Visually challenged children attend the seminar at a Ranchi hotel on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Over 40 disabled delegates as representatives of a global development agency and three NGOs held a summing-up interface with the media in Ranchi on Wednesday.
The session, held after a two-day internal seminar titled “Rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities” served as a roadmap of what governments and NGOs need to do to empower the disabled.
Social workers associated with development agency Sightsavers and three Jharkhand NGOs Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra, Manav Vikas and Chetna Vikas, and special delegates cogently spoke on plugging glaring loopholes.
“The exact number of persons with disability in the state is a mystery,” Arun Kumar Singh, president of Jharkhand Viklang Manch, said.
Singh, who went to attend the session from Jamshedpur, said details of the 2011 census figures related to disabled persons in the state were yet to be made available.
“Census 2001 put the figure of disabled in Jharkhand at 4.48 lakh. Surprisingly, a survey of the state government a few years later put the figure as 2.21 lakh,” Singh added.
Delegates started with problems at the ground level, saying getting disability certificate was a big problem.
Hearing-impaired students fail to get certificates as an audiometry test doesn’t feature among the list of facilities in most government-run centres in remote areas.
As Braille tools are rare, visually challenged students, especially in hinterland districts, face great difficulty in continuing with higher studies.
For physically challenged adults, scope of employment is limited as skill development training centres are hardly developed. They also don’t get jobs under MGNREGS.
Singh added that it was a must for schools to get sensitised. “Specially trained teachers are the need of the hour. Jharkhand has only 400 such teachers, though we need 1,300 immediately,” Singh said.
Sudipta Mahanty of Sightsavers said they worked in the field of education, social inclusion and eye health across 17 states of the country.
“We have tied up with Jharkhand Viklang Manch to launch a social inclusion programme. We will host a corporate sensitisation programme here next month and a job fair in January 2014 for disabled persons,” Mahanty said.