COMPREHENSIVE DISABILITY INCLUSIVE GUIDELINES

“COMPREHENSIVE DISABILITY INCLUSIVE GUIDELINES”


Context: The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued “Comprehensive Disability Inclusive Guidelines” to States and Union territories for protection and safety of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) in light of Pandemic Covid-19 (Corona Virus).

COMPREHENSIVE DISABILITY INCLUSIVE GUIDELINES


WHAT ARE THESE “COMPREHENSIVE DISABILITY INCLUSIVE GUIDELINES”?


These guidelines which are issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Home Affairs are applicable to all citizens, the following measures are suggested which need to be acted upon by various State/District authorities to give focused attention to protection and safety of persons with disabilities during COVID 19: 
  • All information about COVID 19, services offered and precautions to be taken should be available in simple and local language in accessible formats; i.e. in Braille and audible tapes for persons with visual impairment, video-graphic material with sub-titles and sign language interpretation for persons with hearing impairment.
  • Sign language interpreters who work in emergency and health settings should be given the same health and safety protection as other health care workers dealing with COVID-19.
  • All persons responsible for handling emergency response services should be trained on the rights of persons with disabilities.
  • During quarantineessential support services, personal assistance, and physical and communication accessibility should be ensured e.g. blind personspersons with intellectual/mental disability (psycho-social) are dependent on care giver support. 
  • Caregivers of persons with disabilities should be allowed to reach Persons with disabilities by exempting them from restrictions during lockdown.
  • The Resident Welfare Associations should be sensitized about the need of persons with disabilities so as to allow entry of maidcaregiver and other support providers to their residence after following due sanitizing procedure.
  • Persons with disabilities should be given access to essential food, water, medicine, and, to the extent possible, such items should be delivered at their residence.
  • The States/UTs may consider reserving specific opening hours in retail provision stores including super markets for persons with disabilities and older persons.
  • Peer-support networks may be set up to facilitate support during quarantine for PwDs.
  • Additional protective measures should be taken for persons with disabilities based on their impairment who need to be given travel pass during the emergency period.
  • Persons with disabilities should be given priority in treatment, instead they should be given priority.
  • Employees with blindness and other severe disabilities in both public and private sector should be exempted from essential services work.
  • On-line counselling mechanism should be developed to de-stress persons with disabilities.
  • 24X7 Helpline Number at State Level be set up exclusively for Divyangjan with facilities of sign language interpretation and video calling.


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WHAT IS THE MECHANISM TO RESOLVE THE DISABILITY SPECIFIC ISSUES DURING THE LOCKDOWN PERIOD?


I. STATE COMMISSIONERS FOR PWDs
  • The State Commissioners for PwDs should be declared as the State Nodal authority in respect of persons with disabilities.
  • They should be the overall in-charge to resolve disability specific issues during the crisis period.
  • They will be responsible to ensure that all information about COVID 19, public restriction plans, services offered are available in local language in accessible formats.
II. DISTRICT OFFICERS FOR PWDs
  • The District Officer dealing with empowerment of PwDs should be declared as the District Nodal authority in respect of persons with disabilities.
  • He should have a list of PwDs in the District and monitor their requirements periodically.
  • He will be responsible for resolving the issue within the resources available and if necessary may take the help of Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations/Resident Welfare Associations.

NOTE: Section 8 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 guarantees equal protection and safety for persons with disabilities in these situations. It also mandates Disaster Management Authorities at District/State/National levels to take measures to include persons with disabilities in disaster management activities and to keep them duly informed about these. These authorities are mandatorily required to involve the concerned State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities during disaster management. 
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