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Rights of Persons with disability

Published: 13th Jun, 2022


  • What does a disability mean?
  • Constitutional provisions
  • Legislative provisions in India for PwD
  • Some initiatives by the government
  • Issues and challenges
  • What should be done for their empowerment


The ‘Accessible India Campaign’ (AIC) was launched for making government buildings, public transport and websites accessible for Persons with disability (PwD).

  • The Ministry of social justice and empowerment has formed an advisory board to look after this campaign and deadline for its implementation till June this year.


  • As per Census 2011, in India, out of the total population of 121 crore, about 2.68 Cr persons are ‘Disabled’ (2.21% of the total population)
    • Out of 2.68 crore, 1.5 crore are males and 1.18 crore are females.
  • Majority (69%) of the disabled population resided in rural areas.
  • After the government has launched the legislation for Person with disability act, 2016, it is evident that till now no state is able to fulfil the criteria for disability infrastructure.
  • Progress on public transport was less, with only 8.73% of buses fully accessible as against the target of 25% targeted.
  • The DEPwD had raised concerns about the slow pace of implementation of AIC and emphasized on the need of concrete changes in the ecosystem of public infrastructure to make it accessible for Divyangjans.

What a disability mean?

  • Disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
  • Such impairmentis a problem in body function or structure or an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action.

Constitutional provisions

  • Article 41of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) states that State shall make effective provision for securing right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, within the limits of its economic capacity and development.
  • The subject of ‘relief of the disabled and unemployable’is specified in state list of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution.

Legislative backing for Disabled in India

  • Rights of person with Disability Act,2016
    • The Act replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
    • "Person with disability"means a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others.
    • Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
    • Principles stated to be implemented for empowerment of persons with disabilities (PWD) are respect for the inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons.
    • The principle reflects a paradigm shift in thinking about disability from a social welfare concern to a human rights issue.
    • The act added mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, speech and language disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack victims and Parkinson’s disease which were largely ignored in earlier act.

Some programmes and initiatives for PwD in India

  • Accessible India Campaign : Creation of Accessible Environment for PwDs:
    • A nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity.
    • The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication ecosystem.
  • National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities (RGMF)
    • The scheme aims to increase opportunities to students with disabilities for pursuing higher education.
  • DeenDayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: Under the scheme financial assistance is provided to NGOs for providing various services to Persons with Disabilities, like special schools, vocational training centres, community based rehabilitation, pre-school and early intervention etc
  • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP): The Scheme aims at helping the disabled persons by bringing suitable, durable, scientifically-manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances within their reach.

Issues and Challenges

  • Health: A large number of disabilities are preventable, including those arising from medical issues during birth, maternal conditions, malnutrition, as well as accidents and injuries.
    • Healthcare facilities and poorly trained health-workers in rehabilitation centres is another concern.
  • Education: There are various issues such as availability special schools, access to schools, trained teachers, and availability of educational materials for the disabled.
    • Further, reservation for the disabled in higher educational institutions has not been fulfilled in many instances.
  • Employment: Even though many disabled adults are capable of productive work, disabled adults have far lower employment rates than the general population.
    • The situation is even worse in the private sector, where much less disabled are employed.
  • Accessibility: Physical accessibility in buildings, transportation, access to services etc still remains a major challenge.
  • Discrimination/Social Exclusion: Negative attitudes held by the families of the disabled, and often the disabled themselves, hinder disabled persons from taking an active part in the family, community or workforce.
  • Inadequate data and statistics: The lack of rigorous and comparable data and statics further hinders inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The major issues with collection of data and measuring disability are:

    • Difficult to define disability
    • Coverage: Different purposes require different disability data
    • Reluctance in reporting disability as disability is considered to be a stigma in many places/societies
    • Poor implementation of policies and schemes hinders the inclusion of disabled persons.
    • Though various acts and schemes have been laid down with an aim to empower the disabled, their enforcement face many challenges.

Way forward

  • Prevention and Health: Preventive health programs need to be strengthened and all children need to be screened at a young age.
    • Kerala has already started an early prevention programme. Comprehensive New-born Screening (CNS) programme seeks early identification of deficits in infants and reduce the state's burden of disability.
  • Awareness: People with disabilities need to be better integrated into society by overcoming stigma
    • There should be awareness campaigns to educate and aware people about different kinds of disability
  • Employment: Disabled adults need to be empowered with employable skills
    • The private sector needs to be encouraged to employ them.
  • Better measurement: The scale of disability in India needs to be better understood by improving the measurement of disability.
  • Education: State-wise strategies on education for children with special needs need to be devised.
    • There should be proper teacher training to address the needs of differently-abled children and facilitate their inclusion in regular schools
    • Further there should be more special schools and ensure educational material for differently-abled children
  • Access: Safety measures like road safety, safety in residential areas, public transport system etc, should be taken up
    • Further, it should be made legally binding to make buildings disabled-friendly.
  • Policy Interventions:
    • More budgetary allocation for welfare of the disabled. There should be a disability budgeting on line of gender budget.

Practice Question

Q1. What are the various challenges faced by Persons with Disabilities in India? Highlight the measures taken by the government for the welfare of Persons with Disabilities.

Q2. Despite various initiatives by the government to create conducive environment for the disabled community their impact has been limited. Examine. What more needs to be done to empower Persons with Disabilities?


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