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CHILD Protection & Child Rights » IV. National Mechanisms » Child Related Legislations » Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995

In 1992, India adopted the Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Region. As a signatory of this proclamation, India's Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs proposed an act to safe guard the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWD). On the 1st of January 1996 the Government of India passed the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995. The following is an outline of the provisions in this law that pertains to children below the age of 18.

In this act disability is defined as blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, loco-motor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. The act calls for the forming of two central committees and two state committees: The central coordination committee and the central executive committee; the state coordination committee and the state executive committee. The coordination committees are responsible for insuring the rights of the PWD by advising the correct bodies about changes that need to be made in policy and programmes with regard to the rights of PWDs These committees are the central and state respectively focal points on disability matters. The respective executive committees are responsible for carrying out the decisions of the larger coordination committee.

The act calls for the government to take the necessary steps to ensure the prevention of disabilities. In accordance with this agenda, the government must screen all the children at least once a year to determine risk factors that lead to disability and attempt to protect the child from such factors. It is also necessary for the state to take measure to reduce risks to prenatal and post natal mothers and child.

According to chapter V, children with disabilities should be provided free education by the appropriate government. The government must take steps to integrate children with disabilities into regular schools, but also make space for special schools that cater expressly to the needs of these children. In addition to the basic education schools, government are also required to make non-formal education programmes for children with disabilities that help attain literacy, rejoin school, impart vocational training, and provide them with free books and educational material. Teachers need to be specially trained to educate and see to the needs of children with disabilities. The government must also set up schemes that provide children with disabilities grant and scholarships and also provide funds for making buildings disabled friendly. Educational institutions are also required to provide visually challenged students with aids who will write for them.

The government is also responsible for making the general environment non-discriminatory towards PWD by adapting and adding to railways, buses, road signals pavement slopes, warning signals, building ramps, Braille signs and auditory signals, etc. The act also provides for non-discrimination of PWD in employment that can be taken up by them, in government and non-government offices. Institutions that aid people with disabilities are required to be registered by the government and the government is also required to set up a number of institutions to cater to the needs of people with severe disabilities.

The act calls for the appointment of a chief commissioner who will hear complaints or pleas made with regard to the deprivation of rights of PWD. It is also the governments' economic responsibility to take care of any PWD who can not provide for themselves or does not have family support system to do so through unemployment allowances. Under this act there are also penalties doled out to people without disabilities who use services meant for PWD.

In October 2007, India ratified the United Nations Convention for Rights of Persons with Disability. Since then advocates of PWD rights have been calling for an amendment of the PWD act so that it better aligns with the provisions of the convention.

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