Disabled employment foundation making a difference to the handicapped

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New Delhi, Dec.3 (ANI): As the nation takes its time in realising the sensitivity of the disabled citizens even after half a century since gaining freedom, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) is making a difference to their world as a Woodpecker in a forest.

Describing the role this non-governmental organization is playing, NCPEDP's Director Javed Abidi says the organization is primarily an advocacy organization and plays a crucial role towards creating a better environment for the disabled to live in.

"It looks at various policies in three ways. First, if there is no policy we would advocate for a policy. Two, if there is policy but that's an old policy, we look at ...or it's an archaic policy, we would argue that it should upgraded, should be changed, should be improved. Third, when there is policy and it's a good policy like it's good for the nation, good for the disabled people of India and then it's not being implemented then that's where we focus on the work. We focus on advocacy on implementation. That broadly classifies the work we do," says Mr. Javed Abidi, Director of NCPEDP.

Javed tells that the organisation's paradigm, its theory is that employment is not possible without education. And both are not possible without access. And, none of them is possible without legislation.Till there is no law, things will not change. We are working in all these areas and not just employment," he says. .

e tells how despite it being a 21st century and the country being on the information highway there has been least concern for the disabled in this steady development.

"We have got more than 5,000 Govt. websites, excluding private sector. We are living in an age where you can buy you cinema tickets on a website, book rail ticket on a website, apply for passport , and can do all sorts of things including filing of income tax return. But none of the websites were accessible to the blind!," Abidi informs.

He tells today technology is there. The speech software with which blind people can operate like they can send E-mails, they can type or do anything. Similarly, they can excess the websites too.

Javed tells that his NGO's website (www.ncpedp.org) is accessible to the blind, whereas we are a very small NGO. But why did the Govt. goof up? Why was that awareness not the Govt. for so many years? Neither with the Ministry of Social Welfare and Justice nor with the Ministry of IT no with the Ministry of Telecom ..... and there was no policy. Nobody was raising this issue," "We raised the issue for the first time towards the end of last year. In fact on the World Disability Day (Dec.3) last year, we raised 10 demands. We had a large gathering at India Gate. Around 10,000 disabled came from all over India and we raised those demands. One of the demands was that the websites, the Indian websites, particularly the Govt. websites must be made disabled friendly, must be made accessible to the blind or visually impaired," says Javed.

"The Govt. listened to us, the PM office intervened. They wrote to Ministry of IT and meetings were held and then in Feb.2009, finally the Ministry of IT came out with what is called the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) guidelines for India," he informs.

"By raising such important issues we could wake up the govt. from deep slumber. We were strict in raising issue and the ministries reacted positively. And, within two months guidelines were made. In future, all govt. websites commissioned by the govt. will have to have feature which makes it websites are being made disabled friendly," Mr.Abidi informs.

He says things have started to change for the better. Today, nobody can dare to deny admission to anyone in school or college just because the individual is disabled.

He says that the opinion or concern of a disabled can never be of anyone else, not even the parent of the disabled in the process.

NCPEDP's achievement list includes getting disability included in the Population Census of 2001, sensitizing the corporate world about employing disabled people, marking the University Grants Commission announce schemes for promoting higher education for people with disability, leading a movement to make all public places accessible, partnership with Council of Architecture to ensure that disability forms a part of the curriculum for future architects.

NCPEDP served on the social sector committee of the Planning Commission and is a member of the disability core group with the National Human Rights Commission. By Sandeep Datta (ANI)

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