National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People

Issue Based Advocacy with Ministry

1. Ministry of Education

Globally, education faces challenges from conflicts, disasters, economic disparities, and technological shifts. The pandemic worsened these issues, affecting schools worldwide, risking setbacks for over 1 billion children, as per UNICEF.

With India announcing its New Education Policy (NEP) after three decades, NCPEDP came out with a White Paper to examine the scope of inclusive education in light of the new policy and existing laws as well as the barriers that confront students with disabilities and provide recommendations for the same. To name a few, the White Paper revealed that:

  • In 2018-19, only 29.47% of Indian schools enrolled children with disabilities, varying significantly between states.
  • Schools for developmental disabilities, backed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, often lack formal Board of Education affiliations.
  • Transparency issues in state budgets hinder effective fund allocation for education.
  • Disparities persist in funding allocation between schools (Rs. 59,845 crores, 2020-21) and higher education (Rs. 39,466 crores, 2020-21).
  • The ongoing Covid-19 crisis raises worries about increased dropout rates among students with disabilities.
  • Successful NEP implementation for students with disabilities is critical at both Central and State Levels.

2. Ministry of Home Affairs

India has one of the largest concentrations of persons with disability in the world, but struggles to quantify the numbers. The 2011 census reports around 26 million persons with disabilities while NGOs and the disability sector suggest 70-100 million. Concerns arise within the disability sector that without focused measures in the Census 2024 framework, persons with disabilities will be excluded from policies and programs, hindering the measurement of their progress in various development aspects compared to the larger population.

With ambiguity looming around the upcoming 16th Census, the focus is on engagement with the Office of the Registrar General of India to:

  • Include persons with disabilities at every stage, from planning to execution.
  • Implement a comprehensive training module on disability questions, covering National Trainers, Master Trainers, Field Trainers, Supervisors, and Enumerators, with materials in sign language.
  • Ensure mandatory compliance of digital tools with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

3. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

The National Policy on Universal Electronic Accessibility, established in 2013, aims to eliminate discrimination based on disabilities and ensure equal access to Electronics and ICTs. Despite the provision for periodic review, no update has occurred in the five years since the RPwD Act, 2016, and eight years since the Policy’s inception. Given the growing dependence on ICT products and services, it is crucial to promptly review and align the Policy with current accessibility standards and universal design principles.

Making Websites GIGW Compliant

Accessibility, a fundamental right for persons with disabilities, ensures equal participation. Section 42 of the RPwD Act, 2016 mandates accessible content across audio, print, and electronic media. The Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) issued in 2009 and updated in 2019 emphasize prioritized implementation for citizen-focused, visitor-friendly government websites. However, analysis reveals only 13 out of 49 Central Government websites adhere to mandatory provisions. Advocacy for GIGW compliance promotes uniform, inclusive content catering to all citizens, including those with audio-visual impairments, enabling accessible information and services.

4. Ministry of Finance

The Union Government’s expenditure for persons with disabilities stands at 0.04%, markedly insufficient given that over 2.1% of India’s population is estimated to be disabled. Allocations for crucial areas like the Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act, National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation, and National Institute of Mental Health have either stagnated or been reduced. Persons with disabilities, among the most marginalized groups, have suffered severely during the pandemic, facing challenges in livelihood, healthcare, education, and basic supplies. To address this, there’s a critical need for disability-responsive planning and budgeting, urging intervention at the policy, scheme designing, and budgetary levels for persons with disabilities at both Central and State levels.

5. Engagement with other Ministries

Disability being a cross-cutting issue requires engagement with all Ministries and other relevant stakeholders.

National Disaster Management Authority

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the vagaries faced by persons with disabilities, experiencing double the discrimination and exclusion compared to the others. Despite being a cross-cutting issue across gender, age, religion, geography, and economic background, disability remains largely invisible to the majority. As of November 28, 2021, according to Rajya Sabha Unstarred Question No. 257, 8,390 persons with disabilities received the first dose, and 4,018 received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine through the Co-win portal. With Disaster Preparedness being the need of the hour, NCPEDP’s Core Group on Disaster needs to be sustained to create:

  • Sensitize government authorities and stakeholders to disability issues.
  • Establish partnerships with DPOs and civil society for pre and post-disaster mitigation.
  • Advocate for the inclusion of State Disability Commissioners in the State Executive Committee on Disasters.
  • Conduct extensive consultations with disability groups at the state level through the State Disaster Management Authority.

Awareness Creation

1. Capacity Building Workshops/Trainings

Capacity-building workshops aim to educate participants on newly enacted disability laws, developments like the National Education Policy, and the impact of Covid-19 on persons with disabilities. The goal is to empower activists, individuals, and DPOs to advocate for rights with government officials, especially in rural areas. These consultations aim to raise awareness of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, and a rights-based approach among local leaders for future advocacy. The objective is to foster collaboration between organizations, institutions, DPOs, parents, and the government for the implementation of disability rights.

2. Disability Sensitization for Stakeholders (Govt. Agencies, Private and Public Bodies)

To raise awareness, our focus is on organizing specialized workshops for Disability Sensitization, targeting both private and public officials. These workshops will concentrate on attitudinal and behavioral aspects, providing insights into reasonable accommodation and the universal design system.

3. Awareness through Social Media Campaigns

NCPEDP plans to launch a social media campaign to disseminate information on the rights of persons with disabilities, covering fundamental rights, available benefits, and sensitizing infographics. The campaign will include short online surveys to gauge public attitudes towards disability, using the collected data to promote behavioral and attitudinal changes towards persons with disabilities.

4. Disability Law Units

NCPEDP’s Disability Law Units (DLUs) in different zones are crucial for grassroots outreach. The existing three DLUs (North, South, and East) play a pivotal role in translating policy advocacy from the central to district and block levels. With a network of DPOs and individuals, the DLUs ensure the realization of rights and entitlements. They contribute to capacity building through workshops and seminars, facilitating meaningful policy changes at state and central levels. The DLUs also support NCPEDP’s Legal Aid program with their network of lawyers and activists. Future plans include establishing five more DLUs across India.

5. Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities

The consultation was organized to understand the asks and needs of people with disabilities and to incorporate them into the state manifesto for the upcoming state assembly elections in Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Mizoram later this year. The meeting focussed on identifying key issues concerning persons with disabilities, presenting them to political party representatives for inclusion in their respective party manifestos.

6. Inclusive Health Insurance for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities continue to face discrimination in availing the health insurance facilities, including denial of health insurance, inaccessibility of process, lack of uniformity in tests to be prescribed at the proposal stage for taking underwriting decision, denial and discrimination in claim assessment and settlement on account of disability, differences in how actuarial standards should be applied to arrive at a fair premium, caps on treatments and other expenses in specific policies designed for persons with disabilities, lack of top-up and other optional covers, restricting insurance facilities to persons with benchmark disabilities thereby not recognizing the broader class of persons with disabilities, and extremely low awareness amongst branches, agents and other players. Further, the existing policies do not cover various needs of persons with disabilities with regard to therapeutic treatments, costs for buying / repairing the assistive technology, outpatient department tests that are disability specific, amongst others. 

Against this backdrop, NCPEDP in collaboration with NHRC and IRDAI organized a first of its kind Consultation on “Health insurance for Persons with Disabilities“. The consultation meeting was a well-timed supportive event in the process to document and share suggestive measures for inclusive & affordable policies. With participation from insurance providers and third-party administrators as well as key members from the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the consultation helped understand the existing challenges faced by:

  1. Insurance providers while underwriting policies for persons with disabilities  
  2. Persons with Disabilities while approaching insurance providers specifically for retail policies and
  3. Regulatory authorities such as IRDAI, and 
  4. Discuss and promote the launch of standardized insurance products developed by IRDA for persons with disabilities.

7. National Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (NCRPD)

The NCRPD constituted in 2008 played a key role in leading advocacy campaigns and bringing disability to the forefront of mainstream discussion. The committee has been pivotal in drafting many policies like the Bill on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disability inclusion in the National Education Policy, 2020 to name a few. The next step for NCRPD involves creating a Think Tank with experts and sector leaders in education, employment, accessibility, legislation, and youth. Each field-specific group will conduct research and lead advocacy campaigns.

8. National Disability Network (NDN)

Established in 1999, the National Disability Network has been pivotal in fostering local advocacy groups, nurturing leadership, and facilitating collaboration with state-level counterparts. This network has effectively influenced policy changes at various levels, from villages to the national stage. Notably, the recent rollback of proposed amendments to the RPwD Act, 2016 in December 2020 resulted from continuous advocacy by the National Disability Network partners and NCPEDP. To propel the disability movement forward, creating new partnerships is essential for instigating change and making a lasting impact.

International Engagements

1. Conference of State Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

The CRPD, adopted on December 13, 2006, and in force since May 3, 2008, mandates regular meetings of the COSP to discuss implementation matters. With 14 sessions held at UN Headquarters in New York since 2008, COSP provides a platform to discuss disability-related issues. NCPEDP, accredited to the COSP, organized a virtual side event titled ‘Covid-19 Pandemic and Disability Inclusive Disaster Management’ amid the ongoing pandemic. Participation at COSP enables NCPEDP to advocate for disability issues at the international level.

2. Global Disability Summit (GDS)

The GDS serves as a vital mechanism for garnering commitments crucial for transformative change for persons with disabilities. The inaugural 2018 GDS Summit prompted unprecedented engagement and commitments aligned with Agenda 2030 vision to “Leave No One Behind” and the UNCRPD. While the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities committed in 2018, updates on the progress are lacking. NCPEDP aims to conduct a status study, assessing India’s impact and positioning itself as a ‘Capacity Strengthening body for organizations of persons with disabilities in the Global South.’

3. Parallel Report to the UNCRPD

NCPEDP, along with NDN and NCRPD, submitted a parallel report expressing concerns about India’s compliance with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights for persons with disabilities to the CRPD Monitoring Committee. An in-person submission was made during the 126th Session in Geneva, July 2019. The report highlighted systemic failures in realizing UNCRPD provisions. While the CRPD criminalizes disability discrimination, the RPwD Act defends it based on ‘legitimate aims.’ Deinstitutionalization efforts are lacking, resulting in ongoing discrimination against persons with disabilities. NCPEDP aims to present the status of persons with disabilities before the CRPD Monitoring Committee in 2024.

4. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

India, along with other nations, embraced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, committing to ‘leave no one behind’ and prioritize the ‘furthest behind first’ in achieving the 17 SDGs. Failure to integrate persons with disabilities into all development activities jeopardizes SDG attainment. The 2030 Agenda urges member states to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at national and sub-national levels, serving as reports for the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). In 2020, a national consultation aimed to enable inputs from persons with disabilities into the SDG process, outlining a path forward for SDG implementation for this demographic.

As the leading cross-disability organization empowering persons with disabilities, NCPEDP anticipates reviewing India’s SDG performance regarding disability and contributing inputs for the Voluntary National Review leading to 2030.