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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 – November Issue

Parents of special children fight for monthly grant

CHENNAI: V. Manjula has been to the tahsildar office in K.K. Nagar over 15 times now. She, like a few other parents of children with special needs, is battling insensitivity of a few government officials in her attempt to obtain what her 15–year–old son V. Lingeswaran is entitled to.

He is eligible for a monthly allowance of Rs.400 for persons with disabilities provided under the Old Age Pension (OAP) Scheme. However, in these nearly 15 visits to the tahsildar's office, all that his mother has been doing is filling the same form over and over again.

After numerous form–filling exercises, she has still not managed to have a correction made in their records. "One of them had made a mistake and sent the money to my husband's name instead of my son's. And the postman delivering the amount would not give it to me because of that.

"Those at the tahsildar office asked me questions like what difference Rs.400 can make to our lives. Even when I take my mentally disabled son along, they are very rude," she says.

Selvam, who works as a watchman, says Rs.400 would certainly help raise his grandson, who is mentally disabled person. "It can cover a portion of the monthly medical expenditure.I felt miserable when my form was flung across the table by the typist there," he adds.

Mohammed Basha, another parent, was asked to produce a medical certificate for his autistic son Shein Shah. However, that did not make it any easier for the father.

"I am yet to get the money after four months. They asked me to go to the Collector's office. I have been going to these offices every other day," he says.

Despite possessing the national identity card for disabled persons and having filled numerous forms, these parents are hoping they will receive the money some day. Some parents point to the tendency of a few postmen to demand money while handing over money orders.

Secretary of the Confederation of Organisations for Persons with Mental Disability S. Namburajan says the government could consider giving the money through banks to avoid such problems.

Earlier this year, the State government launched a new scheme wherein persons with over 60 per cent mental retardation get a monthly maintenance allowance of Rs.500.

State Commissioner for the Disabled V.K. Jeyakodi told The Hindu that the government would, in the coming months, add 20,000 people to the list of beneficiaries under this scheme. "We have set aside Rs.18 crore for this. About 10,000 people are already receiving Rs.500 each."

Since the OAP scheme did not come under the Disabilities Commissionerate, parents, who faced difficulty obtaining the financial assistance, could complain at the Collector's office.

"They can write to the government saying they wish to enrol for the new scheme and therefore, would like to have their children's names excluded from the OAP scheme list. We prefer going through the post office to save parents and children the trouble of having to travel to the branch of the bank," he says.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/28/stories/2007112860030300.htm

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Campaign to promote awareness on disabilities

BANGALORE: With the aim of promoting job opportunities for persons with disabilities in the corporate sector, the Diversity & Equal Opportunity Centre (DEOC), an organisation promoting diversity and equal opportunities in corporate companies, has launched a national campaign to promote awareness on disabilities as part of World Disability Day.

3rd December, World Disability Day (WDD), proclaimed by the United Nations, is to celebrate and acknowledge the experience and capabilities of people with disabilities. The theme for the World Disability Day this year, as announced by the United Nations, is 'Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities'

To facilitate the observance of the awareness week in various companies, the DEOC has developed a disability awareness website, www.wdd.co.in, which has information regarding Disability Awareness Week; information on the common theme; activities that companies can hold during the week; awareness and promotional materials that can be downloaded and an online awareness/training module.

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Plan panel heeds concerns of disabled people

NEW DELHI: Some of the key concerns of disabled people that had reportedly been ignored in the 11th Plan document were included before the plan was submitted for Cabinet approval.

Earlier, advocacy groups had condemned the way disabled people had been given short shrift in the document put together by the Planning Commission, which had dismissed the issues related to disabled people in just five paragraphs. After protests and dharnas outside the Planning Commission, efforts have been made to include all the important concerns of in the plan.

One of the strongest demands had been for disability issues to be taken out of the exclusive charge of the ministry of social justice and empowerment as these issues cut across ministries. This demand has reportedly been heeded.

Planning Commission member Bhalchandra Mungekar who looks after disability issues in the commission confirmed that appropriate changes had been made to ensure that the most pressing concerns were addressed. "I have kept my promise that all these concerns would be addressed in letter and spirit in the 11th Plan. This is not charity but a matter of right for the disability sector that has been neglected for too long," said Mungekar.

Now, under the 11th plan clear–cut responsibilities will be delineated for each ministry and department, and budget allocation will be made by each ministry to carry out programmes that ensure that the Disability Act, 1995, is implemented. Monitoring mechanisms to track the implementation in the various ministries and departments are expected to be set up.

The plan is also said to envisage a separate department for disability within the ministry of social justice and empowerment.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Obesity can cause disability in elders: Study

New York: Junk food addicts, here's yet another reason why your mass of fatty tissues should not touch the obesity meter as you age, it can cause disability.

Researchers in the United States have carried out a study and found that older obese adults develop disabilities that interfere with daily living than those who are normal weight or slightly overweight, the 'WebMD' reported.

"It's not just that obese people have a higher risk (of these disabilities) than normal–weight people. What is new about this research is that the risk is actually increasing in obese people over time.

"Adults aged 60 and over who are slightly overweight do not have much of an increased risk of impairment. But in those who were obese, the risk can rise at a concerning rate.

The more obese, the greater the risk," lead researcher Dawn Alley was quoted as saying.

In fact, Alley of the University of Pennsylvania and her fellow researchers came to the conclusion after analysing data from a national survey at two different time points.

The researchers looked at the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for 1988 to 1994 and for 1999 to 2004. In all, they evaluated the obesity disability link for nearly 10,000 adults aged 60 and older.

While 23.5 per cent of the participants in the first survey were obese, 31.7 per cent of those in the second were.

The researchers also evaluated each participant's limitations in activities of daily living and classified them as limited if they had much difficulty or couldn't perform any of three tasks –– getting in and out of bed, dressing themselves and eating.

"At time point 1, obese older people were only 50 per cent more likely than normal–weight people to be functionally impaired. At time point 2, they were 98 per cent more likely to be functionally impaired than normal–weight people.

"The risk of functional impairment among obese elderly increased 24 per cent over time," Alley was quoted as saying. During the first survey, the risk of having a limitation in daily living activities wasn't significantly different between obese and normal–weight participants. But by the second survey, the risk of having such difficulty was twice as great for obese people.

"The increases are concerning for a couple of reasons. One is, it means obese people're experiencing more potentially preventable impairments.

"Second is that it means in the future, if this trend continues, increasing obesity rates are likely to slow health improvements in the elderly such as better cardiovascular health due to better treatment.

"The change over time (in increased disability) is what is really surprising," the researcher said.

The findings of the study have been published in 'The Journal of the American Medical Association'.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/008200711261431.htm

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Legal centre, helpline for disabled people from Dec 3

Pune, November 26: Three city–based lawyers, Mihir Raje, Murtaza Chherawala and Hussain Nalwala– have decided to spread awareness about Persons With Disability Act (PWD Act) by starting a free legal aid cell called Horizon on December 3, which is World Disability Day. All three are members of a law firm and will help those who want legal aid for employment or any other provisions under the Persons with Disabilities Act, Mental Health Act and National Trust Act. The lawyers want to commit themselves to "safeguard and enforce the rights of persons with disability including minors and mentally challenged."

According to Raje,"Disabled people have many issues. Through a helpline we can counsel them on the phone and meet them in person every Saturday between 4 and 7 pm." The trio have already worked with several organisations in the disability sector and are aware of the problems faced by disabled people.

"Though the Indian Constitution under Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, or place of birth, there is no provision which protects disabled persons. The law is there but disabled people are not yet aware of the provisions,'' said Raje.

Horizon would help facilitate the realisation of equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of persons with disability. The helpline number –020–263336/4 – will go operational from December 3.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com

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11th Plan ignores disability sector

NEW DELHI: Planning Commission's 11th five–year Plan has been charged with not only ignoring pressing concerns of the disability sector but also lacking clear policy directives for the coming five years. To add insult to injury, the Plan seems to suggest that the government's responsibility towards this sector has become lighter with the prevalence of disability coming down in the country "with general health improvement and various health interventions."

"The draft as it stands today is extremely damaging to our future. We cannot allow the Union cabinet to approve the Plan in its present shape, " said the activists who gathered outside Planning Commission for a silent protest. The cabinet meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, November 27.

The Plan that will decide the policy of the government on disability issues for the next five years is said to have left out many important concerns of the disability sector, by the admission of the planning commission member himself, who looks after the issue of disability.

Planning Commission member Bhalchandra Mungekar, who is key to the preparation of the section on disability in the Plan, while speaking to TOI, agreed that there were some serious omissions in the document. "Many people from the sector have conveyed their reservations to me. I am aware that some key issues have been left out and we cannot let that happen. But I assure the sector that any concerns that remains unaddressed will be taken care of."

Mungekar added that there was still time to make changes and add concerns left out in the report as the Plan becomes final only after the National Development Council approves it. The NDC is supposed to meet on December 6.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of Planning Commission and Mungekar met the protesting activists and assured them that necessary changes would be made to the Plan to reflect their concerns.

"The 11th Plan's path ahead for disability outlined in five paragraphs shows no vision for taking the effort for inclusive development for disabled people forward. But they have spent 12 paragraphs spread across two pages to pat themselves on the back on what they claim to have achieved for the sector," said Javed Abidi convener of the Disabled Rights Group. One of the main demands of the disability sector is to take disability issues beyond the ambit of just one single ministry, the Social Justice and Empowerment ministry, as the issues cut across ministries, for instance, inclusive education would come under HRD ministry, accessible railway stations would come under railway ministry, employment of disabled under labour ministry and so on.

There must be clear allocation of resources within each ministry for implementing the provisions of the Disability Act, 1995, said the activists adding that it was time the government put its money where its mouth is instead of merely paying lip service to disability concerns. A beginning, they feel, would be the 11th Plan that would guide government policy for the next five years.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Browsing the Net made easy for the visually impaired

Bangalore:Yahoo India has launched the Classic version of the Yahoo home page The version was launched at Mitr Jyoti Blind School

Users can check email and search for content with the help of screen readers and magnifiers.

When you have the world at the click of a mouse, it helps if you can navigate it easily.

Visually impaired people who use the Internet often find that the speech software that helps them operate is incompatible with several websites and is slowed down by the high graphical content on web pages.

Yahoo India (Research and Development) launched the Classic version of the Yahoo home page which will enable the visually impaired to use the Internet to check email as well as search for content, by using their screen readers and magnifiers.

This version was launched by Victor Tsaran, who has worked around his disability and helped Yahoo with its research to make the site accessible, at the Mitr Jyoti Blind School.

Heavy graphics
Visually impaired users said that the site in its present form was not accessible as it slowed down their systems due to heavy graphic files and too many advertisements.

The Classic version will help solve this problem.

Mr. Tsaran, an Ukranian who is working in the U.S., spoke to the media about the accessibility factor and said that it is challenging because "we live in a world where technology is changing by the day".

"It is difficult to keep pace but then there is no perfect world. Purists may not like to hear that but it is true," he said.

"I hope society will work towards bringing blind people into the mainstream instead of looking at them as objects of charity," he said. He spoke about the need for job opportunities for the blind and said that services for the blind should not be ignored.

When pointed out by members of Mitr Jyoti that creating a new Yahoo account required them to go through a stage of visual verification, he smiled and said that he knew he had that coming his way.

"Those things need to be worked on, we still have a long way to go," he admitted. Companies such as Google have been working with Classic versions for some time now, and he said that they have "woken up a little late".

He said that he was now working on making advertisement on the Internet accessible and said that research and development needs to keep this accessibility in mind. This Classic version is also available with a Hindi Interface.

"Yahoo wants to reach out to everybody, whether it be the rural population or the visually challenged.

"In this age anybody who is not clued in to the Internet will be left behind, which is why accessibility is so vital," said Pranesh Anthapur, Chief Operations Officer, Yahoo India.

The team has been working on this for over two years, and there is a more to come, he added.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/23/stories/2007112354520600.htm

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Study aid for disabled people hiked

HYDERABAD: The government has enhanced scholarships and tuition fee for the disabled students from Class I to post–graduate/professional courses by 50 to 70 per cent, to bring them on a par with their SC/ST counterparts.

At the lowest level, a first standard student will now get a scholarship of Rs. 70 a month (Rs. 35 earlier) and at PG level Rs. 330 (Rs. 170). A higher hike has been offered to hostellers. It is Rs. 235 a month for Intermediate (Rs. 140) and Rs. 740 for post–graduation (Rs. 240).

The decision will benefit 14,258 disabled students to the tune of Rs. 1 crore annually. The subsidy allowed to the disabled under various economic support schemes has also been increased to Rs. 10,000 from Rs. 3,000 in each case, said Women Development and Child Welfare Minister N. Rajyalakshmi briefing reporters here on Saturday.

She said the decisions were taken at a meeting on November 23 by Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Source: Hindu – 25 Nov

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C'wealth Games venues to be made disabled friendly

All the venues for the 2010 Commonwealth Games are being made disabled friendly, Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar announced in New Delhi on Friday.

The development and the construction works on most of the stadiums have started and would be completed by December 2009, the minister said in the Lok Sabha.

Aiyar added that provisions were being made to include ramps for easy access, and there would be separate toilets for the physically challenged.

The organisers of the games have committed themselves to delivering a "green games" and have recently partnered with United Nations Environment Programme towards achieving this objective.

There would be structures for rainwater harvesting, and solar energy would be used for street lighting, the minister said.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com

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Disabled people demand pension of Rs. 1,500

HYDERABAD: Persons with disabilities from across the State converged at the Lalitha Kala Thoranam here on Friday to bring into focus their main demand of a disability monthly pension of Rs.1,500.

The venue was full of those who have learnt to lead as normal a life as they can despite their handicap, in what was titled State convention of the 'Self–esteem for persons with disabilities', organised by the United Forum of Associations of the Disabled.

The gathering was disappointed with the absence of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

They were told that Dr. Reddy would be present and that they could represent their grievances.

Speakers from different associations working for disabled people welfare underscored the need for them to remain united.

Balladeer Gadar pledged that henceforth he would also write and sing songs explaining to people the daily problems which the mentally and physically disabled people faced. They did not need sympathy but only wanted support, he said, adding what the Government did for them was inadequate.

Earlier a delegation, led by forum convenor M. Srinivasulu, president, Andhra Pradesh Disabled Welfare Association, Ch. Subba Rao and secretary, Network of PWDs organisations, met the Chief Minister and submitted a memorandum listing their demands.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/24/stories/2007112461450400.htm

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Government to call for tender to distribute rice to disabled people

PUDUCHERRY: Social Welfare Minister M. Kandasamy said that the government planned to call for tenders to distribute rice to disabled people. Quality rice would be procured from the open market, he said.

He was speaking at the inauguration of a sports meet for disabled people organised by the Social Welfare Department at Uppalam Indira Gandhi Stadium here on Friday.

The Minister said that the tender would be called by the BC Corporation. Each month the department distributed 15 kg of rice each to disabled people. It had received complaints that the rice being supplied by PAPSCO was of poor quality and was also distributed irregularly.

Mr. Kandasamy said that he had directed the officials concerned to check whether all government departments were implementing three per cent reservation for the disabled.

The government planned to distribute a bonus of Rs. 500 each to disabled people in the Union Territory from the next 'Deepavali,' he said. About 20,000 people would benefit from this.

This year, the government had not allocated money for this in the budget, he said. Uppalam MLA A. Anbalagan, who presided over the function, said that the government should take steps to implement 3 per cent reservation for disabled people in its departments. The Central government had identified 23 different posts such as dispatch clerk and lift operators that could be filled up by the disabled, he said.

The MLA called for the setting up of a high–level committee to oversee filling of vacancies in government and private sectors. He also sought that a welfare board be set up for the disabled.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/24/stories/2007112452850300.htm

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Varsity to have disabled–friendly campus

CHENNAI: The University of Madras is all set to become the country's first higher education institution to provide a barrier–free environment for disabled people.

The Union Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment has, in principle, accepted a proposal from the university to make its campus more access–friendly for the physically challenged. "We had written to all universities asking them to provide a barrier–free environment. The University of Madras was among the first to respond and we have asked them to submit a proposal. Once the proposal is accepted, we will make funds available," Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan, told reporters on Thursday, while announcing an exhibition of disabled–assistive devices and equipment to be held in Tiruchi in January next year.

The national–level exhibition, Samarthya, is being organised by the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities, run by the Ministry at Muttukadu near Chennai.

"We propose to provide ramps, disabled–friendly toilets and access for the disabled to classrooms and libraries. Once the Ministry's nod comes through, we will start implementing it," Vice–Chancellor S. Ramachandran, told The Hindu. Also, Chennai will become the second city after New Delhi to have an exclusive helpline for the disabled with a user–friendly four–digit number.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/24/stories/2007112453470400.htm

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Unemployment rises among people with disability, says study

A World Bank report has found levels of unemployment increasing among disabled persons in the country.

The study commissioned by the Government of India and based on a sample of 2,000 households in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh says that employment rate among people with disability (PWD) fell from 42.7 per cent in 1991 down to 37.6 per cent in 2002.

The five percentage point difference results in part from the different sample as people with mental illness and retardation were not counted as PWD in the 47th round but were in the 58th round, where they were the PWD sub groups with the lowest employment rates.

However, the finding of a reduced employment rate among PWD between the early 1990s and the early 2000s holds even when mentally disabled people are omitted from the 58th round sample.

Excluding mentally disabled people, the study says that the employment rate of PWD still stands at 39.6 in 2002 i.e. 3.1 percentage points lower than in 1991. This compares to a fall of only 1.1 percentage points for the general population (from 58.6 to 57.5 per cent) between 1993 and 2000, the report points out.

The report finds no explanation for this decline in employment rates over a decade among people with disability. Says lead author Philip O'Keefe: "We are still looking for answers for this one. I feel better reporting and better awareness about the matter could explain the figures partly."

The report, People with Disabilities in India: From Commitments to Outcomes, concludes that further research is needed to understand the determinants of the decline in the job rate of persons with physical and sensory disabilities between 1991 and 2002, particularly to assess if it results from changes in the demographic composition of the population with disabilities, in the increased severity of disability or factors in the labour market and society.

The report goes on to say that fall in the employment rates of PWD relative to the general working age population during the 1990s is almost universal across the country except Sikkim. But the extent of the relative decline varies.

States like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra exhibit small falls in the PWD/non PWD employment ratios, while others like J & K, Bihar, and Assam have seen large falls in the relative employment position of PWD.

A further aspect of the unfair gap between the employment rates of the PWD and the general working age population is the variations between the two in the levels of education.

The study says that the gap in employment rates between the two is more pronounced for those with the lowest levels of education in both periods. The gap in employment levels has widened for all education levels, the study shows.

For the illiterate PWD population, their employment rate was 64 per cent of the of the general illiterate population in the early 1990s. This fell sharply to 47 per cent by the early 2000s. Not only have PWDs lost out in employment terms in 1990s, but those likely to be the poorest have lost out proportionately more, the report says.

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

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World Bank's report on disabled people in India

New Delhi, November 22, Rarely out on the streets in large numbers and not being a captive vote bank has its disadvantages.

But on Wednesday, when the World Bank released its India report on disabled people it acknowledged what the government has overlooked for a long time.

The number of people with disabilities in India is substantial and likely to grow further.

The World Bank report estimates that 4 – 8 per cent of the Indian population lives with disability as opposed to the 2.13 per cent shown in the Census.

Also their employment rate has fallen from 43 to 38 per cent in the last ten years. But the government doesn't quite agree with the report. Meira Kumar, Minister for Social Justice said, ''The report says that the disabled still largely remain outside the policy framework and is not entirely correct. A lot is being done but for more we are in the process of amending the Disability Act.''

As soon as the Minister finished her speech at a conference convened to discuss the World Bank's report, a few of the participants contested her claims.

Some of the participants argue that the 11th 5–year plan which should ideally have had a separate chapter on disability considering the growing numbers has overlooked most of the issues.

While World Bank officials do not totally share this concern, they are happy that the civil society and NGOs movement in the country is gathering momentum.

''You may not always agree with them but the good thing is that India has articulate voices and one of the most progressive policy structure in the developing world that alone counts for a lot, '' said Philip O' Keefe, World Bank.

But even the Minister's office, the nodal ministry for looking into the needs of disabled people is not disabled friendly. In violation of a clause that was included in the Disability Act way back in 1995.

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

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'Pawsitive therapy' for kids with learning disability, mentally disabled people

Mumbai, November 15 The saying that 'dogs are a man's best friend' has assumed a new dimension. Not only are they loyal compassions but they also are turning out to be a big hit with mentally disabled children, and also for children with learning disabilities. 'Animal assisted therapy' is slowly being introduced in India largely thanks to Minal Lonkar–Kavishwar and her team of animal–lovers who volunteer to train animals for such therapy at Animal Angels Foundation.

"Pets only know to give love, expecting nothing in return. They can be good friends to the children and excellent listeners," said Kavishwar.

"Animal assisted therapy helps students with learning disability overcome their inhibitions and boosts their self confidence, as the animals don't talk back. If a child narrates stories or poems to an animal trained for therapy, it really helps the child," said Kavishwar who runs the foundation in Mumbai, Thane and Pune. The team had experimented with the therapy at the Jungle Book Children's Library in Pune, where children volunteered to read to animals.

The therapy can work wonders even for normal children. Recently the club had experimented with children at EuroKids Pre–school. "Pets like dogs, cats, rabbits were taken to the school and at a day–long seminar on 'introduction to animals' children were made to overcome their inhibitions," she said. "Animal therapy helps in inculcating values like empathy, compassion, sympathy and responsibility. If a child with a tendency to bully is told to look after a pet, he/she ends up parenting the animal. This immediately makes the child feel more responsible and calm down," Kavishwar said.

One such dog, Kutty who now four and a half years old, is working as an assistant therapist at Jidd School in Thane for special children. "Kutty is like one of the teaching staff. She waits outside the door when the kids get out of the bus, monitors them during lunch, and also plays with them. If they don't go to class after the bell she howls at them, but never harm them," said Shyamsri Bhosale, owner of Kutty and principal of Jidd School.

"In school, there are several success stories scripted around Kutty. One such story is about Sharukh who did not speak a word. However, after meeting Kutty, the first word that he uttered was 'Kutty'," Bhosale said.

Kutty, was recently voted the world's most 'socially helpful dog' on an online poll. She will soon be conferred with the Beyond Limits Award by the Delta society, a Washington based organisation, for the outstanding work she had done as animal therapist after the 7/11 train blasts.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com

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"Provide certificates to persons with multiple disabilities"

CHENNAI: Persons with multiple disabilities must be provided appropriate certification to enable access to government welfare schemes, participants at a workshop here on 'Perspectives on Multiple Disabilities' said.

Over 100 representatives from various fields, including social work, medicine and management, along with the directors of several national institutes working with the disabled, took part in the workshop organised by the National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMD).

Director of NIEPMD Neeraja Chandramohan said participating organisations would work together with the government for the holistic rehabilitation of and early intervention for disabled people.

Chairperson of National Trust Poonam Natrajan said certification of disabled people is yet to be developed. The National Trust was established by the Central government for the welfare of those with autism, cerebral palsy and multiple disabilities.

Minister for Social Welfare Poongothai Aladi Aruna said there was a need to re–look at the inclusive education policy to decide who can be included in mainstream classrooms. The severely mentally disabled people, for instance, required some sort of special education. Early intervention centres for the hearing impaired have been set up in all the State's districts, she said.

Participants discussed the definition of multiple disability and the service models, human resource development and research and development required to deal with multiple disability. They suggested that 'multiple disability' be defined as the combination of two or more impairments, either physical or mental, requiring inter–disciplinary rehabilitation and education services.

According to the recommendations that would be sent to the Centre, community–based rehabilitation measures should be accorded higher priority. Providing a barrier–free environment was of utmost importance.

Participants underlined the need for a standard prescribed format to certify multiply disability. Certificates should be given with an 'as on date' status to allow for improvement in the condition of the disability. The more common and easily identified conditions can be certified by doctors at Primary Health Centres. Schools should be discouraged from insisting on being shown the medical certificates before every board exam.

As for special educators themselves, the government has been urged to provide accreditation for courses and disseminate information relating to training courses. The need to recognise professionals dealing with multiple disability as a separate group and a special course for interpreters for the deaf and the deaf–blind were reiterated.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/17/stories/2007111759760300.htm

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Survey of people with disabilities from next month

CHENNAI: For the first time, an exclusive survey of people with disabilities will begin in the State next month and Rs.50 lakh has been sanctioned for the purpose.

"This will enable us to find out the exact number of people with disabilities since now we have only the 2001 census data to depend on," said V.K. Jeyakodi, Commissioner for disabled people.

Speaking at a function held to distribute medical certificates and national identification cards to the students of Little Flower Convent Higher Secondary School for the Deaf, an institution for the visually and hearing impaired, here on Thursday, he said that by the end of the current financial year, 4.6 lakh ID cards would be distributed. He said it was essential to identify children with disabilities as early as possible to facilitate treatment. The ID cards are given to people with a disability of 40 per cent or more.

Social Welfare Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna said that the previous scheme under which people with disabilities had to go to government hospitals and get themselves tested by a medical committee was cumbersome.

The new scheme, a "pilot project", under which medical teams from every district visited schools, examined the children and issued ID cards would make it much easier for the beneficiaries. She said collective leadership was essential in such projects and audiologists, doctors, and government officials must work together for the scheme to be success.

The Minister and the Commissioner distributed medical certificates and ID cards to 43 hearing and 33 visually impaired students of Little Flower Convent Higher Secondary School for the Deaf.

The strength of the school is around 730 and the rest of the students have already received ID cards either during their visits to the hospital or at other distribution programmes, a school teacher said.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/16/stories/2007111661180200.htm

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Girl's crusade for rights of disabled people

Schoolgirl Aishwarya Shukla has a gift for touching people, particularly, government officials whom she has now been meeting for over two months, sensitising them about the city's disabled people.

She stumped Jharkhand's Disability Commissioner Satish Chandra, walking into his chamber coolly and asking him why his office complex was not disabled–friendly. It didn't have ramps or escalators, she pointed out. "What struck me about the girl was her straightforwardness. She compelled me to think afresh."

The only child of her parents, Aishwarya, a Class X student of Bridgeford School here, started her campaign in early September, after learning that most government office complexes in Jharkhand's capital do not have ramps or escalators.

Every day, Aishwarya makes the rounds of government offices, meeting departmental heads and drawing their attention to issues concerning disabled people. And it's evident she's done her homework. Her persuasive arguments and knowledge of the law often leave government officials taken aback.

The plucky 15–year–old first dashed off letters to authorities that she thought could make a difference. She wrote to Social Welfare Minister Joba Majhi and her Principal Secretary U.K. Sangma, explaining how difficult it was for disabled persons to make their way up steep flights of stairs.

Majhi and Sangma wrote back and assured her of taking up the issue with the government.

"I found none of the government offices or public places in Ranchi, such as bus stands and the railway station, were equipped with ramps or escalators," Aishwarya told the Hindustan Times.

Between school and her awareness campaign, Aishwarya manages to pack in some other activities as well.

She was recently picked for the final round of the Horlicks WIZTEAM India contest, scheduled to be held in Bangalore from November 17 to 21. She will be representing Jharkhand in the national round along with another student.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com

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Disabled govt employees to get extra leave

Employees of the Central Government who are disabled people will get 10 days of casual leave over and above the 20 days they already get. This measure, which may later be emulated by state governments, will be announce before World Disability Day on December 3.

According to the government notification, the 10 extra days of leave are meant to enable such employees to participate in "conferences, training, workshops organised at the national and state level agencies."

Sanjiv Sachdeva of Samarthyam, a NGO, says, "This move comes after 18–20 people from the organisation approached the Department of Personnel and Training requesting them to extend special facilities to people with disability. For the first time, the government has reacted so quickly."

A DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training) official said, "Government employees are like ambassadors who take it upon themselves to pay back to the society what it has received from it. This extra time would give them the opportunity to come up with solutions for the betterment of disabled people."

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com

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Blind man gets job 15 yrs after taking written test

NEW DELHI, 7 Nov: It is probably the longest wait a candidate ever had for a job after appearing for the written test 15 years ago.

A blind man, Bhudev Sharma, applied for a Class–III job in Uttar Pradesh lower judiciary under 2% quota for disabled people against an advertised 30 vacancies. He was the only candidate under the disability category.

He appeared for the test held in 1992 in Bulandshahr. As 2% of 30 posts came to 0.6 and did not quantify as one post, authorities rejected his candidature.

Sharma moved the Allahabad HC and a single judge bench allowed his petition on September 25, 1997, directing the authorities to give him the job. However, a HC division bench overruled verdict allowing an appeal of the state government. Before the SC, Sharma relied on a government order of August 26, 1993, which stated that 2% of all government services were reserved for disabled persons eligible for direct recruitment.

Solving the mathematical dilemma for the government, a bench comprising Justices A K Mathur and Markandey Katju said 2% of 30 posts is 0.6, which being more than 0.5 should have been rounded off to 1. "Since there was no other disabled persons who applied, Sharma was entitled to the reserved post," said Justice Katju, writing the judgment for the bench.

Allowing Sharma's appeal, the bench set aside the judgment of the HC division bench and directed the government to forthwith appoint him in the lower judiciary at Bulandshahr.

On being informed by the government that Sharma was working in the post on the basis of an interim order, the bench said Sharma's employment should be regularised and allowed to continue as a regular Class–II employee and he should be given all consequential benefits.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Bone–anchored aids for better hearing

These surgically implanted hearing aids conduct sound through the bone rather than the middle ear.

Within the relatively small structure of the ears, nose, and throat are several very complex mechanisms that allow us not only to make sound but also to hear, to keep our balance, to smell, to breathe in and filter air, and to swallow food and water. These mechanisms are interrelated and generally carry out their functions without our being aware of the processes at work.

How hearing works
The ear is divided into three parts: the external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The primary function of the outer ear or pinna is to collect and carry sounds (which are essentially vibrations) to the middle ear. Sound waves travel through the outer ear canal and strike the eardrum, which vibrates like a drum and converts the waves to mechanical energy.

This energy resonates to the middle ear, where tiny bones vibrate to the rhythm of the eardrum, amplify the sound, and pass the sound waves on to the inner ear.

The inner ear (or cochlea) is fluid–filled and lined with tiny hairs. Vibrating sound waves cause ripples in the fluid, which then bends the tiny hairs. This process converts the sound into nerve impulses, which then travel along a network of nerve cells (the auditory or eighth cranial nerve) to the brain, which perceives these impulses as sound.

We receive sound in two ways by air conduction via the ear canal, eardrum and ossicles and by bone conduction where the sound is transmitted directly through the jaw and skull bone bypassing the outer and middle ears.

What is a BAHA?
The Bone Anchored Hearing Aid system is surgically implanted and allows sound to be conducted through the bone rather than via the middle ear – a process known as direct bone conduction. A small titanium implant is implanted into the skull behind the ear where it osseointegrates with the living bone. An abutment is attached to the implant and a sound processor is clipped on. The sound processor can be worn or taken off at any time. The sound quality is greatly improved compared to traditional bone conducting hearing aids.

How does it work?
The system works by enhancing natural bone transmission as a pathway for sound to travel to the inner ear, bypassing the external auditory canal and middle ear. The titanium implant over time naturally integrates with the skull bone. For hearing, the sound processor transmits sound vibrations through the external abutment to the titanium implant. The vibrating implant sets up vibrations within the skull and inner ear that finally stimulate the nerve fibers of the inner ear, allowing hearing.

In most cases, hearing impaired people will be fitted with air conduction devices. These are placed inside the ear canal or behind the ear. However, some hearing impaired people are unable to benefit from this type of device. They may have a congenital deformity wherein there is no functioning ear canal in which the hearing aids can be fitted or may have a chronic ear infection in the middle or the outer ear that is made worse when a hearing aid is worn. Also patients with inner ear insufficiency on one side and a conductive deafness on the other side where there is a potential risk of making the only functioning cochlea unusable by ear surgery will benefit from the implant.

BAHA for children
Children born with malformations of the outer and middle ear can still have perfect inner ear function.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com

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