Disability Rights Association of Goa has taken up many causes to benefit and alleviate the suffering of persons with disability. The organisation has now demanded accessibility for persons with disability at gram sabha meetings so that they are able to attend the same and voice their issues.
In a letter to the director and secretary of panchayats, DRAG president Avelino de Sa stated that persons with disability have the right to attend gram sabha meetings and voice their concerns and problems.
DRAG pointed out that the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016 mandates equal opportunity and non-discrimination for persons with disability.
A request was made to direct all panchayats to ensure that the gram sabha meetings are held on the ground floor, documents are provided in an accessible format and sign language interpreters are present for the meeting as mandated under Section 40 to 45 of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016, it said.
The president of DRAG said, “We will be forced to take action under Section 89 of the Act for non-compliance with the above. We also request you to direct the panchayats to nominate a person with disability on the village development and social justice committees to protect the rights of persons with disability.”
DRAG has been made aware that public buildings in the villages are not yet accessible to persons with disability, despite it being 28 years since the Persons with Disability Act 1995 was passed.
The initiative has been taken by DRAG to urge the health secretary to implement the Mental Health Act 2018. Five years later and the rules have not yet been notified.
DRAG has also written to the education secretary demanding accessibility in regular schools for children with disability.
Out of 1,510 schools, only 917 schools have accessible entrances. Of these, only 166 schools have accessible toilets for children with disability as per data shared by the department.
DRAG has demanded accessibility in all schools before the start of the next academic year in view of the implementation of the National Education Policy, which mandates inclusive education.