The government plays a vital role in promoting the rights, inclusion, and empowerment of individuals with disabilities. Through legislative frameworks, policy formulation, accessible infrastructure, inclusive education, employment opportunities, social welfare, healthcare provisions, awareness campaigns, and grievance redressal mechanisms, the government strives to create a more inclusive and equitable society.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act outlines the duties and responsibilities of the appropriate government to protect and promote the rights of individuals with disabilities. These provisions ensure that people with disabilities are included, respected, and provided with equal opportunities in various aspects of life. Let’s explore the key responsibilities of the government as outlined in the Act:
Awareness Campaigns (Section 39): The government, in consultation with the Chief Commissioner or State Commissioner, conducts awareness campaigns and sensitization programs to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. These campaigns promote values of inclusion, tolerance, empathy, and respect for diversity. They also raise awareness about the skills and contributions of persons with disabilities in the workforce, advocate for respect for their decisions regarding family life, and provide orientation and sensitization programs at educational institutions and workplaces.
Accessibility (Section40): The Central Government has formulated rules to establish standards of accessibility for the physical environment, transportation, information and communication technology, and other public facilities. These rules ensure that public spaces, transportation systems, and information and communication technologies are designed and modified to be accessible for individuals with disabilities.
Access to Transport (Section41): The appropriate government has to take measures to provide facilities for persons with disabilities at bus stops, railway stations, and airports, conforming to accessibility standards. They also ensure access to all modes of transport by conforming to design standards, retrofitting old modes of transport, and developing accessible roads.
Access to Information and Communication Technology (Section42): The government takes measures to ensure that all content available in audio, print, and electronic media is in accessible formats. They provide access to electronic media through audio description, sign language interpretation, and closed captioning. Additionally, they promote the availability of electronic goods and equipment in universal design to enhance accessibility.
Consumer Goods (Section43): The government promotes the development, production, and distribution of universally designed consumer products and accessories for general use by individuals with disabilities.
Mandatory Observance of Accessibility Norms (Section44): No establishment is granted permission to build any structure unless it adheres to the accessibility rules formulated by the Central Government. Similarly, no establishment can be issued a certificate of completion or allowed occupation unless it meets the accessibility rules.
Time Limit for Making Infrastructure Accessible (Section45): The government sets a time limit for making existing public buildings accessible, ensuring adherence to accessibility rules within five years of their notification. An action plan is also formulated to provide accessibility in essential service buildings, such as health centers, hospitals, schools, railway stations, and bus stops.
Human Resource Development (Section47): The government focuses on developing human resources by providing disability rights training in various courses and professions, including Panchayati Raj members, legislators, administrators, police officials, judges, lawyers, teachers, healthcare professionals, and community workers. Universities are encouraged to promote teaching and research in disability studies, and capacity-building programs are initiated for families, community members, caregivers, and sports teachers.
Social Audit (Section48): The government conducts social audits of general schemes and programs involving persons with disabilities to ensure that they do not have adverse impacts and address the specific requirements and concerns of individuals with disabilities.
By fulfilling these responsibilities, the government paves the way for individuals with disabilities to realize their full potential, participate actively in society, and lead dignified lives. These initiatives aim to create an inclusive society that recognizes the value and contributions of all its members, regardless of their abilities.