Hyderabad: Differently-abled persons in the city have a lot to rejoice this week, with the Parliament finally passing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, which promises to make the world a better place for them on Friday.
However, the celebrations are yet to be seen, because the differently-abled here are not sure how the bill will be implemented when the benefits promised by the older one, the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, is still on paper. Moreover, the new bill, which comes with 119 amendments to the previous Act, covers 19 categories, now including cerebral palsy, autism, etc., instead of the earlier seven.
“It is better than the existing law but we have to wait and see how it is implemented,” says P Sudhakara Reddy, Director, Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP).
“Despite laws, the differently-abled are always subjected to discrimination everyday, everywhere. Implementation has to be done at the ground level to eradicate that,” he adds.
Several public places, from movie theatres to bus stations and from roads to footpaths, are not friendly to the differently-abled here, who according to the 2011 census, comprise 12.2 per cent (43.04 lakh) of the State’s 3.52 crore population.
Take the case of Dinesh Kumar, for whom living an independent life has always been a challenge. The 24-year-old marketing professional wants a barrier-free city for his ilk. “I commute on my tricycle everyday and I come across too many obstacles. If I get a friendly environment, half of my problems are solved,” he says.
“Apart from ramps and wheelchairs at some places, the city has a long way to go to become accessible and friendly to the differently-abled. Most government offices in the city have neither a ramp nor an elevator,” points out Reddy.
Rules specify accessible atmosphere and transportation for persons with differently-abled , but whether it is the visually impaired Prakruti, wheelchair-bound Dinesh Kumar or Rudra Prasad, who walks with his two hands to get to work everyday, the common thread is the constant misery in a city that remains cold to their plight.
“Many differently-abled persons are unable to fulfill their dreams due to lack of access and a barrier-free environment. One will understand the enormity of the situation only if they step into the shoes of the differently-abled,” adds Reddy.
However, deep within, hope is still alive.
“The Bill is definitely going to have a major impact on the lives of the differently-abled people in the city. They have been waiting for this,” says B Sailaja, Joint Managing Director, Telangana Vikalangula Co-operative Corporation.