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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 2009 Issue

Right to Education Act to cover kids with disabilities

NEW DELHI, 17 Dec: Children with physical, learning and speech disabilities would now be put under the disadvantaged category in the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

The Cabinet will soon take up HRD ministry's cabinet note seeking amendment in the RTE Act. Another amendment seeks to exempt schools run by minority organisations from setting up School Management Committees. However, the amendment bill will be introduced only in the budget session of Parliament.

In the last session of Parliament, when the RTE Bill was passed, disabled rights groups had protested against non–inclusion of disabled children in the disadvantaged category. Disability will be further explained to include disabilities mentioned in the People with Disabilities Act and National Trust Act. But since PWD Act does not include cerebral palsy, autism and multiple disability, RTE amendment bill will specifically mention disabilities like dyslexia, aphasia and learning and speech disabilities.

Sources, however, said amending RTE to include disabilities is not enough. "Social justice ministry should move a comprehensive amendment bill to amend PWD Act. HRD ministry has done its bit," a source said.

The second amendment states that schools run by minority bodies will be exempted from setting up School Management Committees. The proposed amendment, sources said, will exclude schools managed by minority organisations from constituting School Management Committees. Right now, only unaided schools not receiving any kind of aid or grant from the government or local authorities are excluded from setting up school management committees (SMCs).

The amendment comes in the wake of demand from many states and minority–run institutions that they be exempted from setting up SMCs because it contravenes Article 30 of the Constitution that gives minorities right to establish and administer educational institutions. The amendment will be carried out in sub–clauses of clause (n) of Section 2 of the Act as well as in section 21 of the Act. It will specifically mention that minority–run institutions need not have SMCs. In the RTE Act, SMCs have a big role to play in the running of schools. Half the members of the committee will be women.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Rajasthan to formulate policy for people with disabilities

Jaipur, Dec 15: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today said here that a policy would be formulated for the welfare of disabled persons of the state.

Addressing opening session of a two–day national workshop on 'Livelihood for disabled: Challenges and Alternatives', Gehlot appealed NGOs to play vital role in making the disabled persons self–reliant, and to provide them social security.

The CM said that his government had kept social security of disabled people on priority, and in near future, a policy for disabled would be formulated.

"There are over 14 lakh disabled persons across the state, and we are committed to their upliftment. The government has introduced schemes like NREGA to provide employment to the poor people of villages," he said.

He also suggested for formation of self help groups of disabled people to make them self–dependent.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Insurer to pay Rs 50 Lakh to disabled girl

MUMBAI, 15 Dec: It was a accident that left her a paraplegic for life. She was just 11 years old in 1993, when her life lost the assurance it holds for children. Now 16 years later, the Bombay high court has finally helped ease some of her misery and after pulling up the insurers, directed New India Assurance Company to pay her compensation which with interest amounts to almost Rs 50 lakh.

The high court bench of Justices Sharad Bobde and S J Kathawala on Monday dismissed as withdrawn an appeal filed by the company challenging an order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. And, in response to an appeal filed by accident victim, Shweta Mehta, seeking an enhanced compensation from New India Assurance, the HC castigated the company for its "miserly" attitude and directed it to pay her the Rs 21.23 lakh that the tribunal had ordered in 2007 along with interest. "Pay the difference in amount already paid out of Rs 21.23 lakh at the rate of 12% from date of filing the petition till December 2002 and then at 7.5% between 2003 to 2006 and then again at the rate of 10% between January 2007 till the final amount is paid up."

The entire amount the company has to pay her is Rs 49.48 lakh, and it must be paid in ways specified by the court within four weeks. The court said some money meant for her "inevitable expenses" and for the "loss of fulltime income" will be placed as fixed deposit in nationalised banks so that only she can access it.

The court had earlier given the insurance company an earful after New India offered Rs 5 lakh more only for the victim. It claimed that negligence was on part of Mehta when the accident occured. "Don't act like misers," the court had said even at the hearing while asking the company to open its eyes to the fact that the girl's "life had come to a standstill".

Justice Bobde had said, "Consider giving her more. Will she ever live like a normal woman?"

Mehta had sought an enhanced compensation of Rs 91 lakh. But the company, not willing to enhance the compensation, said the "accident was like a blessing in disguise for her as she could get better education and compensation." Her lawyer though said she deserved more as a person with a permanent disability.

Surprised that the company, which is the third–party insurer, had already compensated other victims, but refused to grant any damages to Shweta, the judges had earlier summoned the general manager of the company to court.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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New software to provide record of children with disabilities

CHENNAI, 14 Dec: Children with disabilities will soon have a comprehensive record online of their personal history, medical intervention and academic performance, thanks to a new software developed by the state authorities of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Promoted as a prototype for national implementation, information from the Data Based Monitoring Software (DBMS) will be uploaded online eventually for the public to have access to the records, authorities said.

"We wanted to create a detailed, child–oriented, software to assemble a database on the children since there is no real data source under the Inclusive Education for the Disabled (IED) component of SSA. The software would help avoid wastage of staff time, since officers will not have to visit the districts in person to collect data," a senior official associated with the project said.

The profile of each of the 1,18,151 children with disabilities identified by the state government will be divided into his/her personal memorandum and assessment record. Along with biographical details, the memorandum will contain information about whether the child attended regular school, received home–based care, was enrolled in a day care centre due to a severe disability or was covered by a special residential bridge course designed for those with mental retardation.

"If a child has received home–based care, the software will have a record of the last four visits made by a designated special educator and physiotherapist. On the other hand, if a child with disabilities has attended regular school, the DBMS will have details about the school and subject–wise academic achievements of the child in each term. The assessment record will have details of medical camps attended by each child and health interventions suggested," the official added.

According to feedback received from special educators and IED district coordinators at a state–wide meeting recently, authorities said the software would also list out peer groups of children with mental retardation since their support was important to aid the learning process. There will be a column for remarks made by specialists.

"The software will also hold records of special educators, the number of children they handle, what sort of disabilities the children have, which NGO the special educator belongs to and so on. The system will enable us to compile data based on any type of search query, be it from a village that a particular group of children belongs to, their school, caste, gender, type of disability, schemes under which they are covered and so on. Since it has not been outsourced, the cost of developing the software was low. We will present the software, complete with all the data, at a meeting on Monitoring and Information System' towards the end of March or April next year so that it can be extended to the rest of the country," the official said.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Teaching programme for blind people, by Braille Web Radio

PUNE, 12 Dec: The first–ever class on Classroom and Radio Connective Live Teaching Programme' will be held by the Vidyawani Braille Web Radio, 107.4 Mhz, at the EMRC building, University of Pune, on Sunday, December 13, from 10 am to 11 am.

Two teachers, one sighted, sitting at the radio station and the other, visually–impaired sitting with visually–impaired students in the classroom, will teach the basics of English and computers to 16 visually–impaired students from the city. These students are from Std 8 and Std 9.

They will be given lessons in basic English and computer skills during the session. Preparation of an attendance catalogue in the Braille script and live radio anchoring, with the help of computer (without the screen reader) will also be demonstrated through this hour–long session. "Attendance catalogues for students prepared in Braille is a rarity, and we want to demonstrate how it is possible to maintain attendance records using the Braille script," says Satish Navale, visually–impaired radio researcher, who heads the Braille Web Radio at Vidyawani.

Anuja Sankhe, the first visually–impaired student from Maharashtra to do a master's degree in journalism, will also be interviewed during the programme. The visually–impaired student, who will be a part of this programme, will also be guided on career opportunities in the field of mass media.

"We want to prove that classroom teaching for the visually–impaired is possible through radio. This kind of a programme is just the beginning for us. Teachers who teach visually–impaired students will also be taught through this session," says Navale.

This is his team's way of introducing the mission of "Integrated Audio learning 2010. "The radio programme on Sunday will be our groundwork to prepare for online competitive exams and how to motivate visually–impaired students to take such exams using the computer," says Nava

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Disabled People Group goes on Hunger Strike

KOLKATA, 11 Dec: A group of disabled persons went on a hunger strike at Barasat in North 24–Parganas on Thursday, demanding the reopening of a health centre that has allegedly been closed by the district authorities.

Forty two persons 20 men and 22 women went on the fast in front of the closed health centre next to Kisholoy, a state–run home for destitutes in Barasat.

"We have been demanding an upgrade of the health service infrastructure for years. But the district administration, instead of paying heed to us, have shut the only health centre for disabled people in this district," said Mamoni Das, one of those in the fast.

The authorities refused to react to the development. One officer said, "We've heard about the fast and will report it to the district magistrate."

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Diploma exam turns test of patience for disabled people

AHMEDABAD, 10 Dec: Darshita Shah, 44, was forced to sit in the parking lot of a college to answer her exam for diploma in food and nutrition. For Shah, this was yet another hurdle she took in her stride, despite having disability to deal with. She had suffered a polio attack in 1966.

This honorary secretary of the Apang Manav Mandal already has 15 academic degrees under her belt. Having recently taken up a course in food and nutrition offered by Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU), she appeared for the exam which began on Tuesday and concluded on Thursday.

LJ College in Vastrapur was her exam centre. When she reached the college, she realized her seat was on the third floor. Authorities said there was no special facility for her. So, she submitted an application stating her inability to climb the flight of stairs.

Centre authorities then gave her a chair and bench in the parking lot of the college. This is an exam Shah will not forget in a hurry. Every now and then, college students would pour out on to the ground within the campus. "It was quite a testing time. I had to try hard to concentrate despite all distractions," said Shah.

This is a mockery of the stringent norms about special facilities to be extended to physically challenged students. Regional director of IGNOU, D Rajgopal, said, "Physically challenged students should be given special arrangements. We will check why the exam centre did not have such facility."

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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IGNOU's sign language course a big boost for hearing impaired students

New Delhi, Dec 9: Giving their dreams wings to fly and making them believe that they can pursue higher education, the Indira Gandhi National Open University's (IGNOU) bachelor programme in applied sign language has been a big boost for hearing–impaired students.

Launched earlier this year, the B.A. Programme in Applied Sign Language has 30 hearing–impaired students enrolled for the course.

Sheena Kaul, a 20–year–old student who is enrolled for the course, said she wants to become a filmmaker after she graduates.

"After completing my course, I want to pursue film–making. I want to make films on people who have speech and hearing impairment," Kaul, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir.

Similarly, Kaul's 22–year–old classmate Renu Ahuja said she wants to teach in a school for the hearing–impaired after completing her higher education.

"My dream is to study more, graduate from here and then get a master's degree and a Ph.D. After that, I want to teach in a school for the hearing–impaired and help improve their condition," Ahuja said.

As they interact with their teachers and fellow classmates, it may seem like not a word has been spoken – when in reality full length conversations and debates take place in gusto in sign language in the classroom.

V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, vice chancellor of the university, said: "The aim of this programme is to develop sign language teachers and professionals who are in great demand but are in shortage in India."

"According to an estimate, only five percent of hearing–impaired children attend schools in India. Even where special schools for the hearing–impaired exist, they do not have adequate technical and teaching staff. We must create qualified professionals in the field," he added.

P.R. Ramanujam, director of IGNOU's Staff Training and Research Institute of Distance Education (STRIDE), said: "The programme helps the hearing–impaired better their life, both socially and financially."

The course was launched in association with the University of Central Lancashire of Britain.

Source: http://www.thaindian.com

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Hearing–impaired man grabs civil service post

Maniram Sharma
New Delhi, 8 Dec: Maniram Sharma was 100 per cent hearing impaired when he first appeared for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams in 1995 at the age of 20. He failed to get past the preliminary stage.

Thereafter he cleared the highly competitive exams three times in the space of five years but his efforts didn't earn due recognition. But all that changed when his battle for acceptance in the civil service was finally heard recently.

He says, "I cleared the civil service exam in 2005 but the UPSC sent me back without allotting any service [posting] as I was deaf. This, despite the fact that there is a mandatory quota for disabled candidates and [that] they are eligible to appear for the examinations.

"I appeared for the exams again in 2006 and went through the same ordeal. I was told that only the partially deaf were eligible. But I saw a silver lining; during the course of the medical tests mandatory before joining the civil services, for the first time, I was told that my deafness might be curable. And [that] it required a cochlear implant."

Sharma, a resident of Badangarhi, a remote village without even a school in Alwar district in Rajasthan state, was born to Kishori Lal and Ram Dei, both illiterate farm labourers.

There was no way the family could arrange for the 750,000 rupees (Dh58,664) required for his treatment. But his saviour came in the form of Supreme Court lawyer Arun Jaitley, now leader of the Opposition in the upper house of parliament, who collected 550,000 rupees from various organisations. Sharma managed to borrow the balance amount from various other sources.

The ear surgery was done at Delhi's Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in mid–2007 and Sharma can now hear partially.

He said, "I had begun losing my hearing at the age of five and became totally deaf by nine. But to hear sounds again suddenly after 25 years was not a very pleasant experience. I put up with severe headaches and suffered from nausea. Many a times I felt like removing the implant to escape the noise that would fill my head."

People undergoing such implants are required to undergo specialised speech therapy to help them distinguish sounds from noise.

Sharma couldn't afford the additional cost of the therapy, which came to 100,000 rupees, but his family helped him get through that period and make sense of what he heard. Gone was the time when a conversation with him involved writing down the questions. He was soon able to even use the phone. Some authorities, however, continued to make much of Sharma's level of disability after the surgery.

"I was told they had no such guidelines or instruments that could calculate the disability percentage of a deaf person after surgery. According to them, one could be 100 per cent normal with a cochlear implant, meaning no longer fell in the hearing impaired category! And the rule says that to qualify in the deaf category one has to be 40 per cent to 70 per cent deaf," he recalls.

Around this time, following the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sharma was allotted a job with Indian Post and Telecom Account and Finance Service (IPTAFS) but it was in no way like joining the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

Not one to give up easily, Sharma sat for the UPSC examinations yet again in 2008 and cleared it with the highest marks among the hearing impaired candidates.

Familiar questions were raised about his level of disability but he was finally recognised as an IAS officer and was recently posted in the Ministry of Communications and Industry's Department of Telecom as an assistant controller of communication account looking after provident fund matters related to employees of the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. The hearing problem runs in the family, Sharma admits. "More than 20 persons in our family have hearing disability. My maternal grandmother was the first person who was deaf. This was passed on to my mother and maternal uncle. Both my sisters are deaf and now my children are also acquiring this problem. My eight–year–old son, a bright student, uses a hearing aid. But when he becomes totally deaf, I will make him undergo the cochlear implant surgery. At least now I know the remedy. And when I look back now at all the hardships faced, I see a sense of purpose in it."

As a child, Maniram Sharma trudged to a school a full five kilometres from his home.
He stood fifth in Class 10 in the state board examinations and ranked seventh in Class 12 in the state board exams.
Became a lecturer at a government college in Deoli, in the Tonk district of Rajasthan – 1997–98.
Did his Ph.D in Political Science and also taught MPhil and MA students at Rajasthan University.
Got through the Rajasthan Administrative Service and set his sights on making it into the civil services.
His aim is to have his other family members cured of their hearing difficulties so that their education is not hampered.

Source: http://gulfnews.com

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Special screening of "Paa" for hearing and speech–impaired children in Mumbai

Mumbai, Dec 8: Special screening of Amitabh Bachchan's new film "Paa" was staged for hearing and speech–impaired children here on Monday.

In this unusual film, Bachchan plays Auro, a teenager afflicted with progeria, a rare genetic condition that causes a person to age faster than normal.

The film, however, focuses on the relationship between father and son, and doesn't talk about the tragic life of a progeria victim.

"I think it was wonderful thing screening for our hearing–impaired children and whatever we can do, we would love to do, and it has been an absolute pleasure and to be able to share these moments with the kids. It gives us lot of happiness," said Abhishek Bachchan.

On being asked whether playing "Auro" was a challenge, Amitabh Bachchan said that an artist likes such challenges.

"I believe that every character is a challenge for us; it is good luck if challenges come before an artist. I believe that an artist should never be satisfied. If he (artist) is ever satisfied, then our inner artist would die. So I believe that challenges should come before us everyday, and I think somebody should think of more and bigger ones for me in the future," he said.

He said he was intrigued by the fact that he would play his own son's son, however Abhishek said he deliberately distanced himself from that real–life relationship.

Source: http://www.thaindian.com

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Bangalore firms turning disabled–friendly

BANGALORE, 8 Dec: Nisha P, 22, brews coffee at a popular coffee outlet here. Murali C, 28, works as systems operation lead specialist in an IT company in this tech hub. Not a big deal unless one realises Nisha is hearing impaired and Murali, visually impaired.

They also reflect a bigger trend: that Bangalore, often referred to as India's own Silicon Valley, has begun employing an increasing number of physically disabled people, not out of charity, but on account of their talent.

"Of late, Bangalore's private firms, including IT companies, are showing considerable amount of interest in training and recruiting persons with disabilities," said M Srinivas, chief executive of the Karnataka chapter of National Association for the Blind.

"However, one thing has to be kept in mind –– companies don't recruit disabled people out of sympathy, but because they are efficient," Srinivas said.

The association's Karnataka chapter became the first organisation in the country to provide computer training programmes for the visually challenged in 2000.

Karnataka is home to one million disabled people –– 400,000 of them visually impaired ––out of a total population of around 60 million, according to the state government.

There are no statistics on the number of disabled persons employed in various corporate houses in Bangalore, but activists say the private sector is making a genuine effort to employ them.

"In the past two years, around 100 visually challenged people through our employment and placement cell have got jobs in IT companies including Infosys, Oracle, IBM and Cisco," said Srinivas.

Shanti Raghavan, founder of the NGO EnAble India that works with 149 corporate firms across India to get jobs for the differently abled, also said the private sector was keen to employ disabled people.

"It is ready to provide training to persons with disabilities, and are trying to provide disabled–friendly atmosphere for them," Raghavan said.

Added Mamatha Sharma, a manager at IBM: "It is not out of sympathy that we're employing people with disabilities. In fact, they are some of the most skilled and hard working people whom the IT industry badly need."

IBM, which has around 200 disabled employees across India, has been conferred two awards for its efforts –– the national award from the central government, and the Helen Keller Award given by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People.

Incidentally, according to the Disability Act of 1996, it is mandatory for all government departments to reserve three percent of jobs for disabled people.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com

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Around the country, World Disability Day celebrated

Unlearning 'Disability' on World Disability Day
MUMBAI: Patrons of the popular upscale restaurant, Copper Chimney, were in for a surprise on World Disability Day. As they took their seats at their tables..........

World disability Day: Empowering Persons with disabilities
The Third Day of December every year is observed as the World Day for the Disabled all over the world. This day provides an opportunity to focus ..........

When will our schools become inclusive?
Discrimination against people with disability is the only one enshrined in law. T oday, with the@ World Disability Day just behind us (December 3)..........

Thousands of disabled people celebrate World Disability Day
We organise the event because on this day (the World Disability Day) we can draw attention to our plight," ..........

Rally by disabled people on World Disabled Day
ALLAHABAD: A rally was taken out by disabled children on Thursday on the occasion of World Disabled Day. The rally started from Balson..........

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Small cars for people with disabilities at railway station

ALLAHABAD: World Disabled Day was a good enough reason to bring smile on those hundreds of faces who dream of travelling in a train but their physical disability stands as a barrier.

The Allahabad division of North Central Railway would now ply battery operated cars at some of the selected stations to help physically disabled people so that they can easily board the train without facing problems. The decision to introduce the cars had been taken in tune with the directives of Railway Board. The battery operated cars would be available at Allahabad, Kanpur, Firozabad, Fatehpur, Aligarh, Tundla and Mirzapur which come under the Allahabad division of North Central Railway.

It has been generally observed that the disabled and old passengers face a considerable amount of difficulty in making movement on the platforms and boarding the trains. Though there is provision of the wheel–chair but it is seldom used. Further, it requires additional manpower to ferry disabled people and the old persons to the respective platforms. To ease their problem, these cars have been designed to carry them on the platforms, this service would be available round the clock at the station and no fees would be charged for using this service. There were many instances where disabled persons had met with serious accidents while boarding the train. But with the arrival of this special vehicle, the problems of the disabled and elderly persons would be mitigated to a certain extent.

To make arrangements for the passengers, Railways had invited proposals from the private party. The latter would be entitled to display the advertisement on the vehicles panel with certain conditions which include that no charge would be levied either from the passenger or from the Railways. Railways will provide only free electricity for charging the batteries of the vehicle. Party shall be allowed to advertise on the panel of the vehicle which shall be bound by the guidelines stipulated for advertisement on the railway premises. The vehicle shall be used to cater only the disabled and old aged passengers. An agreement with the party shall be entered into for a period of maximum one year. Repair, maintenance and replacement, if required will be done by the party.

Spokesperson, North Central Railway RD Bajpai informed TOI that the facility of battery operated cars at the stations would go a long way in ameliorating the problems of the handicapped and old persons.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Disabled people create a film with an all–disabled production team

Fathima Beevi
CHENNAI, 30: Shooting has just been wrapped up in Madurai for the movie Maa', a love story with a difference every single cast and crew member involved in the movie is disabled.

Director Fathima Beevi (pictured) called the shots from her wheelchair. The hero is Deepak TMN, again wheelchair–bound. Cinematographer Rama Rao lost his right leg in an accident. Music director Gideon Karthik is visually imnpaired. So are most of the playback singers and lyricist Valli, who wrote her thoughts in Tamil Braille.

Devi, costume designer, lost her right hand in an accident, but that didn't stop her from creating every cast member's costume and ironing them daily before the next day's shoot. The choreographer, Amutha Rajini, is afflicted by polio but managed to choreograph a dance involving nearly a hundred physically challenged people. The cooks for the unit, spot boys, drivers and every person involved in the movie is disabled. "The only people who are not disabled are the two heroines and me because that's part of the story," says Madan Gabriel, professor at the MGR Government Film and Television Institute, and part producer of the movie. The movie is a joint venture Kalai Vizhi between the Tamil Nadu Handicapped Federation (TNHF) and Madan's Art For Change Trust.

"There are two purposes behind the making of this movie," says Deepak, vice–president of TNHF. "We want to highlight the need of disabled people to get representation in policy–making bodies, from the Panchayat to the Parliament, as our basic right and not as charity. We also want to break the stereotype that disabled people cannot make a movie. Of course, there are other embedded messages like the lack of adequate toilets for disabled people ," he adds.

The movie begins like most love stories. Girl sees boy in bus and likes him. Then comes the curve ball. She discovers he is disabled people and her family changes their mind about allowing them to get married. Boy ends up suicidal, but friend tells him to turn his depression into activism. What follows is a montage of how he can fight for the cause of disabled people .

Cast and crew were picked from a talent search that was conducted in June. Movie was shot all through November and is slated for a January 2010 release. "It's a Tamil movie for an international audience," says Madan, who adds that all the prints will have subtitles.

In December, the group will release another documentary on the making of Maa', called Together We create'.

Deepak had this to say when asked whether the movie will make a difference. "All I can tell you is that right after my shoot today, I had to literally get on my hands and crawl into a bus. My new clothes are dirty and I feel miserable. But it's something disabled people face every day of their lives. So I'm definitely hoping for a difference."

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Lack of proper footpaths in Chennai makes it tough for people with disabilities

CHENNAI, 29 Nov: Special pavement for disabled people by the Chennai Corporation' reads the sign on a wall on Ranjit Road in Kotturpuram. Anbarasan, a person with physical disability, looks at the sign and laughs. Pointing to the condition of the footpath just below the sign, he assures this reporter that even a normal person would find it difficult to walk on it.

Where do you see footpaths nowadays in Chennai anyway? And even if there are footpaths on certain roads, they are not really walkable' – either their condition is bad like the one on Ranjit Road or they are occupied by human beings, animals or non–living things. For people with disabilities, it is particularly hard. The do not feel confident walking on such footpaths and even if the roads are in better condition they do not use them due to the heavy traffic.

"All street pavements should be disabled–friendly. While laying footpaths, universal norms should be followed, such as having slopes at the beginning and end, removal of obstacles in the middle and having enough space for a wheelchair," says Meenakshi Balasubramaniam, disability legislation unit, Vidya Sagar (formerly the Spastics Society of India, Chennai).

Meenakshi says that it is mandatory to have disabled–friendly platforms on all the roads in the city. "We approached the Chennai Corporation for laying such pavements. They put one on Ranjit Road some years ago, where our school is situated, but its condition now is bad. No one uses it." Sankeertana, a disabled student, explains that several times she has found it difficult to get down from pavements. "Some of the pavements are very high. I cannot walk on the road because of speeding vehicles. There is no proper disabled–friendly infrastructure in the city," she says.

N S Venkataraman, trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, an NGO, feels that the government must consult disabled persons before deciding on anything concerning them. "One disabled–friendly pavement has been laid in front of the Chennai Corporation but that is not enough. Lack of such pavements elsewhere in the city is a major problem for the disabled," he says.

Mayor M Subramaniam says the corporation plans to have pavements on all roads being laid in the city. "Steps will be taken to renovate the Ranjit Road pavement soon," he assures.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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They play to fight discrimination against disabled people

BANGALORE: They have overcome their physical disabilities and now are trying to fight discrimination on the sporting field.

Meet table tennis player Raj Aravindam (27) from Chennai, who has been infected with polio when he was one–year–old and has taken up the game ten years back to fight social discrimination against disabled people.

"I have taken up table tennis to tell the world that disabled people are no less than any normal mortals. We are equally efficient, if we get proper facilities and support," Aravindam, who has come to take part at International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games, said.

"Disability has not deterred me in leading a normal life. Because of sports I have been traveling across the world and winning laurels for my country," said Aravindam, who has won bronze medal at IWAS World Games in Chinese Taipei in 2007.

Agreed Nirmal Singh, who has come to participate at wheelchair rugby. "I met with an accident few months back and have suffered multiple injuries including my spinal cord. I have been wheel chair bound since then. I have taken up rugby to tell the world that I am normal. Taking up rugby has come as a therapy to fight my disability also," said Singh, a native of Japiur, who is currently undergoing treatment at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in New Delhi.

The Games was flagged–off at Shree Kanteerava Stadium here Tuesday, and will end December 1.

The international sporting event is hosting 604 athletes from 43 countries who are participating in 11 disciplines, including athletics, archery, sitting volleyball, table tennis, wheelchair rugby, badminton, golf, power lifting, wheelchair fencing, shooting and swimming.

The IWAS is an international sports organization that governs sports for wheelchair and amputee. IWAS World Games is an International Sporting Event which takes place every two years. The event here has been organised by IWAS in association Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).

"The very spirit of sports is to fight all odds in life. Through sports we are also trying to fight our disability. We want to say that we are also as able as any other normal human beings and can play all forms of games and sports," said Esa Peklea Mattila, a 100 metres wheelchair racer from Finland. According to activists working for the rights of disabled persons, discrimination against disabled people still continues. "Be it in the field of jobs or taking part in a sporting event. Disabled people are given very few opportunities. Discrimination and biases against disabled people still continues," said Arman Ali, a disabled rights activist.

An estimate puts that the world has 650 million people with disabilities. Around 80 percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries, with largest number living in Asia. India is home to 60 million disabled people.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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