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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.

Disability News India – December 2010 Issue

Persons with Disabilities Act not implemented in spirit: Governor

Dec 12: It was the duty of society to look after its disabled population. A society that recognises this population, is truly progressive, he said while addressing a gathering at a symposium organised by the Karnataka Association for the Blind (KAB), here on Sunday.

Bhardwaj, who had worked on legislation on disability during his tenure as the Union Law Minister, suggested that the government must provide support to the disabled either through subsidies or by having exclusive co–operative societies to enable them to be self–sustained. He appreciated the efforts of KAB for the disabled persons.

"Visually–challenged persons are able to see within themselves. Philosophers agree that God resides in the human body, and such people are able to see Him," he said. He urged the gathering to draw inspiration from Surdas who was able to transcend his blindness to become a poet.

Former additional chief secretary A Ramaswamy said society will achieve progress when it respects the visually–impaired. "The blind do not need pity, but respect," he added. Earlier, the Governor felicitated disabled persons and also those who have contributed for the welfare of the disabled.

Along with the symposium, an exhibition and sale of paintings is also being held at the Chitrakala Parishat to aid the Karnataka Association for the Blind.

Source: http://www.deccanherald.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Audio markers that read out to visually impaired

Dec 12: It could change the way visually impaired move around their homes and in the city. The Industrial Design Centre at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT–B) has designed audio markers, a system of standardised plates with an audio code identification, which can be easily be fitted anywhere. On placing an audio pen over these markers, the visually impaired can hear the preset audio information.

"All environments must be barrier free. We need to evolve a standardised system that will ensure all public places are accessible," said Professor Kirti Trivedi, who has designed the audio markers. "These markers would bring a great sense of independence to the visually impaired."

The markers can be fixed on CD cases and medicine bottles as well as on house doors and office cubicles.

Having made the prototype in one month, Trivedi proposed his design as a system for urban navigation in Vienna at Space X ? an exchange forum on information design for the visually impaired in October.

At present, though there are similar markers available abroad, in countries like Japan, they are very expensive and their cost runs into hundreds of dollars. Pegging his design as an affordable solution and hence easily diffusible, Trivedi said these audio marker labels would cost around Rs10, while the one–time investment on the audio pen will be around $15 (approx Rs700).

Essentially, these labels are installed with an invisible code. When the MP3 audio pen equipped with an optical reader is placed on the code, the visually impaired person can hear the audio message. For instance, at a bus stop the label would have a bus number as the code and as the pen is placed on the label the person would hear the bus route.

Likewise, the audio marker when placed near a monument will read out its history. With the aim to make existing buildings user–friendly for the visually impaired, the audio markers can be fixed as house numbers as well as at railways stations, airports and in offices.

These labels could also be fixed on spines of Braille books. So rather than moving his fingers through every book title in Braille, the visually impaired person will just have to place the pen on the labels and listen to the book.

"In order to build a more accessible environment, both at home and externally, such a concept is definitely needed," said Sam Taraporevala, director, Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged. "But what is essential is that it should have a cost advantage over its readily available counterparts, both in terms of the hand–held device and labels in order to make it viable."

Having designed these markers, Trivedi's next step is to conduct a pilot test to check its effectiveness. "To design a comprehensive system, we need a dedicated web–based support system and a portal where upgrades and downloads for different cities can be obtained," said Trivedi.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Children with disabilities a part of our society: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit

New Delhi, Dec 11: Children with disabilities should be integrated with the society and should not be discriminated against, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said here Saturday.

'Such children need special care and enormous support. They are different and can perform much better than any of us,' Dikshit said at an event here.

Children with autistic and mental disabilities participated in the 10th 'Special Athletics 2010', an annual athletic meet at Bharti College in west Delhi.

'We need more institutions, associations and corporate support to integrate these children in every walk of society,' the chief minister added.

Organised by IT firm CMC Limited, Special Olympic Bharat, Aashirwad Special Education School and the Indian Medical Association, over 21 schools for children with learning diasbilities participated in the meet.

'Such forums are required by corporate firms to encourage and help develop staff sensitivity towards specially–abled children so that they can take initiatives and help them integrate into the mainstream,' CMC's chief financial officer J.K. Gupta said. Nearly 600 children took part in athletic events and various other competitions.

Source: http://sify.com/news
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike to take census of people with disabilities

Bangalore, Dec 10: A decision in this regard was taken after Karnataka Commissioner for Disability, K V Rajanna, rapped Palike officials for not spending even a penny from the Rs 10 crore allocated for the welfare of disabled people.

Rajanna held a meeting with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike ( BBMP) officials to discuss measures taken for the welfare of the differently abled people. However, the Palike officials failed to provide proper records saying they have to depend on the general census for details.

Disappointed, Rajanna directed them to take a census of disabled persons and extend them benefits. He also warned the officials that a notice would be served on them if they failed to utilise the fund, or divert it.

Responding to this, Additional Commissioner V Ashok said a meeting of zonal commissioners will be convened and plans to conduct a census of the disabled people would be completed by the end of the financial year.

Later addressing mediapersons, Rajanna said the Palike had utilised Rs 92 lakh of the Rs 4.4 crore allocated in the previous year. However, for the current year, it has failed to spend even a paisa of the allotted Rs 10 crore, he said.

There are many schemes to empower the disabled in the field of education, training and employment, he said. More than 60 NGOs work for the welfare of disabled persons in the City, he added.

Source: http://www.deccanherald.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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People with disabilities need support, not your sympathy: High Court

Bombay High Court
Dec 10: "Visually impaired and disabled persons don't require your sympathy, they need a little support," observed the Bombay High Court on Thursday.

While hearing a plea filed by Nilima Surve, who is visually impaired, the high court was surprised that the commissioner of disability had upheld her termination, instead of supporting her.

In November 2006, Chetna College at Bandra had appointed Surve as a junior clerk. But she was dismissed from service four months later. The college had cited "mistakes in her typing" as the reason behind the termination.

The division bench, comprising chief justice Mohit Shah and justice SJ Kathawala, was irked to find that Surve wanted a particular software to be installed to improve her work, instead she was sacked citing "unsatisfactory work".

Surve had approached the commissioner for disability challenging her dismissal stating she had merely sought installation of the software, Jaws, but the college chose to dismiss her in March 2007.

The judges got further annoyed when Surve's counsel Chetan Agrawal pointed out that the commissioner had passed some critical remarks in the order upholding her termination.

One such remark read: "The woman should have acquired the knowledge of technology available and used in the market instead of asking for a specific software."

Additional government pleader agreed that the order was contrary to the legislative intent, after the judges expressed anguish about the observations.

"The order is clearly arbitrary and contrary to the provisions of the [Persons with Disability] Act," Nitin Deshpande said. The high court also called for a meeting of all stakeholders ? government officers, NGOs, representatives of visually impaired and handicapped persons ? on January 15.

Measures to resolve the problems faced by the disabled will be discussed at the meeting to be held in the conference hall of the high court building in presence of the judges.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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AYJNIHH website gets national award

Dec 10: The Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, (AYJNIHH) in Bandra, has won a national award for its efforts to make its website accessible to visually and hearing impaired persons.

The organisation, which works towards the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, has made its website (http://ayjnihh.nic.in) accessible by including software such as screen reader, which reads out the text and image descriptions for the visually impaired. For those with hearing difficulties, the website has uploaded sign language videos.

The organisation received award for the 'Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 2010' on December 3 from President Pratibha Patil.

"We have tried to ensure accessibility to all irrespective of device in use or ability. As a result, web pages can be viewed from a variety of devices, such as web–enabled mobile devices and a personal digital assistant," said R Rangasayee, director, AYJNIHH.

The website received more than 46,600 hits since its makeover in the accessible format.

The design is in the accessible format with features like a screen reader, alternate text for the aid of visually impaired, and navigation mechanism of content in English and Hindi.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Railways provide facilities for people with disabilities

Dec 10: Indian Railways have already manufactured about 2100 coaches which have suitably designed compartments and toilets adapted to the needs of the wheel chair users / disabled persons. It is endeavoured to have at least one such coach in each Mail/Express train.

Fully air conditioned Garib Rath trains have been provided with Air conditioned disabled friendly compartment ad toilet in the power cars.

Likewise in suburban trains, EMU coaches have adequate doorway opening for entry and exit for wheelchair users/disabled persons. Provision of earmarked compartments for disabled passengers also exists in select sub –urban trains, including at Mumbai.

In pursuance of implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act, amenities to make stations, including suburban station of Mumbai area, more accessible to handicapped persons, have been planned to be provided through a prioritized action plan in phased manner. Such identified amenities are standard ramp, parking lots, non–slippery wheel chairs. Railways have also planned to provide facility of inter–platforms for disabled persons particularly, those in wheel chairs. It has also been planned to provide barrier free access through provision of lifts/ escalators over major and important railway stations which have been identified for development as world class stations.

In addition to earmarking of reservation quota of 2 sleeper class berths in a train for differently able persons, separate reservation ticket counters area also earmarked for them at major reservation centres.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways, Shri K. H. Muniyappa in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

Source: http://pib.nic.in/release
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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An online community platform for people with disabilities

Chennai, Dec 09: An online community platform designed for the print–impaired, probably the first such in the country, seeks to make the internet accessible to people with disabilities.

The platform, inclusiveplanet.com, came about after Chennai based Rahul Cherian realised while taking part in the 2008 discussions of the world blind union centering around the WIPO treaty for the blind, that there was a 'massive resource' problem that technology would fix.

Cherian said he represented India in Washington when WBU drew up a treaty with the aim of enabling people with disabilities.

The platform is basically drawn up for the print–impaired with the aim of facilitating content–sharing, information sharing and relationship building, Cherian said.

"The term 'print–impaired' implies that for some reason, physical (such as visual impairment or bodily paralysis) or cognitive (such as dyslexia), the person is unable to access content that is in a 'print' format i.e. words, images and symbols on paper or on screen."

"For such persons content has to be accessed in a wholly different way. In the past, options were limited to Braille and human voice; today, the digital world enables other solutions 'including text–to–speech software,which effectively ensures that content in most text formats can be 'read out' to print impaired persons."

Cherian and his team worked with organisations working with persons with print impairment to understand what the best solutions would be.

"The more we were exposed to the nature of the problems faced by the community, the more apparent it became what the solutions needed to look like. It is an evolving iterative effort that has been changing shape to meet the problem intelligently. "

It uses technology that helps converts text to speech. The screen readers assist visitors to navigate the website, including text–to–speech software, which effectively ensures that content in most text formats can be 'read out' to print impaired persons.

"Inclusive Planet is a social enterprise and our object is to become sustainable through revenue generation and not through fund raising. We have been supported by the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore who have given us office space and countless hours of advice and help," he said.

There are more than 250 million print–impaired persons in the world of whom over 150 million live in developing nations and the site has been designed to address the needs of this community.

Currently, the platform is available in English, Turkish and Arabic. Members created the Turkish and Arabic versions.

"We look forward to creating inclusiveplanet.com in various regional languages. Members from India are already sharing content in various regional languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu and Gujarati," Cherian said. The platform was originally offered in English.

Cherian said that most important is what these members have done and are doing' "they have shared 17500 pieces of accessible content (audio, books in text format etc.), created 260 topical channels for discussion and content sharing, published 13605 comment posts and had 100,000 plus conversations on the platform."

Gopalakrishnan, Training Officer in Charge, National Institute of Visually handicapped, finds the site very useful and disabled friendly.

Instead of going to the library, college–going students can upload and download books, utilising it, he said.

He has also started an education channel on the site, beneficial for the disabled. "I post material on the site and those interested can download or upload it," he said.

The software has been designed and created keeping in mind the needs and challenges of the print impaired community. However it is accessible to a wide range of people, due to the simple design, Cherian said.

Asked if a visually impaired person can be taken for a ride while accessing a website like tourism travel, he said "Everything on the page is visible to the screen reader that is used by most visually impaired persons. There is no scope for a visually impaired person to be unaware of whatA's happening on the page.

For InclusivePlanet.com, it makes sense to be inclusive as the target market is the print impaired community.

"We also believe that it makes business sense for all organisations to be inclusive as there are 250 million print impaired people across the world and they form an important market that have specific needs."

There is a huge opportunity for various organisations to develop products and services that include the print impaired community. "For example the travel market in the US for persons with disabilities is a few billions dollars," Cherian said.

Inclusive planet has a staff strength of 15 and is based out of Bangalore, Chennai and Kochi "with few of us living in each city," Cherian added.

Source: http://sify.com/news/
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Soha Ali learns sign language to play a deaf DJ

Soha Ali
New Delhi, Dec 08: Soha Ali Khan will be next seen onscreen in Johnny.Bollywood beauty Soha Ali Khan has done a variety of roles but playing a deaf DJ is probably the toughest so far and she is learning sign language to master the nuances of her character.

Soha will be donning the role of a DJ in upcoming film Soundtrack', which she says is one of the most challenging roles of her life. "I am playing a deaf character for the first time in 'Soundtrack'. It is an official adaptation of a Canadian film called 'It's All Gone Pete Tong', which in turn was based on a true story. The film is being produced by Saregama," Soha said.

"It is a very interesting character of a DJ, who loses her hearing power but decides to play music despite the disability. I am learning sign language for the film," said Soha, who will next be seen in Sudhir Mishra's 'Tera Kya Hoga Johnny', releasing December 17.

Soha, 31, is also starring in Deepa Mehta's ambitious adaptation of Salman Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' but she is not willing to reveal much. "The film is in the scripting process and we begin shooting next year. It is a very special project for me but I can't say much about it, " says Soha, who is reuniting with Mishra again after 'Khoya Khoya Chand'.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Government Printing Press Bags National Award For Barrier Free Environment

Panaji, Dec 08: The Directorate of Printing and Stationery, Government of Goa has been selected for National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 2010 for outstanding work in the creation of barrier–free environment for the persons with disabilities.

The award was presented by the President of India Smt. Pratibha Patil at a function held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on December 3, 2010.

The Government Printing Press was established during Portuguese regime and is the oldest institution in the printing field not only in the country but also in Asia. Even though the location of Government Printing Press offers little scope for remodeling, several measures were taken to make the heritage building accessible for persons with disabilities under the able guidance of Minister for Printing and Stationery, Aleixo Sequeira and directorship of N. D. Agrawal. The facilities which created for disabled people include creation of barrier free environment putting handrails on both sides of staircase, signage boards in Braille, citizen charter in Braille and barrier free toilet, etc. It has set an example of providing accessibility to public services for persons with disabilities with sensitivity and effectiveness.

Chief Minister, Digambar Kamat in his message has congratulated Government Printing Press particularly N. D. Agrawal for bagging the award and said that the oldest press in the State is now regaining its lost glory.

Aleixo Sequeira mentioned that innovations in printing world are being brought in the State of Goa through Government Printing Press which serves the entire Government of Goa in catering the printing needs of the State.

Source: http://www.digitalgoa.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Yahoo India and W3C India to jointly host 'Web Accessibility' Conference

Dec 07: Yahoo! India R&D and W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) India will be jointly hosting a conference on Web Accessibility. This will be held in Bangalore on 11th December 2010 at the Yahoo! office at Bagmane Tech Park, C.V. Raman Nagar. This conference is part of Yahoo!'s commitment towards spreading awareness about Web Accessibility in India.

In India, approximately 20 million people [Ref Census 2001] suffer from various kinds of disabilities and the challenge lies in providing user–friendly, citizen–centric web–based services to all people regardless of their abilities. Due to the cultural and regional diversity of India, with its 22 constitutionally recognized languages, the problem is even more complex as the work needs to be done to support the development and deployment of assistive technologies for people with disabilities, while factoring in these multiple languages. The Web Content accessibility guideline [WCAG 2.0] laid down by W3C is a key achievement in this direction.

Shouvick Mukherjee, VP and CEO ? Yahoo! India Research & Development says, "Yahoo! is committed to accessibility and enabling people with disabilities to enjoy the Internet experience. In support of this, Yahoo! has been an early adopter of accessibility guidelines across its properties and has been a thought leader in driving web accessibility forward. Further, we are supporting the Government of India and helping to create awareness on adoption of standards, education, implementation and policy level aspects to provide web–based accessible solutions for disabled citizens."

The conference will provide participants with a unique platform to interact and understand the needs of people with disabilities using the Internet and discuss implementation issues. It also aims to capture the requirements for Indian languages implementation aspects of W3C WCAG 2.0 standards, so the consolidated national recommendations can be submitted to W3C for their consideration for possible inclusion.

Shri N. Ravi Shanker, Joint Secretary, Dept. of Information Technology, will inaugurate the conference, while Victor Tsaran, Sr. Accessibility Program Manager, Yahoo! will be the keynote speaker for this conference. The attendees will comprise technology developers, web service and solution providers, policy makers, NGOs and users. There will be presentations by prominent industry spokespeople, government representatives and professors.

Source: http://www.indiainfoline.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Social barriers keep disabled people away from workforce

Dec 06: Persons with disabilities are the last identity group to enter the workforce, not because their disability comes in the way of their functioning, but because of social and practical barriers that prevent them from joining work, a study on the 'Employment Rights of Disabled Women in India' carried out by the Society for Disability and Rehabilitation of the National Commission for Women (NCW) has said.

The barriers include lack of proper access to and around the workplace, lack of education, and the reluctance of employers to hire people with disabilities. As a result, many disabled people live in poverty and are often reduced to begging on the streets. They are denied the right to make a useful contribution to their own lives and to the lives of their families and community, the study says, with special reference to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Describing employment as a key factor in the empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities, the study says that they still remain disproportionately undereducated, untrained, unemployed, underemployed and poor ? especially women. Lack of awareness about their rights is another factor that acts as a barrier.

According to the survey, a little less than half the respondents, 47 per cent, were aware about the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, while 53 per cent were not. There were wide variations in the level of awareness across States, with 80 per cent in Bihar expressing awareness about the Act, while in Uttar Pradesh it was 32 per cent.

The respondents were asked to identify the most important legislation for empowering persons with disabilities, especially women with disabilities. The various responses included the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995, the Rehabilitation Council of India Act of 1992, the National Trust for Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act of 1999, and the Mental Health Act of 1987.

As high as 77.2 per cent of the women respondents could not specifically name any legislation that empowered persons with disabilities. About 22 per cent referred to the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, which provides for a 3 per cent reservation quota for persons with disabilities in government jobs.

A majority of 76.4 per cent of the respondents named various Centrally–sponsored poverty alleviation schemes that provide for 3 per cent reservation. These respondents did not name any legislation/Act, but various schemes and programmes whose guidelines state a 3 per cent reservation for the disabled.

Overall, more than 76 per cent of the women respondents were satisfied with the implementation of the specification of providing a 3 per cent reservation quota in government jobs for disabled individuals. However, the level of satisfaction varied across States, with maximum satisfaction ? approximately 85 per cent ? in Rajasthan, and the minimum, 58 per cent, in Tamil Nadu.

Three per cent of women ? mainly from Rajasthan ? stated that they sometimes had to face sexual harassment. They said there was no mechanism in place to redress such grievances.According to the Census 2001, there are 2.19 crore people with disabilities in India, which constitutes 2.13 per cent of the total population. This includes persons with visual, hearing, speech, locomotor and mental disabilities.

Seventy–five per cent of disabled persons live in rural areas; 49 per cent of the disabled population is literate; and only 34 per cent is employed in some or other way. There are 93.01 lakh women with disabilities, which constitutes 42.46 per cent of total disabled population.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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JPMorgan's Goyal Gets Indian Award Honoring Disabled Employees

Dec 04: Ashish Goyal, a London–based portfolio manager at JPMorgan Chase & Co., yesterday received an Indian presidential award given to the nation's most accomplished disabled employees.

Goyal, who is blind, was given the National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 2010, according to a statement from the ministry of social justice and empowerment.

Goyal, who has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, joined the New York–based bank as an associate in 2008.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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Cerebral palsy, leading cause of child disability

New Delhi, Dec 3: Cerebral palsy, a brain–related disorder, is a major cause of disability among children and early diagnosis is crucial in treating the condition effectively, doctors said on World Disability Day Friday.

'Cerebral palsy can be dealt with affection, and if proper care of the child is taken. But, the problem is that people are unaware about this disorder. That is making it one of the major causes for disability among children,' said Monika Juneja, incharge of child development clinic at Lok Nayak Hospital in the capital. The disorder often occurs at a premature age, affecting the brain development of children.

'The child suffers from paucity of movement, poor balance and co–ordination and in some cases blindness, and severe cognitive impairment,' Juneja added.

Doctors estimate up to 3 cases of cerebral palsy per 1,000 live births, while nearly 25 lakh individuals are affected by the disease in the country. Early diagnosis of the disorder is crucial, believe experts.

'The earlier the treatment begins the more chances children have to overcome their disability,' said Juneja.

Doctors also suggested that apart from regular physiotherapy and occupational therapy, emphasis also needs to be on creating awareness.

'There is a need to educate people on dispelling the social and medical myths associated with the disease. Cerebral palsy is curable, and is a development–related disorder,' said G.P. Dureja from the Delhi Pain Management Centre.

Source: http://sify.com/news/
Posted by Aqeel Qureshi

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