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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. DNI– Subscription

Disability News India – June Issue

Deafblind children given kits

Ahmedabad June 28, 2007: To mark Helen Keller's birthday today, an NGO, Sense International (India) distributed educational kits to deafblind children across the state at its rural partner centres including Kutch Vikas Trust, Bhuj and Aashirvaad Trust at Sayla.

June 27 is celebrated as Helen Keller Day. Helen Keller turned deaf and blind when she was 18 months old. She went on to graduate from Radcliffe University and dedicated her life fighting for the rights of people.

She went on to become one of the 20 most influential women of the 20th Century and continues to be an inspiration for many.

There are an estimated 4.25 lakh deafblind people in the country. Most of them can reach their potential towards self–sustainability and dignified living with a little support and right education. Sense International claims to have reached close to 8,500 such deafblind children and their families through 37 partners across 19 states.

In Gujarat itself, there are over 200 deafblind children who are being catered to through direct services in the form of home based, community based and centre based education and training.

"The challenges faced by the deafblind children are unique and not the same as other disabled children. Hence, it is critical for it to be recognised by us as a society and policy makers. They are ready and capable of flying and reaching their own milestones. The society needs to support this flight towards self–dependence in its initial course," Akhil Paul, Director, Sense International (India) said.

"Our philosophy has been to support the education and upliftment of the lesser privileged members of the society," said Naresh Nagpal, Vice President and Branch Manager, HSBC, a donor organisation of Sense International (India).

Source: http://www.business–standard.com/economy/storypage.php

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Project for hearing impaired

HYDERABAD: With an estimated 6.8 per cent of the population with hearing loss and more than 25,000 babies born every year, a programme to identify, treat and rehabilitate persons of all age groups will be launched in two months.

It will be taken up across 25 districts on a pilot basis under a National Project for Prevention and Control of Deafness.

The programme is proposed to be extended to all districts in the next five years, T.V. Krishna Rao, member, Central Coordination Committee, National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness and former president of the Association of Otolaryngologists of India, told The Hindu.

At least 15 to 17 % of school children were with hearing impairment. The stress of the programme would be on children and newborns, as the results would be much better in them. Lamenting that the problem did not receive the attention it ought to have got from Governments for many years, he pointed out that early detection ? between six months to three years ? would enable 80 per cent of such children to go to a normal school through proper rehabilitation.

The selected districts have been identified as nodal points. The preliminary tests for treating and rehabilitating patients referred by the primary or school health centres would be conducted at the district hospital. The hospital, in turn, would be attached to a centre of excellence where sophisticated surgeries could be performed. Hearing aids would be provided and speech therapy conducted. In Andhra Pradesh, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy (King Koti Hospital) districts have been selected.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/06/27/stories/2007062754270400.htm

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School in a face–off over 'dyslexic' child

Mumbai: The high court passed an order last year making it compulsory for all schools to identify students with learning disability and provide concessions to them.

Bombay High Court
The directive was passed after the parents of a dyslexic student at St Mary's High School filed a petition against the school for failing her son.

A year later, history has repeated itself. Another boy with similar conditions from the same school, Sheldon (name changed), was failed in Std IV. Sheldon has turned quiet, spends most of the time crying and has completely lost interest in studies said his parents who have removed him from the school.

Sheldon was not given the grace marks (20) in his exams one of the concessions set by the high court.

"When he was in Std II, I found that my son was weak in spellings and had a problem with writing. The teachers, however, never advised us on what steps must be taken,'' said the boy's mother, Mignonne Crasto.

The Crastos took him to a psychologist, where he was not found to be dyslexic. However, in Std III, when he was again tested by clinical psychologist Purnima Mirchandani, he was found to have a dyslexia index of 2. The report stated that he was "at risk for dyslexia''.

"The reports don't say he has dyslexia. Then how can we grant him the concessions?'' said the school principal Father Evarist Newnes. Interestingly, the school has put his name on a list of dyslexic children in Std IV. "This was our own initiative, based on our observations of the child,'' said Newnes, adding that his name was struck off the list in the third term, as his parents had not taken the necessary remedial measures. "Even if we had given him grace marks, he wouldn't have passed,'' he added.

Advocate Sheetal Kumar, the lawyer whose battle last year resulted in the HC order, said the principal and teachers were in no position to draw up an ad hoc list of dyslexic students. "There are experts who need to test a child for learning disability ,'' she said.

While the school claimed to have given him extra time to finish his exam papers in the first two terms, his parents denied it. "We were told nothing about the extra hour granted to our son,'' said Sheldon's father Dominic Crasto.

The Crastos took Sheldon for sessions with Dr Mirchandani when he was in Class III and then in Std IV, sent him to psychologist Dr Narendra Kinger. School authorities have reportedly blamed the parents for "jumping from one psychologist to another''.

The HC lays the onus of identifying dyslexic children with the school and not parents and has also made it mandatory for all schools to screen children in Std III and VI for dyslexia. "A school that fails to do so is violating child rights,'' said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty. "The institution should have contacted the counsellors and got a clearer picture''.

Source: Times of India, 24 June, Mumbai Edition

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Survey to identify disabled people in TN

Coimbatore: An intensive survey to identify disabled persons under different categories would be carried out in Tamil Nadu soon, a senior official has said.

The survey was to get exact number of disabled persons in various categories like speech, hearing, visual, orthopaedic and mental, based on which assistance could be provided to them, V K Jeyakodi, Commissioner for Disabled People, said.

Speaking at the inaugural function of a School for Speech and Hearing Impaired Children, sponsored by Indian Red Cross Society here yesterday, Jeyakodi said according to 2001 census there were 16.4 lakh disabled people in Tamil Nadu in different categories, which would have gone up in the last six years.

The government would get a clear picture about the needs of disabled people and the assistance to be provided after the new survey, he said, adding that the district collectors would be given questionnaires for the purpose.

He said special camps would be conducted to identify disabled people and provide them with National Identity Cards.

All the disabled people would be identified within six months and provided with the cards, Jeyakodi added.

Source: http://www.chennaionline.com/colnews/newsitem.asp

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Airline says sorry to disabled man

New Delhi: Jetlite, a division of Jet Airways and was formerly Air Sahara, on Thursday apologised to Rajiv Rajan with cerebral palsy for refusing to let him board a Delhi–bound flight in Chennai on Monday.

The airline also said it would sensitise its staff to the special needs of people with disability. "We regret the inconvenience caused to Rajiv Rajan. We will train our staff to be sensitive towards people with special needs. We apologise for the inconvenience," Jetlite said in its public apology.

Rajan was made to wait three hours at the Chennai Airport on Monday and was not allowed to board the flight because airline officials considered him unfit for travel. The officials told him that he needed a medical clearance or an escort.

Rajan was flying to Delhi to attend a seminar on disability as an invitee of the Government of India. Disabled rights activists protested at Delhi Airport on Thursday and at Chennai on Wednesday against the way Rajan was treated.

Jetlite is the new name for Air Sahara, which was recently bought by Jet Airways

There was a public uproar and condemnation against the incident after CNN–IBN telecast a story on the incident.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday asked the airline to explain why it barred Ranjan. "We have seen media reports about this. Based on these reports we have asked the airline about the circumstances under which the passenger was offloaded and what it proposes to do about this," a spokesperson of the DGCA said.

Rajan, who heads an NGO for disabled people, was to attend a meeting of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities to discuss a training programme to be launched in the country.

Source: http://www.ibnlive.com/news

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Disabled people protest in Chennai airport against offloading NGO activist

CHENNAI: About 100 physically disabled persons on Wednesday formed a human chain in front of the domestic airport here in protest of refusal by a private airline's to allow a cerebral palsy victim to board the aircraft without an escort.

Holding placards, disabled people, most of them in wheelchairs, held a peaceful protest by forming the human chain for nearly 90 minutes.

They demanded equal rights and urged the Government to put an end to discrimination against disabled people..

"We've been facing discrimination from various airlines and Monday's incident was the height of it. It not only violated human rights, but also the International Civil Aviation rules," said Smitha, Assistant Coordinator – Vidyasagar, an NGO which organised the agitation.

"We want to make this issue a national movement against discrimination on the grounds of disability and are also planning to file a Public Interest Litigation against the Civil Aviation Ministry," she said.

Physically disabled persons from NGOs like Banyan and Ability Foundation also took part in the human chain protest.

Air Sahara officials on Monday refused to take on board 34–year–old wheelchair user Rajiv Rajan without an escort, triggering a nationwide debate on the need to sensitise private airlines to the rights of disabled people.

Despite Rajan's plea that he was a frequent flier and was fit enough to travel alone, the airline staff tried to push him out of their office and even called in police to show him the way out.

Rajan, a coordinator with Vidyasagar, was scheduled to attend a meeting in New Delhi.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Disabled_protest_in_Chennai_airport

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Better facilities for disabled people at Egmore station

CHENNAI, Jun 21: The Egmore railway station is in the process of becoming more disabled–friendly with the construction of a series of new ramps with supporting railings. "Earlier the ramps would be in some corner. Now we are putting them at every entrance," said a senior railway official.

Less than a year after the Madras High Court issued guidelines for the railways to ensure an accessible environment for the disabled, the station is working towards this end. According to Southern Railway officials, additional funds were sanctioned in the 2007–08 railway budget.

"Last year we started work with our own funds. This year we can spend up to Rs. 1 lakh for each work; for example just for the ramps. There are no longer any constraints on funds and the Chennai Division can spend Rs. 22 crore for passenger amenities alone," the official said.

Within the last three months, two new ramps at each entrance, a separate parking lot and a separate counter for the physically challenged have been set up at Egmore. There is also a special washroom with railings and low level sinks and commodes that is open to disabled people on request. "We do not want others to use it. The sad thing is that even the ramps are being used more by motorcyclists," said an official.

"Just putting in ramps is not enough," pointed out Meenakshi. B, assistant coordinator of the Disability Legislation Unit of Vidhya Sagar, a non–profit organisation committed to the rights of disabled persons. "Disabled persons continue to face several hardships when using public transport," she said.

Vidhya Sagar was at the forefront of bringing about the guidelines following a PIL filed by the coordinator of the Disability Legislation Unit, Rajeev Rajan.

Source: www.hindu.com/2007/06/21/stories/2007062157330100.htm

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Jetlite faces nationwide anger after restricting the entry of physically disabled person

June 20: After Jetlite (previously known as Air Sahara) officials refused to take on board 34–year–old wheelchair–user Rajiv Rajan without an escort on Monday, the debate on the need to sensitize private airlines to the rights of disabled people has triggered nationwide.

The passenger, 34–year–old Rajiv Rajan, working with an NGO called Vidyasagar, was due to fly to New Delhi on Monday morning to attend a meeting of the National Trust, a body under the ministry of social justice and empowerment, that works for disabled persons. The directorate–general of civil aviation (DGCA), the regulator in the civil aviation sector, has sought an explanation from the airline Jetlite (known till now as Air Sahara) for its refusal to board Rajiv Rajan.

"Cerebral palsy is a condition and not an illness. Those affected by cerebral palsy do not have control over their muscles. It does not mean that these persons are unwell and unfit to travel by air," said Abidi, Disabled Rights Group convenor. "Air Sahara has treated Rajan shabbily and should immediately apologise to him, besides giving him compensation," he added.

About 100 physically challenged persons today formed a human chain in front of the domestic airport in Chennai in protest of refusal by a private airline's to allow a cerebral palsy victim to board the aircraft without an escort. They were holding placards, most of them in wheelchairs, held a peaceful protest by forming the human chain for nearly 90 minutes.

They demanded equal rights and urged the government to put an end to discrimination against the disabled.

"We've been facing discrimination from various airlines and Monday's incident was the height of it. It not only violated human rights, but also the International Civil Aviation rules," said Smitha, Assistant Coordinator – Vidyasagar, an NGO which organised the agitation.

"We want to make this issue a national movement against discrimination on the grounds of disability and are also planning to file a Public Interest Litigation against the Civil Aviation Ministry," she added.

However Jetlite in its defence came up with a different story, stated as "His (Mr. Rajan's) driver requested for a wheelchair and left him without advising any details to the staff on duty. The duty officer attending to him (Mr. Rajan), on seeing his condition in the wheelchair, enquired whether he had any attendant with him or was in possession of a fitness certificate which was required for his travel. On the inability of Rajan to explain the situation to the duty officer, he was advised that he was not in a fit condition to travel on the flight. Unfortunately, Rajan seemed upset and started rolling on the floor and was unable to give any additional information,"

According to Jetlite it had been guided by the medical manual of the International Air Travel Association (IATA) in refusing Rajan's entry. "Air travel for passengers who need care is guided by Section 6 of the IATA Medical Manual, which requires medical clearance if the passenger is (either) incapable of caring for himself or requires special assistance, has a medical condition that may be adversely affected by the flight environment, (or) is considered to be a potential hazard to the safety of the flight, including the possibility of diversion of the flight or an unscheduled landing," Jetlite stated.

Head of the National Trust, Poonam Natarajan, said that the trust would definitely take up the matter with the social justice ministry. Rajiv Rajan was travelling to New Delhi to attend a subcommittee meeting of the National Trust to decide on the issue of imparting training to persons with disabilities.

Source: http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/349

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Airline offloads disabled people, should action be taken?

It's probably one thing that most people don't really feel like talking about or even thinking about: Our attitude towards disabled people. The case of Rajiv Rajan is a glaring testimony to this problem.

Rajiv with cerebral palsy – which essentially means a brilliant mind caged inside a disobedient body – was denied permission to fly Air Sahara, which is now called JetLite after Jet Airways took over the airline, on Monday. The passenger was also made to wait at the airport for three long hours in spite of his special condition.

Does this mean the airlines violated the dignity of Rajan? Should action be taken against the airline for preventing disabled people from flying? These were questions discussed by a panel comprising an aviation expert and disability activists on CNN–IBN in the prime–time show, India 360. The show was moderated by Bhupendra Chaubey.

The Director General of Civil Aviation has already served a notice on the airline, asking for an explanation on the treatment meted out to Rajiv Rajan. On its part, the airline pulled out the rulebook to defend itself, saying Rajiv was not allowed to board the aircraft in compliance with the rules of International Air Transport Association.

"If they are not accompanied by somebody, or they don't have a certificate to certify themselves medically fit to fly, then under IATA regulations, it would be inappropriate to board them," Garry Kingshott, Ceo of JetLite, says.

But Rajiv claims he doesn't need a fit to fly certificate. "Fit to fly certificate is meant for medically ill people, not for disabled people. I thought they were going to push me off my wheelchair. So, I left and called the police," he says.

Rajiv says this was not his first brush with such discrimination. In fact, he had suffered at the hands of Jet earlier as well. The treatment meted out to Rajiv has now thrown open a debate about equality and right to dignity of disabled people and also about the discrimination faced by these people in their day to day life.

The rulebook for airlines across the world is quite clear about who can fly and who cannot fly. But people like Rajiv, obviously, don't belong to the group who cannot fly. It's just a case of the airline being insensitive.

"It's sheer callousness," Convenor of Disabled Rights Group, Javed Abidi, points out. "The Jet Airways or JetLite is so scared of the incident that they are even refusing to admit that the lapse has happened on their part. And they are trying to use the brand name of Air Sahara in this case whereas the whole world knows the Jet Airways owns it," he says.

Abidi doesn't buy the argument that the airlines may be not equipped to deal with such people or such cases. "They can't make a distinction since they don't make any such distinction in case of non–disabled people. Then why this judgement on people with disability? The moment you see a person on a wheelchair, you presume that the person is unwell," he claims.

Rajiv himself says that "this was the first time I faced such an awkward situation as far as the boarding an aircraft is concerned. No co–passenger came to my rescue," he regrets.

Denzil Keelor, well–known aviation expert and a retired air marshal, says the way the airline handled the case was totally wrong. "They had no business to provoke the boy to an extent when he had to call in the police. This is no way to treat people," he says.

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Source: http://www.ibnlive.com/news/india/06_2007

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Chennai, an obstacle course for disabled people

Chennai: Chennai–based holistic centre of the Spastics Society of India, Vidyasagar, will conduct a legal counselling camp for the disabled at Karimnagar, near Hyderabad later this month. The camps are organised with a view to alert the disabled people on the rights conferred on them by the 'Persons With Disabilities Act' (PWD) 1995 but are not implemented. The organisation has conducted similar camps in the Andaman Islanads, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Disability Legislation Unit –South (DLU) of the organisation is currently handling around 45 cases, crafting legal opinions for individuals in most cases.

In the past two years, members of the DLU filed three Public Interest Litigations (PIL) with the Madras High Court, one each against the Metro Transport Corporation, Indian Railways and temple authorities to create a barrier free environment in Chennai as stated in the objectives of the PWD. The unit went for two access audits for disabled–friendly buses in 2006. But immediately after that, the court gave a stay order on supplying new buses, said Meenakshi, a disabled person, who is working in the organisation since the past three and a half years.

In his 2006–2007 budget speech, the finance minister of Tamil Nadu earmarked Rs 150 crores for the purchase of 3,000 new buses which have already started plying on the streets. "We are seeing the new air buses that are plying on the streets now. If the government can spare money for that, why cannot they spare some for us?" questioned Meenakshi. A simple automatic sliding ramp fitted at the door would make these buses disabled–friendly.

Rajiv, who is pursuing his PG Diploma in Human Rights from the Indian Institute of Human Rights, Delhi, comleted class 10 as a private candidate from Vidyasagar and graduated in B.Com from Loyola College. He uses the wheelchair to move about and said, "as soon as a disabled comes out of his or her home, they are faced with problems of various natures." In the PIL against railways, filed in the names of Rajiv and Meenakshi, who wears callipers and uses crutches, it was stated that since he could somehow manage to get onto the train, her complaint of not being able to use the plank they had provided went unheard by the commissioner appointed for the access audit.

The Chennai Corporation built a pavement in front of Vidyasagar in Kotturpuram for the disabled. Describing it, Smita, who has multiple sclerosis and is working with the organisation's DLU, said, "It is narrow, unlevelled, pot–holed where the trees have been uprooted and if you get onto it from one end you can get down only at the other end since there are no ramps in between."

Commenting on the infrastructure of the private malls of the city, Meenakshi said, "I am aware of a ramp in the City Centre mall. I could not climb onto it on my own. Furthermore, the wheel chair is kept inside, with no provision to help the disabled outside the gate." When this reporter went to the mall, the site manager Senthil Kumar said, "the wheel chair is kept there only, anybody can use. But I see few disabled persons coming and those who come, are escorted by somebody."

Activists across the country are demanding the amendment of the PWD to include diseases such as HIV, Diabetes and Cancer. But a senior journalist with a leading newspaper who is blind says, "there is a need to amend the law, but if it is implemented as it is, it would be of a great help to the disabled as well as others not covered by the act in a direct way."

Source: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/004200706191860.htm

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Person with disability denied permission to travel by Air Sahara

How many more Acts do we really need? How many more Conventions on the Rights of persons with disabilities do we need? How many more offices and organisations need to be established to protect the Rights of persons with disabilities? How many more?? While in real time the discrimination and humiliation continues to be the staple diet for persons with disabilities.

Here is yet another evidence of the humiliation faced just because you have a disability!!! This time the victim is my friend Rajiv from Chennai and the offender is Air Sahara India who has denied Rajiv from traveling on 18 June 2007 from Chennai to New Delhi because he is a person with cerebral palsy and he was traveling without an escort.

Despite having a valid ticket to travel – purchased on cost – on what basis did the Air Line arrive at the conclusion that Rajiv cannot travel without an escort? Children travel by air without an escort. Rajiv is an adult and has the capacity to make his own choices and decisions. He has traveled independently by air on many occasions using the same airline. Is getting down on your knees to shift from the wheelchair to your seat in the aircraft a crime? Is it not the responsibility of the airline to listen and understand the needs of the passengers? Are passengers with disabilities that are permanent in nature any different? All passengers using wheelchairs are NOT MEDICAL PASSENGERS. Where are the guidelines? Who decides? Persons with disabilities have a right to live independently and the person with disability has the right to decide if he/ she needs an escort.

How do we change this attitude? How can we get Air Sahara to pay the price for this humiliation? How can we complaint to a body that the airline will listen to? Should this discriminatory practice be brought to the notice of International Air Transport Association (IATA)? Can we not ask IATA to table a compliance guideline that respects the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities? Where is the justice? How long do we have to wait for justice?

We need to take up this issue independently at different levels and bring an end to these uncertainties that persons with disabilities have to face each time they travel independently by road, rail or air.

Rajiv can be contacted at rajiv_alathur@yahoo.com

Read More..

Disabled man denied flying permission

Air Sahara under fire for barring disabled person

Private airline offloads wheelchair bound man

© C. Mahesh, DNI

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Disabled man denied flying permission

Chennai, June 18, 2007: A disabled person in Chennai was denied admission into an aircraft by Air Sahara authorities.
Air Sahara Logo Rajeev Rajan is someone who fights for the rights of disabled people worldwide but Air Sahara denied him a boarding pass to fly from Chennai to Delhi.

Rajan with cerebral palsy but does not require an escort for travel.

Rajan says the airline authorities insisted on an escort and a fitness to fly certificate and called the police to evict him.

His repeated pleas that he is a frequent flier and ought to be treated with dignity went unheard.

When Rajeev contacted another airline, Spice Jet, they too refused him a ticket.

''This is a gross violation of a person's basic human rights. He had a valid ticket and was on time. This is an apartheid of a different kind, '' said Rajul Padmanabhan, director, Vidya Sagar.

Doctors say cerebral palsy person ought to be allowed to fly independently. Only those in extreme condition and who travel for treatment will require a doctor's certificate and an escort.

This is the second such incident in the recent past. Last year an autistic child was denied admission into an Air Deccan flight in Bangalore.

Despite NDTV's best efforts, both Air Sahara and Spice Jet officials were not reachable and now Rajeev has decided to approach the consumer court and file a PIL as well.

While so much is being talked about making our airports disabled friendly, what is urgently required is a change in mindset.

Source: www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx

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New Delhi Station, trains lack disabled–friendly facilities: NGO report

New Delhi, June 18: Trains, including the Rajdhani and Shatabdi, and the New Delhi Railway Station do not have facilities for disabled people including accessible drinking water, ramps, train schedule signages, toilets and assistance staff–says an NGO audit report.

Inacessible Train compartment for Disabled People
The report, prepared by NGO Svayam, will be presented to Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav in two months to highlight the "inaccessible" rail transport system, say NGO officials.

NGO founder Sminu Jindal (herself wheelchair user), said: "We have done this exercise to highlight how this system of mass transport is inaccessible to a large part of the population, both rich and poor and that any change should be made keeping this in mind."

New Delhi Railway Station
With around half a million footfalls daily, this is busiest station in North India. However, the only way a person on a wheelchair can reach the station is through some tracks 200 meters away from the station where trains whiz by at frequent intervals.

Svayam managing director, Abha Negi, said, " Disabled People find it difficult to reach any of the 12 platforms as they are all connected by stairs. The gambit is bigger for blind people with no tactile tiles, like in the metro, to warn a person if he or she is about to fall off. Potholes in the station, too, pose another hazard for blind people. Also, none of the arrival–departure signs have audio support for visual display and vice–versa making it impossible for them to negotiate rail traffic."

"This is considered one of the best trains in India but it has no facilities for the disabled," says Abha. At a height of 700 mm, the entrance to the train makes it difficult even for the elderly to access it. The narrow tight compartment doors are inaccessible to a person on a wheelchair. As far as toilets, which have width of 440 mm, are concerned, even an ordinary person finds it difficult to enter, says the report.

The main criticism about this train is the "waste of space" with "unnecessary" front tables and many storerooms. Abha says, " A large disabled friendly toilet could have been constructed in this with wasted space." And, like Rajdhani, the entrance doors have been found to be too narrow and high, says the report.

An ordinary train
Inaccessible toilets and a narrow compartment makes it all the more difficult for disabled people

Bogey for disabled people
"We have been very critical because, unlike most countries, Indian Railways continues to segregate disabled people in a separate compartment. We will request the Railway Minister to change this policy in the light of new trains being built," says Abha.

Though 'For Disabled' is displayed in bold letters, most platforms have no tactile blocks in front of the bogey for the visually visually. Moreover, these bogeys are occupied by the general public in connivance with rail officials, the report adds.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php

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Cricket Players cheer special children

Bangalore: Thirteen–yearold Kalib would have never dreamt of meeting his hero Sachin Tendulkar. But on Tuesday, the physically disabled saw his dream come true.

Kalib got the opportunity to not only meet Sachin but all the other cricketers who were in the batsmen's fitness camp here.

Mathru Foundation, a charitable trust for people with disability, took Kalib in its fold after his grandmother could not take care of him due to abject poverty.

Chairperson of Mathru Foundation, Malathi K Holla, who is an international disabled athlete, said: "It was a dream come true for these children, though they could not meet all the players. But they will cherish the fact that they met a few of them."

Currently, the foundation has 12 children from rural areas. "We have a residential home for them. We provide them education and take care of their medical expenses," said the Arjuna and Padmashree awardee.

"The children were keen on meeting the players. Since Team India bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad is one of the trustees of the Foundation, we requested him and he obliged. This has motivated the children a lot." she said.

The players spent most of their morning at the National Cricket Academy interacting with the special children.

"Our contribution is to motivate the children and see if we can generate some funds for the trust. It's a dream for these children to meet the players and and we thought this was the right opportunity," said India bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad. Krishna Reddy, another international disabled athlete, was also present.

Source: Times of India

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Blind sailors set to create world record

Sydney: With two years gone already, they are way off the pace than most other roundthe–world sailors. But American couple Scott Duncan and Pamela Habek still have a chance of getting their names in the record books.

Pam Habek and Scott Duncan
They are legally blind. Habek has only 10 percent of normal vision and Duncan just half of that. They don't even have licences to drive cars but can sail a boat.

Their ten–metre yacht called Starship is equipped to cope with their disability. It has a global positioning system (GPS) modified to read out information, magnifiers for charts, and even colour–coded rigging.

The couple accept help only when their single–masted vessel nears port and the traffic gets busy. "The rules we set for ourselves are that we will accept the tow at that point, but otherwise the whole of our journey is done just with me and my wife and no sighted people on board," Duncan told Australia's ABC Radio after the Australian coastguard helped the Starship dock in Sydney.

In the wide blue yonder they feel no different from other sailors. "In the middle of the ocean, I think it's very equalised once you know your boat," said Duncan.

They expect to get back to California and complete their global tour before the end of the decade. They reckon the trip from New Zealand to Australia was more challenging than their run across the Pacific.

Source: Times of India

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60 seconds to fame

Ability Fest 2007 Chennai, June 16: Entries have been invited for the second annual one–minute film competition of Ability Foundation on the topic 'Celebrating Disability.'

Ability Foundation, a Chennai–based NGO for disabled people, is offering a cash prize of Rs 2.25 lakh for the best entry, said a press release. The competition is open to all. Participants are required to submit an original film and winners will be selected by a panel of eminent jurors. The last date for submission is August 16, 2007.

The best entries will also be screened at Ability Fest 2007, the India International Disability Film Festival, to be held in Chennai this October.

Ability Foundation is also involved in publishing a magazine, providing vocational training qualified disabled people, holding placement programmes, workshops and seminars, hosting a weekly radio programme and creating awareness on the rights of people with disabilities. For more information log on to www.abilityfoundation.org.

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Army wants jobs for disabled soldiers

The army too wants reservation. But no one can possibly disapprove of what it is asking for. Making a strong case for the rehabilitation of war–wounded soldiers and widows, the army will soon ask the government to work out a formula for reservation of jobs for disabled soldiers in the corporate sector.

Army chief General JJ Singh said on Friday that industrial houses should consider helping such soldiers and widows pick the thread of their lives. "A few modern nations have such an employment model in place," he said.

Figures provided by the War Wounded Foundation (WWF) show that more 25,000 disabled soldiers across the country need to be rehabilitated.

Till two years back, the army was bleeding in the counter–insurgency grid with over 200 fatal and 600 wounded casualties every year. Singh claimed that losses in J&K and the northeast had reduced drastically. He said annual fatality had come down to 40 while the count of wounded was around 250 during the last two years.

Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi (retd), WWF president and former army vice chief, said disabled soldiers had been given a raw deal. "The kin of martyrs get their due but the wounded have been always been ignored."

Oberoi, who lost a leg in the 1965 Indo–Pak war, is spearheading efforts to rehabilitate disabled soldiers with the help of the corporate sector.

Source: www.hindustantimes.com/storypage/storypage.aspx

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Workshop helps children with learning disabilities prepare for the future

Malad: CHILDREN WITH attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities can be a challenge for any parent. The Malad–based Hemkala Vasudev Gandhi Counselling and Training Centre for Slow learners and learning disabled offers some help. Set up in 1973, the organisation has been organising summer camps for children with learning disabilities. "The camp provides practical experiences to participants and prepare them for the future," says Dr Hema Dhoot, Principal of the organisation.

The final day of the camp saw the participants presenting an entertainment programme.

Shyam Panenangalore, father of twelve–year–old Nikita who is suffering from autism, said, "I like to send my daughter here. She has become confident."

The activities at the camp included drawing, public speaking, dance, aerobics, skating and tie and dye. The students gave a glimpse of all that they learnt through skits, songs, and dances.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Physiotherapy career option Education in India

New Delhi: With an increasing number of people suffering from physical and neurological disorders, physiotherapy has evolved as the best treatment. It has also emerged as one of the most lucrative professions in the healthcare sector.

For those looking forward to this career, a Bachelor's programme in physiotherapy, is the ideal course. Currently, two colleges in Delhi University (DU) offer this course, Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute and Amar Jyoti Institute of Physiotherapy (AJIP), each having 30 seats. To get admission to this course, one has to sit for an entrance test.

''Physiotherapy is the system of treatment of disease and disability using physical exercises. It is the most important rehabilitative service needed in a community and a vital therapeutic supplement of the medical profession,'' said Dr Hemant Juneja, senior lecturer, AJIP.

To get an exposure to the profession, students need to assist physiotherapists for six days a week in the government and private hospitals in the third and fourth year of the course. They also need to do an internship in multi special government hospitals in the last six months.

''After completion of the course, which is considered equivalent to MBBS, students need to register with the Delhi Council of Physiotherapists, for practising in hospitals or setting up one's own clinic,'' said Dr Juneja.

The entrance test is based on the plus–two courses on physics, chemistry and mathematics. ''Students need to brush up on their lessons learnt in physics, chemistry and biology in plus–two. It is based on the pattern followed in the pre–medical test,'' said Dr Juneja.

Source: Times of India

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Braveheart student with polio, distance for admission

New Delhi: THOSE WHO commute daily by bus may look at a car as a luxury but for a few others like Mohammad Ragib Imam (19) from Nawada district in Bihar, even a bus ride is something beyond what his pocket permits.

Imam with polio of the limbs and is 85 per cent disability, pillion rides daily on a bicycle behind his elder brother Zafar Igbal (28) from Loni, Ghaziabad, to Delhi University looking to get admission in one of the best colleges of the country.

Having travelled all the way from Bihar, the two brothers are staying with their uncle Mohammad Asif, a watch–maker in Loni. "Coming from a very poor family, we do not even have money for bus travel but we had to find a way out," stated Zafar with determination.

"Our uncle gave us his bicycle, which was the answer to our problems. It is a long ride to and from the university in the scorching heat, taking us about three hours one way, but to achieve success without struggle would be wishful thinking," he added.

Zafar is a teacher at an elementary school in Bihar and has appeared for the Public Service Commission (PSC) exams there. Ragib, a witty person as described by his elder brother, had something to say too.

"My brother is helping me a lot but I feel I am helping him more. Cycling about 50 kilometres daily and then carrying me on his shoulders in the campus, has surely made him fit and athletic. The secret of his entry into the PSC would be me," he joked as the two brothers looked at each other and laughed.

Ragib has applied to Mathematics and Physics courses in most colleges in Delhi University but has his hopes rested on St. Stephen's and Hindu College.

Despite his father's coaxing and mother's sobbing to keep him from leaving home, Ragib has made up his mind and says there is no looking back.

"I may be 85% challenged but that is physically, I am very confident of my mental abilities. Sitting by my parents' side all my life with a feeling of inferiority would only render my mental capabilities useless," he says.

Source: Hindustan Times, Delhi Edition

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Braille–friendly EVMs in State polls this time

Ahmedabad, June 13: Electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Braille–signage features will be introduced for the first time in Gujarat in the Assembly elections to be held in December this year, to enable the visually–impaired voters to exercise their franchise without the help of others.

The state's election department has already acquired over 47,000 EVMs with Braille characters and despatched the same in all 26 districts of the state.

The EVMs with Braille–signage features, manufactured by the Bharat Electronics Limited, are almost identical to the old EVMs. The only difference is that the new EVMs have numerical figures embossed on right side of the candidates buttons, which would help the visually–impaired people in identifying the candidates.

The election department is, however, not aware of the number of visually–impaired voters in the state.

"We procured the new EVMs with Braille–signage features on directions of the Election

Commission of India to ensure that the visually–impaired people are able to use their right to vote without any hindrance," said a senior official in the department.

In another development, it has been decided that only the voters with electors photo identity cards (EPIC) would be allowed to cast votes in the Assembly elections this time, said Chief Election Officer (CEO) VK Babbar.

Asked if his department would be able to issue EPIC to all the registered voters before the elections, he said 80 per cent voters have already been covered and the work to issue EPIC to the rest was in progress in all districts.

"We are confident to cover about 95 per cent voters in the next two months," said Babbar. There are a total of 3.64 crore voters in Gujarat.

"After Goa, Gujarat will be the second state in the country to make EPIC compulsory for voting," said Babbar.

In the next Parliamentary elections, Babbar said, there will be photo electoral rolls in the state which would further reduce the chances of bogus voting.

Deputy Election Commissioner JP Prakash, meanwhile, held meetings with election officers in Ahmedabad, Kheda, Anand, Vadodara, Sabarkantha, Banaskantha, Mehsana, Patan, Rakot, Jamnagar, Junagadh and Porbandar districts on Wednesday and took stock of the electoral roll revision and issuing of EPIC to voters.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php

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Indraprastha College for Women new hostel will be disabled–friendly

New Delhi: The Indraprastha College for Women is all set to have a new hostel from next academic year. The new hostel will be disabled–friendly and equipped with amphitheatre, bank and a studio for mass communication.

''We want to make our girls comfortable in the hostel and give them the comfort of home. Moreover, we want to make this complex a small students activity centre where they can spend evenings after the classes,'' said Manasvini M Yogi, media co–ordinator of the college. The new hostel will have 140 rooms with 200 seats and will have s special accommodation facility for the guests of residents. ''Being associated with a large number of foreign universities, international students and faculty members keep visiting us. The new hostel will also have rooms for these guests,'' said Yogi.

The amphitheatre will have a big stage performances. It will also have seating arrangements. ''This will give enough space to our students to showcase their creative skills and practice a variety of co–curricular activities. We will also have a bank facility in the complex,'' said Yogi. Meanwhile, the college has built ramps all over the premises to facilitate movement of the physically disabled students from class rooms to library to canteen. They have recently developed a section of dictionaries and books in Braille for the visually impaired .

Source: Times of India

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Colleges struggle to fill the 3 per cent faculty seat for the disabled people

New Delhi, June 13, 2007: Just before the start of the new session, most colleges in Delhi University are scrambling for filling up their 3 per cent reserved quota in teaching posts for disabled people. There is a need for trained teachers, as colleges have introduced new courses but having failed to implement the 3 per cent disability quota for the faculty, most colleges are unable to hire permanent faculty.

Some like Gargi College are also bending rules to meet the target reservation. Meera Ramachandran, Principal said, "It will be the first time that there will be a male faculty as it goes against the very grain of the college but then we feel that every one should get an equally opportunity to work." Gargi is in the process of interviewing more people but still falls short of the required quota. Similarly, for Kamala Nehru College, though the infrastructure supports the physically disabled people, they are still to meet the requirements as prescribed by the law. "All new positions that we shall be soon advertising for under various disciplines shall be open to disabled people," said Minoti Chatterjee, Principal, KNC.

Ventakeshwara College has two physically disabled people teaching faculties in Math and Political Science department. They fall short of one person as per law but Principal A.S. Reddy said, "We uphold the constitutional provision that is provided to physically disabled peopleat Ventakeshwara. The newer posts that I am going to advertise for shall be open to disabled people ." Lady Shri Ram College has one visually impaired teacher in the Hindi department. Media Coordinator, Kanika Khandelwal said, "We have invited applications for Sociology, Political Science and Hindi and first priority shall be given to the disabled."

The infrastructure of Janki Devi Memorial College is not prepared to take in the physically disabled people. Principal Indu Anand said, "Starting this year not only will be have ramps for the disabled but come July we shall start conducting interviews for the intake of the physically disabled people faculty."

Hindu College Principal, Kavita Sharma said, "As per the provision we need to have three disabled faculty in a staff strength of 118. As soon as we start filling in faculty positions, the first priority shall be given to the them." Commited to the cause of the disabled, Miranda College Principal said, "So far we have one visually impaired teacher but we are committed to the mandate that requires the 3 per cent reservation so for newer positions as and when available shall be open to the disabled."

On April 3, this year the Delhi High Court put breaks on all fresh faculty appointments in colleges in Delhi University unless they filled up the 3 per cent quota that that the government reserves for the physically disabled people. Restraining all further permanent appointments, the Bench comprising Justice T.S. Thakur and S.N. Agarwal stated in the court order "We stay the process of selection and appointments so that the right of the disabled may not be defeated again."

The Disability Act was passed 15 years ago promising equal work opportunity to all the physically disabled people. Six years later, the 3 per cent reservation for the disabled was made mandatory but even years after the promises were made most colleges in Delhi University failed to implement the reservations of seats. The order stated "The colleges are defying the provisions of the Parliamentary legislation and judgment of this court."

What is unfortunate is that no amount of effort, petitions, laws have resulted in creating an equal opportunity status for the disabled. Though most colleges are making concerted efforts to fill in the quota, the target is far from being achieved.

As per the provision, we need to have three disabled faculty in a staff strength of 118. As soon as we start filling in faculty positions, the first priority shall be given to the them. Kavita Sharma, Principal, Hindu College

Source: www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp

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Programme for mentally disabled people

OFTEN, LACK of information about welfare programmes of the government results in the benefits not reaching the needy, more so in case of the mentally disabled people. Despite provisions in the constitution, issues relating to legal guardianship, special care centers, parents associations, ete are usually unheard of. Which is why the lot of the mentally disabled people is quite bad, even in comparison of those with a physical disability.

In view of the prevailing situation, recently an awareness programme was organised for the welfare of those affected by autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities at the office of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Revenue, North. The function was organised by the DC and the Local Level Committee (LLC), North District, Handicapped Children's Parents Association, NGOs that are members of the committee and Action for Ability Development and Inclusion (AADI), the state nodal agency for National Trust.

The function was aimed at sharing information about schemes and programmes of the departments concerned at the district level. "The Government has many schemes for the mentally disabled people. The objective of this function is to educate the masses about such progammes at the local level. The awareness programme was aimed at passing on the information about the local level committee, elicit participation of residents welfare associations and self help groups," averred K. K. Jindal, DC, Revenue North.

Four short films from the National Trust Film Festival, We Care, were also screened. Arrangements for the disability assessment and screening with the help of the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped were also made. Besides the Education Department and Social Welfare Department, about 40 Resident Welfare Associations, three market traders associations and four NGOs participated in the function.

Dr Vinod Kumar of the National Trust gave a discourse about the schemes. "If RWAs get involved in identifying such families in their respective localities, we will contact them and organise more such programmes," he said. RWA representatives, on their part, demanded that the mentally disabled people should also get equal benefits as availed by physically disabled. The North Delhi Residents Federation assured that they would soon be starting a registration drive for such persons in the entire district.

Source: Hindustan Times, Delhi Edition

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Bound by heritage: St. Stephen's will not construct ramps for disabled people

St. Stephen's will not construct ramps for disabled since it has a heritage structure; But we'll help, say authorities

Steps at the St. Stephen College entrance, Delhi
New Delhi: AT A time when most Delhi University (DU) colleges are making structural changes in their buildings to make the environs disabled–friendly St. Stephen's has decided against construction of ramps for wheelchair user students. Authorities say no external construction of any kind is possible in St. Stephen's since it is a heritage building. St. Stephen's is one of the three colleges that constituted Delhi University in 1922, the formation year.

But there's no need to worry Vinod Choudhury Media Advisor, St. Stephen's, said: "We are a very student friendly college and the good samaritan in us makes us want to help students ascend stairs whenever they need help. We have had a lot of students in the past who were wheelchair user. And students have always volunteered to help, without being instructed." A.D Mathur, Convener of Admissions, said: "There are several issues with constructing ramps, the technical specifications like low roofs and old pillars are some limitations which we cannot overlook." On ambilift, he said, "That is way too expensive and we haven't given that option a thought."

The college also does not have a specific quota for disabled people, unlike most DU colleges who are bound to reserve three per cent seats for disabled people. "We go beyond the quota, don't limit ourselves to the written word," said Mathur.

Choudhury said, "Ours would be the only college to accommodate 18 visually impaired students in a total strength, which is less than 1,000." He cited the case of Manoj Rawal, a wheelchair user student who comes from a poor family in Haryana. "He is a typical example of the fact that the college not only admits physically disabled students but is also sympathetic towards their needs."

Source: Hindustan Times, Delhi Edition

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Chennai: IT Companies Open Doors for Visually–Impaired

Chennai, Jun 12: IBM, Mphasis, Infosys–BPO, SAP India and Adithi Technologies are some of the companies which have started inducting the visually–impaired.

As part of their special responsibilities, Information Technology industry in India is slowly opening its eyes towards the visually–impaired by offering them jobs, training and even taking up infrastructural modifications to accommodate them.

IBM, Mphasis, Infosys–BPO, SAP India and Adithi Technologies are some of the companies which have started inducting the visually–impaired.

According to Shanthi Raghavan, founder of Bangalore–based EnAble India, an organisation working for disabled people, "the industry is opening up for the visually–impaired, though the pace is slow".

Industry major IBM, in association with EnAble India, had recently conducted a three–week training programme in Bangalore for teachers of the visually impaired on the right computer teaching techniques to address the IT skills of their students. "It was for the first time that an IT company in India has come up with such an initiative for the visually impaired," said Raghavan.

As many as 15 teachers from different institutions across the country underwent the training and this in turn is expected to help some 500–1000 students, said Raghavan. Further, it should enhance the employability of at least 450 people this year. According to Anitha Guha, India Diversity Leader, IBM, the organisation had been undertaking several initiatives to increase visibility and access of disabled people at workplace. But a serious bottleneck in this pursuit was finding qualified hands.

"The training programme is expected to bridge the gap between the companies and these talents with the help of the teachers who could groom them as per the requirements of the industry," said Guha.

The course provided training on JAWS (PC with screen reader), general teaching techniques and specific teaching techniques for the blind, industry orientation and usage of right resource aids. The trainers were equipped with a curriculum that they can follow at their respective institutions, said Raghavan

Teachers were also given resource aids and material, including essential tactile diagrams, audio compact discs with training instructions, practical exercises, voice–enabled software.

As part of the programme, the teachers visited the IBM office in Bangalore and interacted with the disabled people employees as well as the recruiting officials to have a first hand knowledge about the needs of the industry. The companies, under their social–inclusiveness initiatives, also have brought about physical modifications at the workplace such as ramps, braille signs in elevators and doors, besides technology tools like voice recognition software and HomePage reader to enable the visually impaired perform all their works easily.

"In India, all our new locations are equipped with the standard requirements for people with disabilities and we are upgrading our older facilities to conform to the same standards", said Guha.

Infosys–BPO, which has over hundred disabed persons, including visually impaired, in its pay roll, also has changed their lay–out into a disabled–friendly one. According to sources in the company, the disabled are provided transportation facilities and special training in computer applications. According to Guha, each visually impaired person is entrusted with a colleague who will help him out in an emergency situation like a fire alarm. The company also holds round–table conferences to "understand and address their unique concerns"

The organisations working for the disabled also have played a key role in sensitising the companies to the needs of the disabled. Moreover, they act as intermediaries between both the parties.

According to 2001 census, of the 2.19 crore people with disabilities in India, only 34 per cent are employed, said Raghavan."It's a long way to go as far as the visually impaired are concerned. Whatever has been done is not enough, though it is a right start," said Raghavan.

Source: www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp

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Court asks State to conduct special drive to recruit disabled people as teachers

BANGALORE: In a major relief to the physically disabled people, the Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the State to conduct within four months a special drive to recruit 142 physically disabled people to the posts of primary school teacher.

High Court of Karnataka
The court, however, did not disturb the 4,676 teachers already recruited for 2005–06 and working in schools since January 2007.

In its order, a Division Bench comprising Justice Chidanand Ullal and Justice Ashok B. Hinchigeri dismissed an appeal by the State against a December 20, 2006 order of a single judge directing the Government to redo the reservation of posts of primary teacher and reserve five per cent of the posts to physically disabled people.

The Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities had in 2005 allowed an application by Nagaveni M.C., of Malur, Kolar district, and directed the State to provide for reservation to disabled people.

An orthopaedic disabled person, Ms. Nagaveni, said that the State failed to reserve seats in the September 3, 2005 notification calling for applications for the posts of teacher.

She said the Government had invited applications for the posts of primary school teacher in 42 educational districts. However, adequate number of posts had not been reserved for persons with disabilities though there was an earlier Government order reserving five per cent of the seats. The State had petitioned the Karnataka High Court against the order. The single judge had dismissed the petition and directed the departments of Primary and Secondary Education, the Personnel and Administrative Reforms and Public Instruction to withhold the recruitment of 4,676 primary school teachers in the State and also redo entire reservation process, providing the required percentage of reservation (5 per cent) to persons with disability.

In its appeal, the State said it had issued an order on July 20, 2005 for recruitment to 4,767 posts of primary school teacher.

The selection of candidates would be made as per the Karnataka Education Service (Recruitment) Annexure Rules, 2001. This, it said, had been upheld by the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) and subsequently by the High Court.

The Government advocate, C.S. Patil, said the recruitment had already been completed and the teachers appointed. He urged the Bench to set aside the single judge order.

The Bench, which concurred with the single judge order, observed that the main intention of the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act was to aid and come to the rescue of disabled people and to provide them effective, meaningful and urgent remedies for their rehabilitation and support.

Source: www.hindu.com/2007/06/08/stories/2007060814370500.htm

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Delhi University: Tough going for disabled students

New Delhi, June 10, Aasheesh Sharma: With admissions open at colleges across India, it is perhaps time to spare a thought for physically disabled students.

Many of them have decided to give up their dream of attending college because of the disabled–unfriendly design and architecture of most Indian campuses.

While some colleges are trying to turn things around, most are still a long way from being disabled–friendly. Disability doesn't daunt Joginder Saluja, but the inaccessibility of the campus that fetters his spirit. A second year student of BA at Delhi University's Khalsa College, Saluja represents Delhi in power lifting.

''Climbing stairs with crutches is tough. Being a power lifter, I can lift my body weight easily. Other disabled students pant after every two steps,'' says Saluja.

Polio person now counsels other physically disabled students seeking admission in Delhi University. But not many are coming forward.

In 2006, of the 1,000 reserved seats, only 350 were filled. For physically disabled students, the biggest battles are fought in the mind.

DU aspirant: Rijul Kochhar, a Doon School alumnus, has scored 89 per cent in the Boards. A couple of years ago after an accident in the swimming pool, Rijul lost movement of all limbs and sensation below the neck.

The DU aspirant is confident about obtaining a literature degree and specialising in international relations after graduation. ''I am very interested in the ways in which a country relates to another country or the way in which it interacts with its neighbours.

''The saga of socio–economic problems or the ways in which people interact with another set of people from the same culture and those who speak the same language,'' says Rijul. Sensitivity towards improving the built environment first came to the notice of Delhi University when the Election Commission made temporary ramps for disabled voters in the last general elections. In the past few years, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has woken up to the need for enhancing access for disabled people.

Under the Ninth Plan, the commission has begun funding colleges to make accessible classrooms, washrooms and laboratories.
The Kamala Nehru College has received Rs 2 lakh for building ramps and accessible toilets.
St Xavier's in Mumbai, which has received a Rs 5 lakh grant, is planning to build ramps and construct wheelchair–friendly toilets.

''Access audits are on. So money is not a problem,'' said Komal Kamra, Reader, GTB Khalsa College.

Ideal access: Chapter 8 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, talks about the responsibilities of the government for providing ideal access.

It includes:

But some feel much more needs to be done.

''Two ramps and one washroom does not make a campus disabled–friendly. As a society, we are yet to become more conscious of the needs of the disabled,'' maintained Soumitra Choudhury, Reader, Shri Ram College of Commerce.

Source: www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx

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Deaf Youth Battles all odds to Play Lead in Film

Bangalore: A deaf boy as a film hero? Implausible, but true. For the first time in India's 94–year–old film history, it's happening in a Kannada film.

The 25–year–old Dhruv hero of forthcoming Kannada movie Snehanjali was born with a speech–andhearing impairment. Yet, in a heartwarming and an inspirational event, he has pulled off the unimaginable feat of acting on screen in the lead role. He has lip–synched dialogues and songs, to the extent that no viewer realises that he has never spoken nor heard a sound in his entire life.

Born and brought up in Bangalore, Dhruv is the second son of businessman–actor Suresh Sharma. Dhruv's story is of a fight against all odds. He was pulled out of college after PUC as he was finding it difficult to follow the lectures. But what made him sparkle was his self–confidence to achieve. He did a few computer courses and also put his heart into cricket. He represented India in the Deaf Cricket World Cup in 2005.

However, his interest in acting began one–anda–half year ago when he accompanied his father to a dubbing studio. Dhruv was awestruck by the fact that voices actually have to be dubbed for the screen and are not recorded at the place of shooting. "If lip–synching is all that one has to do to go on screen, I thought 'Why shouldn't I do it?" Dhruv told STOI through sign language. There were not many takers, including his father Suresh, for his idea. "I brushed it off terming it a joke. I kept discouraging him, but he insisted he could do it. My friend, film producer Siddaramu, was struck by Dhruv's logic and told me, 'Your son is handsome, he can make a good hero. Why don't we try?''' Suresh said.

The star cast, including veteran Anant Nag and heroine Anju Varma, was astounded when they learnt about his impairment. The only other disabled actor Kannada film industry had seen was the late Balakrishna?he had hearing problem.

Dhruv said: "On the first day of the shooting, I was scared. But gradually things started falling in place and co–stars began to accept the reality. My father used to explain me the scene the previous night and I would prepare myself for the next day."

The cast and crew have two reasons to admire him: his power to understand what others speak and his sense of timing in dialogue–delivery.

Dhruv has performed a few breathtaking stunts himself. The movie, which runs on the love track, is slated for release this month–end.

Source: Times of India, 10 Jun, 2007

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Physically disabled face education woes

" We have three per cent reserved seats. So they can't deny. After all are also human beings, we also want to study and be a part of society. " Urvi Pithadia, physically disabled student

Mumbai, June 10, Miloni Bhatt: Being physically disabled person is a big barrier for those seeking higher education in the country, especially higher mainstream education.

While the University Grants Commission has made it mandatory for colleges to make their infrastructure more disabled–friendly, in Mumbai 50 per cent of the colleges don't make the bar.

Seventeen–year–old Urvi Pithadia, who dreamt of being a media professional or a lawyer. But she took up learning animation at home after she was forced to quit college just five days after she joined. For her, it was a compromise career.

Urvi has muscular Dystrophy, a disorder where muscles weaken over time. She can't walk and is dependent on her wheel chair.

The college she went to, did not have any facilities for students like her. No access ramp, no toilets that she could use and class rooms on different floors. So she was forced to drop out.

For a girl who topped in Class X in a regular school, made it to the state merit list and won this trophy for top marks, it was frustrating.

''We complained about the lift. They said this is what we have. If you can't cope, go home. We have three per cent reserved seats. So they can't deny. After all are also human beings, we also want to study and be a part of society,'' said Urvi Pithadia, physically disabled student.

Making an effort

Every year, physically disabled students like Urvi have to drop out of college and sign up for distance education programmes. Or worse, give up education all together.

Because a shocking 50 per cent of city colleges are not disabled friendly, a fact even the University admits.

''Some colleges have old buildings, so it's difficult to make changes in them,'' said Dr M Welling, Principal, NM College. Even though students like Urvi form a part of the three per cent quota in colleges, which include widows, destitutes, grand children of freedom fighters, the rules say that colleges should ensure that college infrastructure must support the disabled.

But most colleges don't even have a ramp for people on wheelchairs to use. ''They give many excuses. Why do you want to come to college? Why do you want to come to this college? We have no money etc,'' said Jagtiani, Member, ADAPT. But some colleges are making an effort. Like NM College of Commerce, which has ramps at elevator entrances so students on wheelchairs can attend lectures on different floors.

Even Sathaye College is building a ramp and has a special toilet for the handicapped. But even these colleges admit they could do much more. ''We are not doing enough,'' said Kavita Rege, Principal, Sathaye College.

Colleges like Sathaye and NM are making an attempt, making their college more disabled friendly.

But still when it comes to higher education, the physically disabled still have limited choices. Integrating into mainstream education for students like Urvi still remains a dream.

For disabled students in Delhi University:
There's three per cent reservation for physically disabled candidates
Reservation is available only to candidates with minimum 40 per cent disability
Registrations at the office of the Dean, Students' Welfare (Main Campus) from June 1 to June 15
Registrations from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Applicants need to submit a Certificate of physical disability issued by a notified Medical Board of a District/government Hospital.
The percentage of disability should be indicated on the certificate
The candidate should have a photograph signed by the doctors in the Medical Board that issued the certificate
The candidate also has to appear before the Delhi University's Medical Board
You can get your applications from the Office of the Dean, Students Welfare

Source: www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx

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Visually disabled boy tops Arts

Mumbai: While topping HSC in the Arts stream across the Mumbai region is no mean feat, it would be even tougher for someone who is partially visually disabled . Yet, St Xavier's College student Ajay Krishna Kumar managed to pull it off by scoring a whopping 86.83%.

With only 25% vision, reading isn't easy for him; although he had a reader for the HSC, he eventually wrote his own papers. Ajay scored a phenomenal 97% in mathematics.

Ajay says the conducive atmosphere at college helped him get what he wanted out of life. He's especially thankful for all the encouragement he received from Dr Sam Taraporevala, the director of the Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), who is himself a visually challenged degree college professor at St Xavier's.

"Ajay has proved that he's second to no one, especially since he has topped in the general category,'' said a delighted Taraporevala. "Ajay participated in a lot of activities at the XRCVC. He has often dropped in at the centre to share his ideas,'' adds Taraporevala.

An albino since birth, Ajay does not have the melanin pigment in his skin; in his case, this has also resulted in partial blindness. "I used special glasses called monocles to see the blackboard, and I have special reading glasses as well,'' he said.

At the XRCVC, he also has access to computers with a software called Magic that enlarges the entire screen.

"When he was born, we didn't have any information about his condition. There was no internet at the time,'' say his mother, who devised novel methods to teach him, along with his school teachers, through trial and error. While in kindergarten, Ajay used to find it difficult to write in a straight line, she recalls; his letters would be scattered across the page.

It's not just studies that Ajay is good at. An accomplished singer, he also loves playing the violin. While he stood second in the handicapped category in Class X, this time he has excelled himself to top in the general category.

Source: Times of India, 9 Jun, 2007

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Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR) to turn barrier–free

New Delhi: After Ramjas college replacing blackboards with LCD projectors, Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR) is all set to introduce the same in the psychology laboratories. The college is also giving a makeover to its library and laboratories besides making the campus more disabled–friendly.

Lady Shri Ram College for Women Logo
Multimedia and power point presentations will now make reading minds more interesting in the psychology class. ''We will get access to e–resources and make reading more interesting. For studying brain and its behavioural functions, it is extremely important to make live presentations which will be possible with the aid of the LCD projector and power point presentations. Our efforts will be to make demonstration and dissection of diagrams clearer for a better understanding,'' said Kanika Khandelawal, media co–ordinator.

She added: ''Pyschology can be more application based with adequate visual effects. The practical class will now be more attractive with these recent changes like whiteboards replacing blackboards and new computer laboratories having eight new workstations with new flatscreen computers.''

The laboratories has also got a physical renovation with new flooring and attractive colour coding on the walls. ''The walls will be painted with pastel shades giving a cool effect in summers as students need to spend long hours in the laboratory. Even the cupboards and curtains would be given a new look,'' said Khandelwal.

The college library will also have a new flooring, new issue counter and new counter for students to keep their belonging before entering library.

To make the campus more disabled – friendly, ramps have been built from the main gate to the classrooms and at the administrative block. ''This will help physically–challenged students have greater access to the college offices for paying fees, collection of identity cards and other administrative work,'' said Khandelwal.

Source: Times of India, 9 Jun, 2007

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NDMC to revamp public toilet system

New Delhi: Keeping the Commonwealth Games in mind, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) is all set to revamp a number of public convenience centres and make them more accessible for people with limited mobility. NDMC has roped in an NGO Svayam to conduct a survey and prepare an audit report based on the same. A total of 94 public convenience centres have been identified for the first phase of work.

Out of these, Svayam has already surveyed 34 of the centres and will examine the remaining in the coming weeks. Said Sminu Jindal, founder of Svayam: ''We wanted to make these public toilets universally accessible not just for disabled people but even for people with arthritis, senior citizens or pregnant women.''

A comprehensive blueprint is being prepapred by the NGO on what all changes are required and how the existing centres need to be modified to make it more approachable. TNN

Source: Times of India, 9 Jun, 2007

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Launch pad for special teachers

New Delhi: Each day lakhs of children go to school, all with different strengths and weaknesses, abilities and disabilities. Many of them are identified with a specific disability like autism, cerebral palsy, mental disability or learning disability, which necessitates some kind of special instruction. In order to address their special needs, schools rely upon people specially trained to help them ? special education teachers.

From this year, Delhi University has launched a B Ed course in special Education for mental disability to produce more such teachers who are better equipped to handle mentally disabled children. The one–year course, offered by Lady Irwin College, will teach aspiring teachers to recognise and deal with the special needs of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and autism.

This is the first time that such a course has been introduced in any Central university of north India. Says Neelima Asthana, lecturer, Lady Irwin College: ''Inclusive education is the need of the hour. To achieve this goal, we need properly trained teachers who do not treat this merely as a job. They should be sympathetic to the needs of the kids and help them overcome hurdles.''

This course, recognised by Rehabilitation Council of India, would focus on skills required to be polite, attentive and respectful during all group and classroom activities. ''This will cover issues like how to divide tasks into small steps so as to avoid overwhelming the individual. It will also focus on how to provide a conducive environment with the help of visual aids such as charts, pictures and graphs'' said Asthana.

So if you're BA or BSc degree–holder and look forward to a career that will help you make a positive difference in the lives of kids with disabilities, you can apply for this course. The forms are available at the college from 9 am to 4 pm. The last date for submission of forms is June 20.

Source: Times of India, 7 Jun, 2007

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New International Building Code, Eliminates Requirements for Disabled in Existing Apartments Undergoing Alterations

Jackson Heights, NY – The 2007 Supplement of the International Building Code (IBC) will no longer require apartments undergoing alterations to provide adaptability features to accommodate people with disabilities.

Under previous editions of the IBC, an alteration to more than 20 units in an existing building would trigger a requirement for two percent of the units to be provided with basic adaptability features.

A proposal (G 206) submitted during the International Code Council's (ICC) fall hearings in Orlando, Florida led to the elimination of the IBC's requirement to provide important adaptability features in existing apartments undergoing alterations. The Bench said both sides suggested the appointment of a commission headed by Mr Justice Sivasubramaniam, who retired from Madras High Court, to ascertain the truth.

Staff from the U.S. Access Board, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the United Spinal Association, were unsuccessful in a bid to have an alternative proposal requiring minimal adaptability requirements in existing apartments revisited during the ICC's hearings in Rochester, NY on May 24, 2007.

The National Association of Home Builders and The National Multi–Housing Council provided testimony against the proposal asking for minimal adaptability requirements, citing the additional costs and space that would be necessary to comply.

"If 21 units were being renovated, the code would only require one to be adaptable–they even took that away from us," said Joe Reich from the NYS Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities who also provided testimony on an alternate proposal designed to introduce the minimum requirements of the Fair Housing Amendments Act to existing buildings.

"It is unconscionable that this insignificant number of dwelling units required to accommodate people with disabilities was eliminated," United Spinal Association's President Paul Tobin said. "The very difficult task of finding usable housing for our members, who are veterans and other individuals with spinal–cord injury and disease, just became that much harder."

Accessibility Services is a vital part of United Spinal's commitment to guaranteeing the civil rights of individuals living with spinal cord injuries and disorders. United Spinal helped write the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 and the Fair Housing Amendments Act; and are consistently active in writing building codes at the local, state and federal level. It is also credited for helping to make New York City, the largest city in the country, provide fully accessible buses and subways and cut every curb in all five boroughs to allow wheelchair access–an achievement that inspired dozens of other municipalities to follow suit.

For More Information, Contact:
Dominic Marinelli

Source: www.aapd.com/News/housing/070601usa.htm

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HC orders probe into visually impaired lawyer assault case

Chennai, June 7: Madras High Court today appointed a Commission headed by retired Judge K P Sivasubramaniam to probe into the alleged police brutality on a vision–impaired advocate on December 14, 2006 at Coimbatore.

Madras High Court
In its order, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Mr Justice P Jyothimani, also directed the commission to submit its report in two months and posted to August 13 further hearing of the petitions filed by Coimbatore Bar Association (CBA) and Advocate A S Mohamed Rafi seeking judicial probe by a retired judge into the alleged assault besides compensation of Rs ten lakh.

The government pleader said the state government and police would fully co–operate with the commission and produce all relevant records besides providing office premises and other facilities in Coimbatore. The expenditure will be borne by the state government, the Bench said.

In their petitions, the CBA and Mr Rafi submitted on December 14, 2006, the advocate bumped into a woman constable while crossing the road to catch a bus at Gandhipuram Bus Stand at 2115 hrs.

Ms Sathyabanu abused him in filthy language and slapped him on his face and body repeatedly. Five more constables joined her in the assault and dragged him to the All Women Police Station where he was brutally mandhandled.

Later, he was taken to Kattur Police Station, where constable Jai Shankar attacked him. He was severely injured. Later his senior advocate came to the spot and took him to a Government Hospital.

As he was not given proper treatment there, he was shifted to a private hospital. Meanwhile, the police registered a complaint given by Ms Sathyabanu.

However, the advocate's complaint was registered after a long delay. Then the police referred the matter to an RDO enquiry, which they claimed, may not bring out the truth. Hence the present petition for a judicial probe

Source: www.newkerala.com/news5.php

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Forum assists disabled people in employment

NOVEL INITIATIVE: `You and the Disabled', an organisation formed by disabled people, their parents and professionals in Coimbatore, assists disabled people in finding jobs, Anasuya Menon

COIMBATORE: For disabled people in the city, there finally seems to be a glimmer of hope in terms of finding a job. A network has been formed, which seeks to build a bridge between them and the employers seeking manpower.

Persons with disabilities, their parents, voluntary organisations and professionals in the corporate sector have now joined hands to form the UDIS Forum', (coined from 'You and the Disabled'), which identifies jobs for persons with disabilities and assists them in it.

More than 300 persons with disabilities have registered with the network already, says M.N.G. Mani, President of the Network and Secretary General of the International Council for Education of Persons with Visual Impairment. Among them, 82 have already been placed as accountants, administrative officers and computer operators in various companies.

The most recent one was an orthopaedically disabled girl, who was placed in the administrative department in Infosys in Bangalore, Mr. Mani says. The network is slowly growing with more and more individuals with disabilities joining in. In collaboration with the District Employment Exchange, the network prepares profiles of the persons registered with it, the employment exchange and also those who have not registered with either.

After ascertaining the skills of the applicants, the representatives of the forum get in touch with employment exchanges to plan out placement services. Industrial houses, which show interest in employing persons with disabilities, are also contacted. "The Government has allotted three per cent employment reservation for disabled people. But, this is rarely implemented," says K. Sankararaman, vice–president of Saarathy Pammac, an association of parents of persons with mental and physical disabilities.

The forum also arranges for specific skill training programmes for those registered with it. "We also plan to contact individuals with disabilities in different regions of the district who have aptitude and ability to create employment opportunities to strengthen services locally," Mr. Mani says. It also helps persons with disabilities and self–help groups formed by them to obtain loans from banks. Those who wish to work as volunteers or register with the forum can contact: Senior Executive, UDIS Forum Employment Guidance Centre, at 93454 07275, 94437 25925, 98945 95351 or E–mail: udisforum@vsnl.net.

Source: www.hindu.com/2007/06/08/stories/2007060815630100.htm

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Special needs students face problems

New Delhi: For Manish, getting an admission is an uphill task. The 17–year–old student has applied under the disability quota but he has to first go through a maze of formalities.

Every step is a challenge and a complete absence of sensitivity just makes it worse.

Their struggle for equal footing in college begins when they have to go for medical examinations on the first floor of the health care centre in Delhi University (DU).

''I went to Rajdhani College where I was asked to go to the Dean Students Welfare office. There I was recommended to come to this place for a medical examination,'' said Manish, Student. Students applying for admission under the disability quota have to go through a scrutiny by a panel of doctors who verify their medical records.

''The student should have a certificate of any govt approved body, the certificate of his disability and we verify the percentage of the disablity,'' said Dr Goswami, CMO , Delhi University Healthcare Centre.

The panel includes an orthopaedic specialist, an ophthalmologist, an ENT specialist, a psychiatrist and also a representative of the university.

But at the health care centre as the students wait for their turn, the total chaos is enough to unnerve anyone. There is no help for these students and no trace of the guidance that Delhi university is usually known for.

The lack of sensitivity was evident when a hearing–impaired student like Karishma felt completely lost on realising that there was only a verbal roll call. Karishma's parents are also hearing impaired, so the family tried to grasp as much as they could by just looking around.

''They called out but we cannot hear. They called out for number 33, later they came, waved violently, nudged us, took our daughter and she finally went in,'' said Karishma's mother.

While the medical scrutiny is just a formality, it's hard to miss the competitiveness in the air. There is three percent quota but it's not enough, those who have higher marks than me will be automatically given prefernce,'' said Neha, Student.

It's sheer spirit that sees them through the tough procedure but once they are through, it is an entirely different battle – one for a more disabled friendly environment.

Source: www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx

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Kamala Nehru College plans disabled–friendly campus

Ramps, disabled–friendly toilets, recording studio for visually Impaired planned, Anannya Bohidar

New Delhi, June 6: Before the new academic year begins, the Kamala Nehru College in Delhi University's South Campus is working on developing a slew of facilities to make the college disabled–friendly. In the pipeline are a recording studio for the visually–impaired, disabled–friendly toilets and ramps and ambi–lifts on campus. The college has already received grants worth Rs 2 lakh from the University Grants Commission for building ramps and disabled–friendly toilets.

Kamala Nehru College, Delhi
While ramps and toilets will be installed before the new session begins, recording studio for the visually–impaired will be installed shortly after that.

The disabled–friendly toilets that are being planned will have facilities such as slip resistant floors, lever door handles, elevated toilet seats, water jetix and grab bars.

"I always had this in my mind, to have a disabled friendly campus. And when I came across such toilets where a disabled can not only move, but shift him or herself to the toilet seats with such great ease, this idea motivated me to execute such facilities," said principal Dr Minoti Chatterjee.

Chatterjee said a disabled–friendly campus would attract more students to the college. She further added that they had already requested for grants to build ambi–lifts for the physically–challenged so that they could have access to classrooms on all floors without any problems.

The college is also taking measures to renovate the college auditorium with ramps along the entrances so that disabled pupil can join their fellow college students during celebrations.

"These infrastructures are being constructed to invite more such students to come here and study. It's time colleges realised the need for such campuses," said the principal.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php

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PM sanctions Rs 1 lakh assistance to Varanasi physically disabled girl

New Delhi, June 5 : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has granted assistance of one lakh rupees to a physically disabled girl of Varanasi so that she can continue with her studies.

Rani Verma of Dallipur Village, Badagaav, Varanasi lost both her hands in an accident when she was studying in the fifth standard. Despite the severe handicap, she continued her education and the 14–year–old has appeared in the matriculation exam using her feet to write the exams.

Moved by her courage and determination to beat all odds, Singh sanctioned the amount from the Prime Minister's Discretionary Fund as financial assistance to Rani.

The amount of rupees one lakh is to be deposited as a fixed deposit in the name of her father Ramesh Chandra Verma. The monthly interest may be withdrawn by the father for her the educational expenses.

The principal amount of rupees one lakh will be given to Rani on her attaining 18 years of age.

Source: www.newkerala.com/news5.php

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Designer inspired by Paralympic athletes

A designer was inspired by physically disabled athletes when he created the pictograms for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games pictograms
The 20 logos were unveiled at a press conference Wednesday held by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), which coincided with the Month for Publicity for the 17th National Help–the–Disabled Day.

Hang Hai is an associate professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and chief designer of the Beijing 2008 Paralympics Games Pictograms.

"Before, I didn't know anything about the Paralympics. But as I got to know some physically disabled athletes and their stories, I was moved many times," he explained. "So I just tried to convey the dynamics of their body movements through the pictograms," said Hang.

Following the design styles of the pictograms of the Beijing Olympic Games, the Paralympics Pictograms use the Chinese seal script as their basic form while incorporating the pictographic elements of oracle bone writing (jia gu wen, dating back from 14th century B.C.) and the bronze–ware script (jin wen) with the individual event.

The logo for wheelchair basketball features a stick figure seated in a wheelchair while getting ready to shoot the basketball.

Hang explained they chose the seal script as the basic from because it is graceful and liquid, which embodies Chinese traditional aesthetics. "The pictogram is a good combination of body movement and rich cultural connotation," Hang said.

"Pictograms must be easy to recognize even without captions, so we incorporated the charm of oracle bone writing," Hang told Chinadaily.com.cn. When asked if he had considered other Chinese writing styles, Hang replied the other scripts would have been too complex to modify into a pictogram.

Source: www.chinadaily.com.cn/2008/2007–05/23/content_879034.htm

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Polio: Indian Govt. calls meeting of Health ministers on polio

With 60 polio cases reported in India so far this year, the Indian Govt. has called a meeting of health ministers of 10 high–risk states next week to review the situation and chalk out future plans to eradicate the virus from the nation. Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss will discuss the polio situation with the health ministers of 10 states, which have been reporting the cases for the past two years, on June six.

Pulse Polio drops to a child during the Pulse Polio Campaign
"The minister will be reviewing the situation in the country. So far, 60 polio cases have been reported. In the meeting, the future course of action will be discussed too," said an official of the National Pulse Polio Programme.

Health Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will also update the ministry about the steps they have taken and how the Centre could further help them.

Out of the 60 cases reported this year, 36 cases were reported in UP, 15 in Bihar, three in Uttarakhand, two in Andhra Pradesh and one each in Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Last year, 674 polio cases were reported, while in 2005, 66 cases were reported. The rising polio cases continue to show the country in poor light as it stands only next to Nigeria in the number of cases reported across the world this year till April 17, the official said.

"A total of 111 polio cases were reported globally this year till April 17. Out of which 54 cases were reported from Nigeria, while we registered 31 cases," he told PTI

Source: www.spiritindia.com

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Hearing impaired youths stage drama to get sponsors

Vadodara, June 4: WHEN their disability could not help them, they decided to enact a drama by showing sign language. The purpose was to create awareness about the need of a common platform that could pool resources for their well–being.

On Monday evening, Sayajibaug Amphitheatre in the city witnessed a drama. Those who acted in it were hearing–impaired youths. The drama aimed at sensitising Barodians with the hardships people with poor hearing ability face and with the aspirations these people possess.

It also aimed at seeking financial assistance for two such youths who wanted to attend the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) at Madrid in Spain during July 16–July 22.

The theme of the drama conveyed the urgent need of having a common dais between the State government, general public and the physically disabled people, the ones who need support to advance in life.

According to Digant Dani of Mook Badhir Mandal, they have planned to send three delegates Rajesh Ketkar, Virbhadrasinh Rathod and Kavita Thakkar (interpreter) to WFD. The meet will see participation by 127 national associations from five continents and will discuss in depth the interests of more than 74 million deaf people worldwide. Mandal president Pratapsinh Rathod said that, his 34–year–old son Virbhadrasinh was the captain of the State's Hearing Impaired Gujarat Cricket Team and 32–year–old Rajesh was into business. "They want to go to WDF and share ideas with the representatives from other countries who use various technologies for upgrading their skills,'' said Rathod.

"They approached government officials in Gandhinagar. We received a recommendation letter from State Disability Commissioner, Bhasker Mehta, for seeking help from NGOs and corporates,'' said Rathod, adding that Mehta had assured them of help on getting financial assistance from government but that did not work out.

Thakkar, the interpreter, said that Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited (GACL) had donated Rs 75,000 and United Way of Baroda (UWB) Rs 25,000. "We need more than Rs 3.5 lakh to participate in WFD,'' she said.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php

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Special kids have fun in a special way

Over 20 mentally disabled children of Army personnel are learning to sing and dance with a trainer from Shiamak Davar's troupe.

It's noteveryday that children of Army personnel get an opportunity to learn dancing steps from some of the best professionals in the country And it is certainly out of the ordinary when some of these children are the 'special ones, kids mentally disabled, who get to try out their moves with a trainer from famous dancer Shiamak Davar's troupe.

For the next two weeks, around 20 odd children with various mental disabilities will go through the song and dance routine with trainer Kamal.

The trainer's caring approach coupled with proper arrangements to look after these children while they undertake the dance classes will ensure that they even put up a performance at a cultural function in Panchkula on June 12 where Shiamak too will be present.

The dance workshop has been planned by the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) at Chandimandir. The association also runs Asha School for mentally–disabled children of Army personnel of all ranks.

That the children are having loads of fun is evident when they clap gleefully along with the trainer and jump and move at his commands.

As per Col Upinder Raina, a Staff Officer with AWWA, this workshop is being held in conjunction with the regular workshop for other children.

Here too, children of Army officers and jawans sing and dance to the steps dictated by Kamal and enjoy every moment of it. Around 55 children were dancing today in the workshop and an overwhelming majority of these were girls.

The workshop is an obvious hit with the children and parents and several mothers could be seen requesting the trainer to include their ward too for the sessions.

Col Raina informs that AWWA is going to introduce these dance classes for the jawans in uniform too. "The local brigade headquarters have been informed that they should enlist the jawans who wish to learn dancing and the first such class will be held on Sunday he says.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Punjab Govt extends free bus travel to visually impaired

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Punjab Minister for Social Security, Women and Child Development Swarna Ram said that Punjab government would provide free bus facility to all visually impaired persons in government and private buses.

After presiding over the sixth state level delegation session of Handicapped Association, Punjab held at Bachat Bhawan here on Sunday, the minister said physically disabled persons will pay half fare while traveling in buses. He said that the state government is considering tax free purchase of vehicles by disabled persons and hike in pension . He said that all these issues and other important issues would be taken up in coming session of Punjab Assembly.

He said that PUDA has laid down 3 per cent quota in the allotment of plots and flats for disabled person. He said that grants–in–aid is being given by the state government to 38 NGOs and Centre Government to the 34 NGOs, which are working for welfare of disabled persons to continue their activities.

He said that a Braille Press has been established at the cost of Rs 256. 73 lakh to provide books in Braille script to the blind children free of cost at Jamalpur, Ludhiana. He said that the department is also running special schools for mentally challenged children at Kapurthala, Bathinda, Jamalmpur (Ludhiana) and Hoshiarpur

He said that the Department of Census had conducted survey in 2001 and as per their report, a total of 4, 24,523 persons with disabilities have identified in Punjab and the government is making their best efforts to provide them maximum facilities.

He said that unemployment allowance is being given by the Department of Labour and Employment , Punjab at the rate of Rs 400 and Rs 300 per month to graduate/post graduate and matriculates/under graduate, blind , deaf and dumb persons respectively. He said that conveyance allowance to disabled persons at the rate of 5 per cent of their salaries subject to maximum of Rs 250 per month is being given by the government. He announced a grant of Rs.2 lakh for the Association.

Lilly Chaudhry, Deputy Director of Social Security Department said that presently there are 92,600 handicapped persons which are getting various types of pensions.

Balwant Singh Dardi, president of the Association, Sukhinder Singh Patron of the Association, Dharmpal Rao, District president BJP, social workers Anil Suraj, and Ran Singh Kalsi also expressed their views.

Source: www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/4370/38/

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There's no dream beyond their sight

There is two per cent reservation for disabled students, but most of them get in through merit. – Harsha Mehta Principal, SIES College Neha Bhayana, Mumbai

SIES College, Mumbai
NITIN PATIL wants to be a hardware engineer. And nothing can deter this 18–year–old son of a security guard who is visually impaired. A student of Class 12 at SIES College, Patil is determined to see his dreams come through. By the way, he is also learning computers part–time.

Like him, many visually impaired students have set their sights on higher education and lucrative careers – no more phone booths, lift operation or basket making. And, fortunately, colleges are going out of their way to help them.

Ramnarain Ruia College was the first to set up the 'Centre for Visually Impaired' seven years ago. It has 20 Braille typewriters and seven specially designed com puters. "We also have an option where students can give their own exams in Braille and teachers correct the English version of the paper that is automatically produced," said Ruia Principal Suhas Ped nekar.

St Xavier's set up its re source centre three years ago. The number of Visually Impaired students has doubled since then, says Principal Frazer Mascarenhas.

While there are no government freeships for disabled students (as for economically and socially backward categories), college managements have come up with innovative schemes. SIES College not only provides free tuition, but also free textbooks and lunch. At Ruia, thanks to the 'Each One Adopt One' scheme, almost 80 per cent of the students have 100 per cent funding. Ruia and SIES also admit students from Marathi medium schools.

Interestingly, most of these students get admissions on merit basis. "There is two per cent reservation for disabled students, but most of them get in through merit. They have respectable SSC scores," said SIES College Principal Harsha Mehta.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Rehab centre on verge of closure

PATIALA: The Handicapped Rehabilitation Centre here – which provides artificial limbs to patients in five districts of this region – is on the verge of closure due to inability of the district Red Cross Society to provide financial assistance to it.

According to staff working here, initially, the centre was funded by the Central government but gradually funds were reduced and today it is getting difficult to even bear annual expenditure on the salaries paid to the staff, which comes to around Rs 5 lakh.

Even the Punjab government, on its part, is turning a blind eye to its dilapidating condition.

There was a detailed discussion on the issue of revival of the centre at a medical camp organised by the Patiala Welfare Society at Majri Akaliyaan in which around five hundred patients were examined by expert doctors and provided free medicines.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Chandigarh/Rehab_centre_on_verge_of_closure/

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Blind girl fights IIM

New Delhi, June 2: A visually impaired CAT examinee has challenged IIM Bangalore's final admissions list, questioning the relative weight given to the three segments of the admissions process.

Vaishnavi, a 22–year–old from Bangalore, obtained a percentile of 89.2 in CAT, above the mark set for candidates in the persons with disability category. She claims her performance in the interview was "perfect" while her group discussion was "so–so".

"Since the GD and the interview are both part of the post–CAT process, I believed they would have equal weightage. If that is not the case, the IIMs should have clarified so in their admission brochure," her application to the B–school says.

She now wants the B–school to provide her a copy of the PERSONS WITH DISABILITY– category admissions list along with the marks each student obtained in the GD and interview. "I also want the weightage assigned to the GD and the interview," the application says.

This, she says, will help her prove that if, "as common sense would suggest", the GD and interview carried equal weight, she would have got in.

With the IIM unwilling to meet her request, Vaishnavi has moved the Central Information Commission.

If she can get the information and move court, she will be challenging the entire admissions list because the relative weight given to the segments are the same across all categories.

Senior IIM officials said the GD has "one–and–a–half–times" the weight of the interview.

"We understand that students are under pressure, but there is no way we can give her the list of all candidates and the marks they received as that would be a violation of the fiduciary relationship we share with all applicants," an official in charge of the admissions process at the institute said.

The B–school has told the Central Information Commission it is willing to reveal Vaishnavi's marks in the GD and interview and the weight accorded to each "if the body insists". The commission has asked the IIM to argue its case on June 18 in Vaishnavi's presence.

"The IIM has officially told us that their main concern is that given the highly competitive market for the top students, such a controversy may hurt the institute's image," a senior commission official said.

Source: www.telegraphindia.com/1070603/asp/frontpage/story_7869927.asp

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Ramping up their act

Colleges are making an effort to allow disabled students more access Mithibai College, which is currently undergoing a renovation to add three storeys to the existing structure, is planning to construct ramps and a few toilets which are disabled–friendly.

Elphinstone College, Mumbai
Mumbai: ARCHANA WAGHMARE finished college seven years ago. But the 26–year–old with an physical disability – polio below the right knee – shudders at the thought of how she spent four years at a Chembur college without lifts or ramps. With lectures being held on the third floor, Waghmare would take half–an–hour to reach her class.

"I had applied to the college requesting them to shift the class to the first floor. But they refused. Forced to take the stairs, I would halt at every floor. There were days when I had to forgo my lunch because the canteen was on the ground floor and toilets were also a problem," said Waghmare who currently works as a data entry operator at the Chemburbased National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped.

Post–surgery, Archana now wears a caliper with surgical shoes on her affected leg.

Waghmare's nightmarish experience is not an isolated one. If disability activists are to be believed, 50 per cent colleges in the city are inaccessible and about 50 per cent physically disabled students drop the idea of going to college.

While city colleges have more facilities for visually impaired and slow learners than they did 10 years ago, for those on wheelchairs or crutches they are still as inaccessible largely due to a paucity of funds. Colleges do not have a separate budget outlay for developing infrastructure for disabled people.

"Most colleges are not disabled–friendly. The problem is architectural as well as at titudinal. Modifications are not made even if there are disabled people in college. But it is usually due to lack of awareness," said Anita Prabhu, co–chairperson, ADAPT, (Able Disabled All People Together) Mumbai.

As a result, most disabled students enroll themselves for distance education programmes.

Stating that she was apprehensive of college life, wheelchair user Anjali Sharma said: "When my dad visited a few colleges in the western suburbs, he found that they had absolutely no facilities. Since I would need someone to assist me all the time, I decided to study from home."

But students like Sharma can take heart. The University Grants Commission (UGC) under the Ninth Five–Year Plan has begun helping universities and colleges with funds to provide infrastruc ture that will make class rooms, toilets, laboratories accessible for disabled people.

So, currently making changes to its 18th century Indo–Gothic building and campus under the UGC scheme is St. Xavier's College, which has received a Rs 5 lakh grant. The college is soon go ing to build ramps, construct two wheelchair–friendly toilets and put markers.

Other colleges too are making an effort in the direction. Mithibai College for instance, is undergoing renovation in order to add three storeys to the existing structure.

"After the overhaul, we are going to put ramps and a few toilets that are accessible to disabled people," said Principal Kiran Mangaonkar.

Ruia College too has added ramps to classrooms and toilets but it's not yet "completely accessible" according to principal Suhas Pednekar.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Software to help disabled children communicate

Software to aid disabled children communicate through computer devices such as PCs, laptops and PDAs, has been developed by a multidisciplinary team at Grenada University (AGR).

The software, called SC@UT, is designed for children with special communication and educational needs, such as those who suffer from autism Down's syndrome, or cerebral palsy.

Express needs
SC@UT enables the child to express such needs as going to the toilet or hunger, as well as such states as being happy, sad, or tired.

SC@UT, which stands for Augmentative and Adaptive Communication System, was created by researchers from the School of Computer Engineering (ETSI) at AGR, the association ASPROGRADES and a team of psychologists, psycho–pedagogues, and speech therapists.

The project was headed by professor Jose Juan Canas Delgado, lecturer of Ergonomics at the department of Experimental Psychology and Behavioural Physiology of the UGR and professor Maria Jose Rodriguez Fortiz, lecturer at the department of System Informatics.

"This is a project promoted by the Regional Government of Andalusia which attempts to reduce differences between disabled and non–disabled people", said professor Canas Delgado. "We have created a configurable parameter tool that allows disabled people to interact with their environment. In this way, their adaptation to a world full of barriers is much easier. In the present world, social and labour integration is impossible without communication and access to education."

Communication reduces aggression
Prof. Canas Delgado said that when communication improves, disruptive behaviour in disabled children decreases. Consequently, the use of that display could also diminish aggressiveness in autistic children.

"Many of them injure themselves and present aggressive behaviour because they become frustrated when they cannot communicate with others. If they could communicate through SC@UT, this problem would disappear," he said.

"SC@UT technology tries to overcome the problems of the previous systems: it is adaptive, portable, and inexpensive. With a proper device, the user can download the software free of charge."

The software has been piloted in 16 schools of the Southern Spanish provinces of Granada and Jaen. The Regional Government of Andalusia plans to use it throughout the region.

Source: http://mtbeurope.info/news/2007/706001.htm

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Blind Irish completes Everest marathon

Kathmandu: Putting behind his inability to see, a 31–year–old Irish man not only participated but also completed the world's most challenging sport – Ten zing Hillary Everest Marathon – to become the first blind person to complete the race.

Mark Pollock, who hails from Dublin, finished the race which passes through the world's highest glaciers and moraines in 16 hr, 27 min, 39 seconds.

''I am proud to be here,'' he said after crossing the finish line. His achieve ment was a true testament r to the book which he co authored recently – ''Mak ing It Happen''.

Source: Indian Express

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Long–term courses for special educators

Chennai: The National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities, instituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and situated on the East Coast Road, will soon introduce long–term courses in special education.

Addressing journalists here on Wednesday, director of the institute Neeradha Chandramohan said there were plans to introduce such a course and the modalities are being worked out.

The institute is now offering diploma courses in special education. This apart, the institute is also training persons with multiple disability to carry out their routine works without depending on others. Soon, an employment cell would be established to provide employment for persons with multiple disability.

As of now, more than 190 persons are getting trained in the institute.

Source: Indian Express

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Disabled boy scores 95%

"It's his dream to get into IIT," informs Dhruv's proud father

NEW DELHI: Unlike his classmates, he relies on his eyes to understand what is being taught in class. But with a 95.2 per cent in his Class X examination despite having partial hearing, Dhruv Jain has proved that he is certainly not any ordinary boy.

Sample his report card: Maths 99, Science 98, Sanskrit 98, Social Science 96 and English 85. Dhruv and his parents were expecting over 90 per cent marks, but 95 per cent was a pleasant surprise for the family.

Dhruv is one of the 16 disabled candidates who have secured 90 per cent or more in the Class X examinations conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education, the results of which were announced on Tuesday.

Though equipped with a hearing aid, Dhruv – a student of Delhi Public School, Mathura Road – can hear other people talk but can't follow what is being said. He underwent speech therapy in childhood that made him adept at lip–reading.

Dhruv's proud father, Alok Jain, gives credit to his son's grit and the support of his school for his brilliant performance.

"He was always given the first seat in school so that he could lip–read more clearly. The teachers were very supportive. They paid personal attention to him. At home, we assisted him in understanding things. To help him prepare, we would organise mock competitions on solving Mathematics problems. We would always encourage him to study and compete with others," he says.

Despite having achieved this rare feat, Dhruv is not willing to rest on his laurels. He has already begun preparing for his post–Class XII engineering entrance examinations and is taking coaching for it since April this year.

Source: www.hindu.com/2007/05/31/stories/2007053111810300.htm

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