Autism may enter Disabilities Act

Ishaan Awasti of Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par made dyslexia a household word. But this learning disability does not figure in the definition or list of disabilities in the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 or the PWD Act. It is still not certain whether dyslexia will be included, but autism and multiple disability, ignored so far, may soon find a place in the PWD Act when amended. To give a boost to the UPA’s promise to promote inclusive growth and development, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has called a meeting of the central coordination committee on July 21 to go into the PWD Act adopted 14 years back and recommend changes so that it’s in line with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006. India had ratified the convention in 2007.

A draft document of the proposed changes now under circulation will be discussed by the multi-member committee, which advises the Centre on policies, programmes, legislations and projects relating to disability. It is headed by the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik and includes representatives from various ministries, state governments and stakeholders.  “Quite a comprehensive amendment will be required in the Act,” said Wasnik. It includes issues like providing access to public places and employment to persons with disabilities and ensuring their implementation.

Hindustan Times, New Delhi 20/07/2009

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