The preamble of India states that the constitution of India aims to secure to all its citizens equality of status and of opportunity. Right to equality is in fact, a Fundamental Right as per the Constitution of India. This is why India through its various reservation policies strives to provide a level playing field to the underprivileged sections of the society. These measures are especially important for People with Disabilities (PwD) – the fact that has been recognised officially by the United Nations (UN) recently.
UN Definition of Persons with Disability
The UN Convention on the Rights of PwD, which was adopted in 2006, defines persons with disabilities as those “who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.
UN Guidelines on Accessibility to Social Justice for PwD
The UN has released its first-ever guidelines on access to social justice for PwD to make it easier for them to access justice systems around the world. The guidelines outline a set of 10 principles and detail the steps for implementation. These 10 Principles are:
Principle 1: PwD shall not be denied access to justice on the basis of disability.
Principle 2: Facilities and services must be universally accessible without discrimination of PwD.
Principle 3: PwD, including children with disabilities, have the right to appropriate procedural accommodations.
Principle 4: PwD have the right to access legal notices and information in a timely and accessible manner on an equal basis with others.
Principle 5: PwD are entitled to all substantive and procedural safeguards recognized in international law on an equal basis with others, and States must provide the necessary accommodations to guarantee due process.
Principle 6: PwD have the right to free or affordable legal assistance.
Principle 7: PwD have the right to participate in the administration of justice on an equal basis with others.
Principle 8: PwD have the right to report complaints and initiate legal proceedings concerning human rights violations and crimes.
Principle 9: Effective and robust monitoring mechanisms play a critical role in supporting access to justice for PwD.
Principle 10: All those working in the justice system must be provided with awareness-raising and training programmes addressing the rights of PwD.
India has been highly sensitive towards issues of PwD. Even as it lacks the appropriate infrastructure to back them, India has encouraged PwD to aim for the best and highest paid jobs in the country. In order to fill the gaps and increase the speed of development to provide support to PwD, the government has encouraged the corporates of the country to utilize its CSR funds for their benefit.
CSR Initiatives by India Inc. for PwD
Sabal – A Tata Steel CSR Initiative
Sabal was conceived in 2017 by Tata Steel CSR in partnership with Enable India, with the intent to engender an increased awareness for persons with disability and work towards creating a sensitised environment that ensures equal rights and respect for the same. Starting initially in the form of a centre for capacity building of organisations working on disability, Sabal today has established itself as an ecosystem that has engaged with more than 5,000 people and more than 50 government and private organisations.
Sabal also directly engages with PwD for livelihood and skill development programmes through various trainings, foundation courses, digital literacy and skill enhancement workshops. Through its annual event, Sabal Sahyog, it provides a platform for like-minded organisations and individuals to converge and engage in experiential learning which is integral to developing disability programmes that address the demographic needs that various locations demand.
Tech Mahindra Strives to Promote Inclusion of PwD
Disability is one of the major areas of intervention for Tech Mahindra Foundation. The Foundation works towards ensuring that Persons with Disabilities have the opportunity for a better future and dignified life. This is done through two programmes: ARISE+ (All Round Improvement in School Education for Children with Disabilities) and SMART+ (Skills-for Market Training for Persons with Disabilities).
The SMART+ programme, launched in 2013 includes a specially designed curriculum plus well-equipped classrooms enable effective communication in classrooms so as to enable Persons with Disabilities to learn better. The programme also trains youth in basic English and workplace readiness skills and provides them with suitable employment opportunities. The programme enables youth with a diverse range of disabilities – sight impairment, hearing/speech impairment and locomotors disabilities – to receive hands-on training and exposure to the rich curriculum and resources of SMART. The Foundation runs 15 SMART + centres at 8 locations – Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune.
ARISE+ is a special program that encompasses the Foundation’s work in the area of school education for persons with disabilities in the age group 3-18 years of age. The Foundation supports organisation working with children with disabilities schools to help them thrive fully despite the challenges and to prepare them for the outside world. Working with diverse groups within the domain, the Foundation empowers persons with disabilities, including persons with visual impairment, hearing and speech impairment, locomotors disabilities and a range of intellectual disabilities across India.
ARISE+ essentially focuses on the following interventions:
– early detection of disabilities in children.
– support in the education of children with disabilities and leveraging assistive technology.
– counselling for parents, teachers and other caregivers with techniques to take care of children with special needs.