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Right to disability requires proper implementation to break the barrier.

In today's world it is very important for us to talk about the rights of people with disabilities, and how our education system specifically is very unfavourable to these people. The rights of people with Disability Act of 2016 guaranteed a lot of things for disabled people, they guaranteed multiple rights and entitlements. However, six years down the line, most of it has still remained on paper which could be seen recently through a Supreme Court case. In 2021, the Supreme Court gave the judgement in the Avani Prakash versus the NTA case. In this case, the student's answer book was snatched by the examiner and the student did not get the extra hour of time that they are legally entitled to under this particular act. The examiner himself was not aware of this provision which highlights the lack of awareness that we have even in the people who are a part of this entire system. This is a prime example of the laws being made on paper but not been translated on the ground in real life. Another example is the recently released draft accessibility guidelines and standard for higher education institution. These are a set of guidelines that have to be followed by higher education institutions as per the UGC, now these guidelines as with many other documents are extremely ambitious. They talk about a number of rights and entitlements to be given to people with disabilities but even the draft document that has come out is not accessible to people with visual disability, so little thought has been put to it that the policy which specifically targets a certain group of people, those people themselves would not be able to read the policy. This again proves the fact that the people who are making and drafting these rules are not really aware of the ground situation. These guidelines and solutions look great on the paper but there are a number of changes that are required on ground.

For example, each of these guidelines should be followed with a checklist that tells us what actions exactly have been taken by these institutions. Also, since guidelines are just suggestions and ideas that are given by the UGC to the higher education institutions, the UGC right now cannot take any action even if these institutions don't follow these guidelines, this also needs to change. The UGC should be empowered to take disciplinary action against those higher education institutions who are not following these guidelines only then there will be some seriousness with regards to these guidelines being given to the higher education institutions.

In order to ensure that these guidelines are followed, we must also have a regular assessment of what are the requirements of people with disabilities who are studying in such institutions, it should be the responsibility of these higher education institutions to ensure that whenever a disabled person joins their institution, they should conduct an assessment of what are the problems that they're facing and what are the requirements, would they need a certain support system and ensure that those support systems are provided to them at their place of residence, it may be hostels or at the place where they are attending the classes because it is our responsibility to make them a part of our society as much as we are.

These guidelines should also provide redressal mechanism means if the people with disability have an issue, if they are not given the rights and entitlements that are given to them, then where should they approach? Where should they complain, there should be a mobile number or an email id that has to be provided to them if we have to make sure that this law actually translates on the ground. This Act of 2016 which was basically for disabled people, introduced a lot of positive changes in the life of the people with disability. For instance, the number of disabilities that are recognised by the government increased from seven to 21. Now even having mental illness, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Chronic, Neurological conditions, etc, are considered as a part of disability and thus, people suffering from these problems will also be given the benefits under the law, not just this the government has also been authorised to notify any other category of specified disability to be given benefits under this. The law also increases reservation for people suffering from disability from 3% to 4%, in the government jobs, and three to 5% in the higher education institutions across the country, people from this group, that is people suffering from disability between the age of six and 18 years shall have the right to free education so for them the RTE law applies till the age of 18 and not just till the age of 14.

The government has empowered the Chief Commissioner for persons with disabilities and state commissioners to act as regulatory bodies and to act as the places for grievance redressal with regards to provisions given under this. At the global level, also, the UN has adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability in 2006. It came into force in May 2008 and ask the member nations to make sure that they have policies, laws and measures for securing the rights which are recognised in this convention and also make sure that any laws and regulations which are discriminatory to these people are taken away in the due course of time. The government of India also launched the accessible India campaign, which is a nationwide campaign under Department of empowerment of people with disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment. This campaign aims at making a barrier free and conducive environment for all the divisions across the country. This is the time when the Prime Minister of India made a call that people with disability should be called Divyang and not Vikhlang.


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