also included two hearing impaired instructors from Mumbai who taught the alphabets of the sign language to those present.
Highlighting the larger problems of the hearing impaired, Hajee says, "Though there are special schools for the hearing impaired, they are eventually integrated with the others when they go in for higher education. In such situations, the hearing impaired have to struggle to understand basic things since no one is meeting their requirements. The need of the hour is to sensitise and motivate people to have an open mind about learning this special language."
THE DELHI government on Thursday announced that the pension for physically and mentally disabled persons would be increased from Rs 350 to Rs 600 per month. Finance Minister A.K. Walia made the announcement while discussing the Budget proposals in the Delhi Assembly on Monday The House passed the Budget by a voice vote without any changes.
"The physically and mentally disabled people need the money for their needs. This is a small gesture of the government," the minister said. An estimated 50,000 people are expected to benefit from the new scheme.
In another move, the government said that each of the 70 MLAs in the city would nominate widows from poor families for a monthly pension of Rs 600 per month. The new pension scheme will also be extended to 70,000 widows from the Below Poverty Line families. MLAs would be given 200 forms each, and they would have to get the forms filled by widows from their constituency.
Earlier, refuting the Opposition charge that the budget was "election–centric", Walia said, "Elections are to be held next year, and we have one more budget to present. Wait for next year to see what an election budget is." The Plan fund for the MCD, he said, has been increased by 77 per cent from Rs 914 crore to Rs 1,618 crore. "This is for the development of the city, not political considerations," he said.
Walia said no new taxes have been levied, except on tobacco. "That too was done keeping in view its harmful impact on the health of the people," he said. On the reduction of the tax slab on certain items, as recommended by the Opposition, Walia said the proposals would be studied in detail.
Source: Hindustan Times, 20 April, New Delhi EditionTop
The services of the new department will include assessment and evaluation for appropriate assistive devices like manual wheelchair and walking aids
In order to make technology a regular part of the lives of persons with disabilities and others who need wheelchairs, crutches or other assistive devices to lead normal lives, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), New Delhi has recently set up the Department of Assistive Technology (DAT), in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh, USA in its campus.
The department is completely devoted to the innovative and advanced system of assistive technology delivery system for improving the lives of the disabled/others who need assistive devices.
It will work on the concept of 'patient–driven approach' where a patient will be clinically evaluated for the appropriate assistive devices and based on that the quality device will be recommended as per his/her needs. In other words, the technology will be shaped around the patient and his/her lifestyle. The centre will also ensure that the technology is availed to patients keeping in mind the Indian physical environment coupled with low cost factor affordable to Indian consumers.
"Assistive devices, although they look simple, are being customised across the globe according to individual requirements. In India, we need to put more emphasis on their selection and usage, as these devices invariably act as body parts and any trouble with them could mean trouble for the individual who is using them," said Major HPS Ahluwalia, Chairman, ISIC.
According to national statistics on disability, there are eight million potential wheelchair users in India (National Sample Survey Report 2002) at present. A majority of them, who already possess these devices, are unable to use them due to inappropriate configuration resulting into pain, fatigue and secondary injuries.
The services of the new department will include assessment and evaluation for appropriate assistive devices like manual wheelchair, walking aids (crutches, walker, sticks) based on patient's controls in all environments, providing better seating and positioning system for improving postural stability and alignment to increase comfort and sitting tolerance and decrease fatigue using proper custom designed cushions. Besides, it would also offer on–site device customisation and fabrication for wheelchair and its various accessories (arm/leg rest, lap tray, sliding board etc.), computer adaptations and enabling accessibility features like adaptive hardware and software based on patient's skills level (motor, cognitive, visual, communication).
"We would provide assessment and suggestions for home modification and personal transportation for those who have barriers in their house and transportation, training for patients, their families, rehabilitation professionals and disability advocates on the scope, availability and procedures for recommendation of assistive devices," added Ahluwalia.
The Institute's future plans include research and development activities in the field of latest technical advancements in assistive technology, and providing academic programmes to train upcoming professionals in the field of assistive technology.
Shankara Nethralaya's mobile van and spectacle dispensing unit is helping rural people to have a better vision, finds out Nayantara Som.
Around 70 per cent of the Indian population lives in villages, but the extent to which the Indian healthcare has penetrated this section is questionable. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates reveal that 90 per cent of the world's blind people live in developing countries, of which seven million are each in India and China. Every five seconds, an adult is known to go blind, while a child goes blind every minute. Globally, there are 37 million people who are visually impaired, about 124 million more with significant loss of vision, of which 75 per cent of blindness is avoidable, either preventable or treatable.
Estimates point out that the number of blind and visually impaired will double by 2020, unless action is taken. An answer is here. The Shankara Nethralaya Tele–ophthalmology Programme (SNTOP) comes as a blessing for those suffering from eye–related ailments and for whom treatment is a distant dream. What is unique about SNTOP is its mobile van units that constantly move in the rural districts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka
Displays to See Better
"ISRO gifted us a large van along with a dish antenna and the relevant software and hardware to connect the unit via a satellite connection" – Dr Lingam Gopal, Chairman Elect, Shankara Nethralaya, Chennai
The first mobile unit was initiated by Shankara Nethralaya along with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bangalore in the small districts of Tamil Nadu. The mobile tele–ophthalmology and spectacle dispensing unit is aimed at providing urban facilities to rural areas. Dr Lingam Gopal, Chairman Elect, Shankara Nethralaya, Chennai, says, "ISRO gifted us a large van along with a dish antenna and the relevant software and hardware to connect the unit via a satellite connection." The van was self–contained, and the satellite connection helped us take a second opinion of the experts at the hospital.
As early as January 2001, house trials were conducted through a LAN connection, connecting ophthalmic and video–conferencing equipment between the two campuses of Shankara Nethralaya and Jagatkurusrichandrasaraswatinethral Niyalam (less than a kilometre from Shankara Nethralaya). Around 100 patients were screened through this concept. These trials were an impetus for setting up a Tele–ophthalmology Consultation Centre at Bangalore, supported by ISRO and connected via three ISDN lines to the centre at Chennai. Around 300 tele–opthalmology consultations were conducted by May 2003. In the long–run, the experience gained was an incentive for the Institute to design a mobile tele–ophthalmology unit to link rural areas to the hospital. The house trials helped realise the many deficits in technology with the mobile van. High resolution cameras were one. The cameras that came with JPEG quality images had a tendency to produce low–quality pictures and were not sufficient for such a unit. The deficiencies were rectified and thus began Shankara Nethralaya's investments in high quality technology.
Gradually, with the concept becoming popular, a second mobile unit was added in Andhra Pradesh in collaboration with the World Diabetic Foundation (WDF) and then a third unit alongwith Bangalore–based Essilor India in Karnataka. Recently, an MoU inked between Shankara Nethralaya and MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai, helped kickstart the project in Southern Tamil Nadu. Shankara Nethralaya bears the entire cost of the project. The first pilot project in collaboration with ISRO cost Rs 60–70 lakh, while the other three projects (including the one with MSSRF) cost close to Rs 41 lakh. Constant Care
"The mobile van unit covers an area of 150 kms in Karnataka and Northern parts of Tamil Nadu" – Dr SS Badrinath President and Chairman Medical Research Foundation Shankara Nethralaya
SNTOP conducts comprehensive eye examinations in rural areas at the patient's doorstep with spectacle dispensing units, eye screening for children and diabetic retinopathy screening camps. Says Dr SS Badrinath, President and Chairman, Medical Research Foundation, Shankara Nethralaya, "The mobile van unit covers an area of 150 kilometres in Karnataka and Northern parts of Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu alone, we cover six districts and cater to 70 lakh people."
Everyday, the mobile unit visits one MSSRF, Village Resource Centre (VRC) and Village Knowledge Centre (VKS) at Chidambara, Nagapattinam, Thiruvaiyaru, Annavasal, Sembatti and Thangachchimadam in consultation with Jamshedji Tata National Virtual Academy for Rural Prosperity. All the selected districts are within a radius of 300 kms from Chennai. The selection of these villages is to help the mobile unit quickly return to Chennai in case of an emergency.
Each van is manned by two optometrists and four social workers. "We screen around 120–150 patients each day, of which 20–25 patients with complex problems would be looked at by an opthalmologist at Shankara Nethralaya through the ISRO network," says Badrinath. Murali V, Manager, Electronic Communication, Shankara Nethralaya, says, "Our consultants are available from eight in the morning to 12 noon for one district and resume from two in the afternoon for an eye camp situated in another district." The camps work from Tuesday to Sunday. Further, there is an everyday awareness camps conducted between seven and eight in the night.
Typically, a day at an eye camp commences at eight in the morning. With support from camp sponsors, local volunteers (mostly students) record the patient's details and registered patients are handed out identity cards after which they are attended to by a Shankara Nethralaya social worker. Vision charts such as E–type and Snellen are used. Subsequently, a refraction test helps determine whether a patient requires spectacles. A spilt lamp examination is also carried out.
Patients above 40 years have their Intra Ocular Pressure (IOP) tested. This segregates patients requiring spcectacles from those requiring teleconsultation.
Teleconsultation involves dilating the pupils to detect diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, among others.
"The patient's details are then transferred to Shankara Nethralaya where the refractionist and consultant sitting at Shankara Nethralaya arrive at a diagnosis," adds Murali
A Step Further
SNTOP conducts other programmes like training teachers for screening the vision of children, teaches and trains local ophthalmologists, general physicians, optometrists, opticians and nurses and conducts awareness programmes in rural areas for the general public. "As far as our spectacle dispensing unit is concerned, spectacles are provided on the spot to patients at prices ranging from Rs 75–Rs 200," adds Murali. Patients with complex problems requiring further diagnosis and treatment and surgery are brought to the base hospital. Altogether, around 1,200 camps have been conducted, 1,20,000 patients examined and around 4,800 spectacles dispensed.
With the project initiated in Southern parts of Tamil Nadu, SNTOP now plans to form tie–ups for 3D telemedicine facilities.
Bangalore: A unique form of therapy for physically and mentally disabled kids is becoming increasingly popular. Complementing the conventional modes of therapy is a whole wave of alternative therapy that involves horses, dance steps and even plants to help the disabled children.
Manish, a cerebral palsy child is made to ride horses as part of therapy. A horse that's been named High range has been helping him. The experts say animals are therapeutic as their rhythmic movement is similar to the human gait. The horse's body heat acts as physiotherapy for a child's stiff muscles.
"More than 80 per cent of the child's problems are cured gradually with this therapy. It has been proven in the West that alternative therapy is successful. It's unique and the learning process is slow, yet it is more effective than counseling sessions," says Pushpa Bopaiah Equine Therapist.
And it's not just the therapists who are raving about it. "My son is autistic and has shown a lot of improvement after coming here," says Dr Manisha Krishna.
Other than horse therapy, there's also dance therapy, which helps patients overcome their disabilities. The therapy helps in co–ordination of various body parts and increases concentration. And with 80 per cent success rate, participants seem to have found a new rhythm to life.
Far away from horses and dance steps?horticulture therapy is also spreading its roots in the city. It involves simple gardening yet it's a technique that helps autistic kids.
Unconventional and out–of–the–box therapies are showing results. And with the more and more disabled persons opting for such alternative methods, the traditional psychiatrists' listening–couch seems to be getting outdated.
Source: IBN –CNNTop
PATNA: 19 April: The demand of a section of agitating students for provision of writers to the physically disabled examinees has been rejected by the Patna University (PU) examination board. PU controller of examinations Surendra Prasad Snigdha told TOI that, according to an official gazette of the Union law department, only visually impaired examinees can demand writers to write their answers. The facility of writers has not been provided for the physically disabled students, he added. It may be mentioned here that a section of PU students have been agitating for the last one week for providing a writer for a physically disabled examinee from B N College.
However, the physically disabled students of PU are likely to get an opportunity to voice their demands before a mobile court to be held here on May 1 under the supervision of the office of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities, a wing of the Government of India.
PU registrar has directed the heads of all departments and principals of colleges to furnish details of the disabled students admitted to PU since 1996 along with their grievances and steps initiated for redressal of the grievances. Meanwhile, playing a good Samaritan, PU National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers have donated a sum of Rs 12,500 from their pocket money for the treatment of a youth suffering from cancer at Pune, said NSS programme co–ordinator Rabindra Kumar.
Source: The Times of India, 19 AprilTop
New Delhi, April 18, 2007: The Delhi High Court's order to the transport authorities to register only low–floor buses in the capital has been challenged in the apex court.
On a joint petition filed by the Federation of Delhi Bus Operators and bus manufacturer TATA against the High Court's March 26 order, the Supreme Court has issued notices to the Union Transport Ministry, Delhi Transport Department, Delhi Traffic Police and other agencies seeking their response within two weeks.
Taking note of the recommendations of a court–appointed committee headed by Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, the High Court had directed that "all local buses by whomsoever they are running under the permit or otherwise, shall be low floor buses and only such vehicles will be registered by the authorities. This will also be a condition in the permit issued by the State Transport Authority," it had said.
Low–floor buses having bigger front screen and driver–s seat at a lower level are considered less accident–prone. The court had also taken note of the fact that the five low–floor buses introduced by the Delhi Transport Corporation in November 2005 and another one a year later never met with any accident.
However, Federation of Delhi Bus Operators– President HS Kalra told Hindustan Times that the order could not be retrospective effect. "Before the High Court order, the operators had already purchased 180 buses and these buses are not being registered now. Where do they go now? They all have taken loans from various financial institutions and are paying back the installments."
He pointed out that "the buses meet all the existing requirements under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules. Since these are CNG buses we can not sell it anywhere else."
Kalra said as on date there were no standards prescribed for low–floor buses and the Technical Standing Committee under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules was still deliberating upon it. In fact the High Court had directed the Committee to approve and notify the changes in bus body specifications within three months for medium and high capacity buses, intra–urban buses, long–distance buses and special purpose buses (school buses, sleepers and tourist buses).
In fact, one of the schools, K R Mangalam School too has challenged the High Court's order as the vehicles made by Swaraj Mazda and purchased by it on March three were not being registered.
What is low–floor bus?
Low–floor buses are in tune with the international practices and designs and are considered to be less accident–prone, as the driver sits in a sufficiently advantageous position at a lower level giving him greater visibility. It is also disabled–friendly with place for two whelchairs.
These buses have 390–mm floor height, pneumatic doors, rear engine, tubeless tyres, low driver seating, and enhanced upward and downward visibility for the driver.
Generally, buses have a body fabricated on a chassis. But the low–floor buses are chassis and body together. The DTC has already invited tenders for 625 such buses.
T'PURAM, April 18 2007: Applications have been invited for admission to blind teachers training programme being conducted at the Kottappuram Helen Keller Centenary Memorial School for the Blind in Palakkad district.
The course is jointly conducted by the Kerala Federation of the Blind in association with Rehabilitation Council of India and Dehradun–based National Institute for Visually Challenged.
The duration of the course is two years and admission will be limited to 20 persons. Those who successfully complete the course will be eligible for teachers– posts in schools for visually challenged as well as normal schools.
More details regarding the course and admission can be obtained over phone number 0471–2304831, according to a statement here on Tuesday.
NEW DELHI, 17 April: Should there be 3% reservation for handicapped in the All–
India quota Post Graduate medical seats? The Supreme Court on Monday sought the
response of the Centre to this question.
The All–India quota, which comprises 50% seats in post–graduate disciplines of all government medical colleges, was till last year filled completely on the basis of merit through an all–India entrance test.
However, in January this year, the court allowed reservations for SC and ST candidates.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishanan and Justice R V Raveendran issued notice to the Centre on the basis of an application filed by two handicapped medical students.
The applicant through counsel K K Mani stated that the Centre had enacted the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities Act, 1996, which provided that all government and aided educational institutions "shall reserve not less than 3% of seats for persons with disabilities".
The counsel said that some state governments have already implemented the Act and provided for reservation to handicapped persons, but that benefit is limited to the state–quota seats.
He requested the extension of this benefit to all–India quota seats as well
New Delhi, April 17. (PTI): As the World observes April 17 as Haemophilia Day, there is little awareness in the country about this inherited genetic disorder for which treatment is costly and difficult to get, experts say.
Over one lakh people are estimated to be affected by haemophilia or the silent killer that is inherited through a defect in the genes and causes severe bleeding even from very small cuts and injuries, says Dr Uppal Roy, one of the founding members of Haemophilia Federation of India (HFI).
In a country with one billion that works out to be one in every ten thousand people, he says. "Out of the one lakh estimated population of hemophiliacs in the country the HFI has been able to register 12,844 patients so far," says Roy who informs that the foundation has 60 centres countrywide.
Haemophilia A commonly known as classical haemophilia is the most common form and is caused due to the inability of the blood to clot properly. When a normal person is injured his blood quickly clots to prevent further loss of blood. However, this does not happen in the case of people with haemophilia. The Anti Hemophilic Factor (AHF) that produces clotting in blood is not manufactured in the country but imported from abroad. "In India the HFI is the nodal agency that negotiates the prices of drugs with manufacturer linked with the Canada–based World Federation of Hemophilia," says Roy.
"Each unit of the AHF costs Rs seven. The blood is dried and powdered and contained in a small vial and given to the bleeding person according to his body weight. So, a child weighing 20 kg needs at least 500 units to stop severe bleeding. A patient has to bear at least a cost of Rs 50,000 to Rs one lakh to lead a near normal life," he says.
In order to form a blood clot the body uses several proteins and blood cells. Patients with Haemophilia A have a deficiency of clotting factor 8 and those with Haemophilia B are deficient in clotting factor 9. "Replacements of factor 8 or factor 9 made out of human blood are given to patients depending on their requirements. Apart from that if patients can provide a donor we give blood transfusions," says Dr Sumita Bhasin, Professor of Medicine, Safdarjang Hospital.
The disorder usually transfers from father to daughter who then becomes a carrier of the gene with the chance of passing it on to her children. Bhasin points out there are at least three hospitals in Delhi other than Safdarjang that gives free medicines for treating the condition.
"We provide free treatment for the poor people who come to our hospital. Obviously we are able to do so for only those patients who come to us in a critically ill condition and those who are involved in accidents and the like. For other patients we usually charge," she says. Anil Lalwani a severe haemophilia 8 patient and part of the HFI says, "There are very limited diagnostic facilities available for haemophiliacs. There is also not proper treatment available in the country."
"In HFI chapters across the country, some preliminary treatment is available," says 48–year–old Lalwani who was diagnosed with the condition when he was one–and–a–half–years old. What compounds the treatment is the fact that most haemophiliacs are not unaware that they are suffering from this disorder.
There is no specific cause for hemophilia as it is an inherited disorder. "We have the facility to check for the disorder and detect the carriers. Apart from HFIs chapters five other hospitals– AIIMS at Delhi, CMC at Vellore, KEM at Mumbai and CCMB at Hyderabad–have provisions to test and give free medicines," says Roy. "These hospitals give the factor constituent free of charge. Others like the HFI and the Lion's hospitals provide medicines at subsidised rates," says Bhasin.
Other cures apart from replacement of the AHF are under progress worldwide. "Everything is in a trial stage and nothing can be said so far," says Bhasin.
In the US and UK doctors have experimented with gene therapy to find a cure for haemophilia. In India, however, there is no such therapy.
"Even in the west the therapy has not been very successful because it was found that it was always done for severe hemophiliacs to reduce their condition from severe to moderate or mild," says Roy.
"If children affected with haemophilia are not given treatment then it can lead to disability and even death in some cases. Also since patients need frequent blood transfusions they are at the risk of contracting infections like HIV and hepatitis C virus," he says.
Paramount Films of India, Ltd announces the release of their new English movie, "SHOOTER". The unique thing about the film is that for the first time ever in India, the movie will be showcased with English Sub ? titles in theaters across the country. 'SHOOTER' staring Mark Wahlberg is slated for release in India on the 13 th April 2007.
A study has revealed that most of the viewers of Hollywood films, while watching original DVD's at home, switch on to the subtitles mode. This helps them relax and not strain trying to follow complex films. Subtitling will help viewers with hearing impaired enjoy the effects in the theaters.
Commenting on the development, Jacinto Fernandes, Marketing Manager, Paramount Films of India said, "We understand lingual disparities across the globe, and hence we are taking this one step forward to enable our viewers to get a better feel of the film. He further added "this initiative will bring in a new experience in film watching and one would not have to strain to understand the heavy accented dialogues in the movie"
Tests have shown that when language used, is displayed in text, it greatly improves comprehension, particularly when the language is second language for the audiences. Viewers who have difficulty in following heavy accents and almost inaudible dialogues will benefit with the subtitled version films.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua from a screenplay by Jonathan Lemkin, based upon the novel "Point of Impact" by Stephen Hunter. Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Pena, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Rade Sherbedgia and Ned Beatty.
BHUBANESWAR, April 16 2007: The Mayurbhanj district administration has shown the way.
The State Government has decided to implement the district's initiative
called 'window of hope' for differentially abled persons who were
hitherto a neglected lot.
The project, a brainchild of Collector VK Pandian, has illuminated the lives of 6451 differentially abled persons (DAP) by enabling them to exercise their fundamental right of living a life with freedom and dignity.
A backward district like Mayurbhanj, with a very poor public transport system, makes it a nightmarish experience for a disabled person to travel long distances to get required certificates from different offices for availing benefits under various Government schemes.
The difficulties faced by the differently abled prompted Pandian to launch the 'window of hope' on a mission mode by brining all Government agencies under a single a roof for on the spot evaluation and delivery of services.
To get an income certificate, a disabled person had to apply in a prescribed format to the tehsil office. As is routine, the tehsildar directs the revenue inspector for local inquiry and after receipt of report, the income certificate is issued.
The process may take anything between a week to one month, Pandian said. For a disability certificate, the DAP has to appear in person before a medical board, which sits only twice a month at the district headquarters hospital. The certificate may be issued the same day, which very rare or many days later.
The district social officer is the nodal point for registration of the DAP and delivery of services such Government aids and appliances.
The DAP applies for an identity card along with the income and disability certificates. Aids and appliances were made available as and when funds permit.
The identity card entitles the DAP to apply for fare concession at the regional transport office (RTO) located at district headquarters and disability pension at block office. It is amply clear that the delivery system is an extremely complex and costly process which many cannot sustain, avers Pandian.
The procedures have also been simplified. Local enquiry by RI for issue of income certificate was replaced by checking land records and crosschecking with panchayat representatives present at the camp.
Instead of RTO issuing bus–fare concession card, block development officers were empowered to do the same.
More than 13,000 persons attended the camps conducted at different locations of the district and 6451 disability certificates were issued in 2005–06 alone which was more than the total certificates issued during the past five years.
Apart from Government assistance, funds were also mobilised through public–private partnership to ensure cent percent follow–up action, Pandian said.
Friday, April 13, 2007 (New Delhi)
Three per cent faculty seats in Delhi University were reserved under the
disability quota but only 30 of the 300 posts in this category were
The Delhi High Court has now said that there will be no new appointments till the empty seats in the disability quota are filled.
For five years Kedar Mandal has been navigating three flights of stairs at Dayal Singh College where he teaches Hindi.
Kedar is one of several teachers fighting a legal battle to ask for more jobs for faculty with special needs at Delhi University.
The case being heard in the High Court has resulted in 3 per cent reservation but Kedar believes that is not enough.
"I think reservations should be implemented. Lots of people do not know about the seats reserved for the community," said Kedar Mandal, Faculty member, Dayal Singh College.
But even the existing 3 per cent quota for special needs faculty has not been filled. This was a quota introduced six years ago by the Delhi High Court.
Kedar says that is hardly surprising as most colleges do not have ramps for wheelchairs. "Facilities have to be increased. Not too many colleges have toilet facilities for people with special needs. In fact most colleges do not even have ramps for those on wheelchairs".
In an attempt to solve the crisis, the Delhi High court has banned Delhi University from hiring any professors for any subject till special–needs professors are hired for all the seats reserved for them.
"We need to fill the quota quickly because our students will suffer without permanent teachers. They will then have to be recruited on an ad hoc basis," said Dr Meera Ramachandran, Principal, Gargi College.
Vikas, a political science teacher at Ramjas College, has a tough job because of the attitude on campus.
Vikas bought a laptop, which calls out notes for him, to help him in the class. But there are huge changes that the system has to make for him to be comfortable on campus.
For Vikas, something as basic as locating a book in a library can take hours.
The drastic High Court order of not recruiting any teachers to DU till the displacement quota is filled is probably justified.
Mangalore April 16: The basic facilities should be made available to the
physically disabled persons in the society, said Alva's Education
Foundation President Dr Mohan Alva.
Speaking at the inauguration of All India Banks Physically Handicapped Employees Welfare Federation and convention here on Sunday, he said the basic facilities at public institutions, educational institutions, government offices should be extended to the physically challenged. "We should think of helping the easy movement of physically disabled while constructing buildings, roads and buses." There is a need to bring physically disabled to the main streams of the society. here is a need to organise an convention of physically disabled, he added.
District–in–Charge Minister B Nagaraj Shetty said that Government is committed to the welfare of the physically disabled persons. There is a need to provide employment to the physically challenged persons so that they can lead independent life.
The JD(S)–BJP coalition government has increased the honourarium paid for the physically disabled persons from Rs 100 to Rs 500 per month. There is a need to substitute a word for the 'physically handicapped,' he added.
The government will continue to work toward the welfare of the physically disabled persons in the society, he assured.
Vijaya Bank General Manger Shyam Sundar Shetty, Sri Devi Education Trust Chairman Sadananda Shetty among others were present.
Odiyoor Seer Gurudevananda Swamiji blessed the occasion. Scholarships were distributed to 45 students, two wheelchairs and one artificial limbs were distributed to the needy on the occasion. As many as six persons were felicitated for their service to the society and handicapped persons. They include Jagannath Chowta, Mahesh R Shetty, Kalathooru Vishwanath Shetty, Muralidhara Hegde, Harish S Belchada and P Padmanbha Baliga.
MANGALORE, 16 April: "Physically handicapped do not need pension, but stable jobs which can assure them a constant flow of income.", said Dakshina Kannada District In–Charge Minister B Nagaraj Shetty.
Inaugurating the All India Banks Physically handicapped Employees Welfare Federation and its convention, Shetty said that the present JD(S)–BJP government had raised the pension of the physically disabled from Rs 100 to Rs 400, but what the government was aiming at was to provide employment opportunities to physically handicapped so that they could be self–dependent.
He also urged the society not to use terms like physiclaly handicapped as those persons must be motivated and must be made to understand their value.
"The terms like physically disabled and handicapped must not be used. They could as well be called specially abled, because they have special abilities which a normal person lacks", Shetty added.
On the ocassion, six persons were felicitated for their services to the society. Chowta Distributors proprietor Jagannatha Chowta, Mahesh Tutorials Mumbai proprietor Mahesh R Shetty, Mumbai–based Dharma Samskriti Prathishtana secretary Kulattur Vishwanath Shetty, Samuha Industries managing director Muralidhar Hegde and social worker Harish S Belchada were felicitated for their encouragement and support to the physically disabled in various ways.
In the programme, about 45 students were provided with scholarships, two were given with the wheel chairs and one person was provided with an artifical limb.
NEW DELHI: It's a breakthrough that could change the lives of millions. A team of doctors from the country's premier medical research institute, AIIMS, has broken new grounds in ophthalmology by using a single donated cornea to help three patients recover their vision.
Until now, one donated cornea was required to revive the eyesight of one patient. The latest breakthrough means the wait for cornea donors could go down significantly for the visually–impaired. In a country like India, where eye donation is still not so popular, this spells a ray of hope for lakhs of sightless people.
The AIIMS team used the cornea of a 44–year–old donor, who died of a heart attack, and sliced it to transplant its different parts into the eyes of three different patients in one day ? one of them 60 years old, another around 40, and the third a five–year–old boy.
What's more, follow–up of the three patients showed that there was no rejection in other words, the surgeries were 100% effective. New tissues had grown over the transplant, while their visual acuity improved greatly in just three months. After successfully testing the surgery on 20 more patients, the team has announced its feat in the latest edition of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.
The team, led by professor of ophthalmology Dr J S Titiyal, an expert in cornea and refractive surgery, and his former colleague Dr Rasik Vajpayee, now based at the University of Melbourne, sliced the tissue of the cornea into three parts to replace diseased areas of three patients.
The 40–year–old–man had a diseased endothelium (deepest part of the cornea responsible for regulating fluid), while the 60–year–old man suffered from a defective corneal strome (thick transparent middle layer). The little boy had a total limbal stem cell deficiency following chemical burns in his right eye.
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