Expedite law to empower disabled: President

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday urged the government to expedite a new law to empower people with disabilities, saying such people fully participate in social life and the entire community benefits when barriers to their inclusion are removed.

"I urge the government to complete the remaining stages of consultation expeditiously and to introduce the bill in parliament as early as possible," Mukherjee said while giving away National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities here.

He said the government was in the process of replacing Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, with a more comprehensive new legislation in consonance with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

"Persons with disabilities participate fully in social life and the entire community benefits when barriers to their inclusion are removed. Barriers faced by such persons are a detriment to society as a whole," the president said.

"Persons with disabilities do not have equal access in society to services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or at times justice. This is an occasion to acknowledge the dignity and rights of Persons with Disabilities and to re-dedicate ourselves to their empowerment," he said.

Noting the government has created a separate Department of Disability Affairs last year, Mukherjee urged all state governments to have a similar arrangement to give more focus to issues confronting people with disabilities.

He also urged the Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Women and Child Development, Human Resource Development, Health and Family Welfare and Labour and Employment to work in unison to achieve the results.

Noting the goal of inclusive and universal education was being pursued under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mukherjee said there was also a need to ensure that children with special needs have access to education.

He also said simple aids such as hearing devices, limb prosthesis, wheel-chairs and Braille writing equipment facilitate mobility and communication should be provided to such people to improve their functional capacity.

He said all central ministries and organisations under their control must take immediate and comprehensive steps to ensure that reservation for this category was effectively implemented in letter and spirit and backlog of vacancies in all establishments in the government should be filled as early as possible.

"I also request the private sector to employ more and more persons with disabilities," he said.

The president also urged states to appoint full-time independent commissioners for Persons with Disabilities at the earliest possible to function effectively for grievance redressal.

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