Life of pride despite prejudice

Interview

JVG Krishnamurthy

Perceptions apart, the differently abled have to negotiate an inaccessible environment. With no avenues, they are most often caged by their disabilities. JVG Krishnamurthy, Director Programme, The Association of People with Disability explains to Anupama Ramakrishnan what these barriers are and how they need to be broken.

How best can the job challenges faced by the community be tackled?

As per Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016, 4% reservations in government jobs are mandatory in Karnataka. The same has to be followed in all departments. Also, the job identification committee needs to meet more regularly. 

READ: Disability rights hit blind spot

Government schemes fare poorly

There are issues in the present 4% reservation. There is a need to change the roster points and all the 21 types of disabilities should be included. More policy level work is required to ensure job reservations.

For private sector, equal opportunity policy is applicable. However, due to non-availability of state rules, the government departments are unable to finalise the available job opportunities for persons with disabilities.

How is the inclusive education scenario in the state?

The state follows inclusive as well as special school approach. So neither inclusion nor special schools cover all children with disabilities. As per the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016, children having disabilities are eligible for 5% reservation in higher education including professional courses. But there is less number of children or youth applying for higher education. Hence there are vacancies remaining.

Majority of the severely-disabled children are out of school due to rehabilitation-related issues. One of the major concerns is the barrier-free environment. Only children locomotor disability can be seen in some private institutions. Majority of private institutions are not following inclusion. Rehabilitation needs are not identified at the primary level and it is resulting in a high drop-out rate at high schools.

Coordination and convergence between health, women and child development and education departments is very important.

Accessibility plays a crucial role in retaining children with disability in schools, but many schools are not having disabled-friendly environment, However, government schools are better compared to private ones. Majority of children with disabilities are malnourished. At urban level, there are therapy centres but not in rural areas. Neurologists and audiologists are required in rural areas.

Are government schemes reaching the differently abled?

Except the severely disabled people, other disabled people are accessing schemes. However, there is less utilisation of government schemes.

There is also a need to increase the awareness level of the people on the schemes and policies that are applicable and ways to access them.

What does the government need to do on an urgent basis for them?

Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016 has to be implemented and there is a need to have state rules to fully implement the Act. Single window systems for social security schemes are essential to avoid double beneficiaries and simplify the application process to access the scheme. Budget allocations should be spent the same year. All types of disabled people should access schemes and the State should come with proper policy to ensure utilisation of all funds.

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