Persons with Disabilities (PwD) – laws on rights, reservation, and guardianship, Convention on Rights, Copyright exceptions for visually impaired.

Persons with disabilities are individuals having physical or intellectual impairment that prevents them from exploring their full potential. Persons with disabilities are more respectfully referred to as “differently abled”, because their disabilities are not purely natural but often social in nature, inflicted upon them through discrimination and apathy (as in a society that doesn’t make its public places wheelchair accessible).

Persons with disability face various kinds of discrimination. They are looked down upon and sometimes forced into begging. They also find it difficult to exercise self-determination and to make their own choices in life. To protect their rights, the government has enacted the RPWD Act 2016, that, among other things, gives joint decision making power to a person with disability (who is minor or incapable of taking his own decisions) and his guardian, who is usually assigned from among the family relations by the District Court.

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 – RPWD Act

  • It replaced the previous 1995 law – Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1995.
  • The Act is in consonance with the UN convention (to which India is a party), and defines disability as in the UN convention.
  • It recognises 21 kinds of disabilities (as compared to 7 before), including dwarfism, speech and language disability, mental illness, 3 blood disorders, acid attack victims, leprosy cured, etc.
  • Increases reservation to 4% in government posts of all grades. (Government’s decision to restrict reservation to PWD in Grade A and B posts was quashed by the Supreme Court).
  • A ‘Person with Disability’ (PwD) is any person suffering from not less than 40% disability as certified by a medical authority.
  • Provides for joint decision making between the guardian and the person with disability. The guardianship is granted by the District court.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), 2006

  • Aim – to promote, protect, and ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and ensure that they enjoy full equality under the law.
  • India is a party to the convention (signed + ratified).

Marrakesh VIP Treaty 2013, formally the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities, is a multilateral treaty that allows copyright exceptions for persons with visual and print disabilities, so as to enhance affordable accessibility of content such as audiobooks for them. In 2014, India became the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty.

Biwako Millennium Framework for action towards creating an inclusive and barrier free society for people with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific, is a resolution of the UNESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and the Pacific). India is a signatory to this resolution.

Incheon Strategy is an UNESCAP initiative – ‘to make the right real’ for persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.

Our society needs to promote inclusion for the differently abled. Tactile keypads, ramp facilities, large screens, audio output, specialised privacy standards, etc are required at banks and public places.

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