Saturday, January 21, 2023

IRDAI need to act to ensure an equal and non-discriminatory Health Insurance for Persons with Disabilities

    - Drafted by Ms. Anugya Srivastava & Edited by Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth

Health insurance is the means to cover your medical expenses if you are at risk or injured. A comprehensive medical insurance covers the cost of hospitalisation, day-care procedures, medical care at home (domiciliary hospitalisation), and ambulance charges, amongst others. A health insurance plan helps you stay covered against various diseases. Additionally, it enables you to boost tax savings. Under section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961, one can claim tax benefits against their health insurance premium. Everyone can apply for insurance. So what is there for the disabled when it comes to insurance?

HDFC Insurance’s explanation below will give us a better idea about the deep routed phenomenon of discrimination being faced by persons with disabilities particularly those with congenital disabilities (those who were born with it):

Depending on whether the disability that a person is suffering from is congenital (i.e. by birth) or accidental, various health insurance providers offer healthcare coverage scopes. Generally speaking, if the disability is congenital i.e. in the event of a person being disabled from birth, the insurance providers do not offer any healthcare coverage. This means that persons who are suffering from congenital disabilities are not eligible for healthcare coverage in the general sense of the word. However, persons who have become disabled on account of an accidental occurrence are treated as regular customers when it comes to purchasing a health insurance plan. Therefore, such persons who were not born with a disability but became disabled due to any accidental occurrence are equally eligible for healthcare coverage as is provided by the various insurance providers. There is a clear set of medical tests and documentation at the time of policy purchase, which must be duly followed and all the details pertaining to the disability must be divulged.”

 

What the Law says on Health Insurance for Persons with Disabilities

Article 25 of the United Nations Convention for Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which India ratified in 2007, states as under:

(e) Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner”

 

Sections 3, 25 and 26 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD), 2016, have made it clear that a person with a disability cannot be discriminated against when accessing healthcare and its other aspects. According to Section 26 of the Act, “The appropriate Government shall, by notification, make insurance schemes for their employees with disabilities”. 

Health Insurance Schemes of Union Government, State Governments and Private Companies

Keeping in view the above provisions of the UNCRPD and RPWD Act, let us take a look at the health insurance Schemes of the Government:

Central Government:

    A. Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana: Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY is the largest health insurance scheme in the world, which aims at providing health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation to approximately 50 crore beneficiaries which make up the bottom 40% of the Indian population. The households included were based on the deprivation and occupational criteria of the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011) for rural and urban areas, respectively. It subsumed the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), launched in 2008.

The eligibility criteria of this scheme for the beneficiaries are divided into two categories: rural and urban:

a. For the rural beneficiaries, PM-JAY covers all such families who fall into at least one of the following deprivation criteria (D1 to D5 and D7) and automatic inclusion (living on alms, manual scavenger households, tribal group, legally released bonded labour) criteria:

       D1- Only one room with kucha walls and kucha roof
       D2- No adult member between ages 16 to 59
       D3- Households with no adult male member between ages 16 to 59
       D4- Disabled member and no non-disabled adult member
       D5- SC/ST households
       D7- Landless households deriving a significant part of their income from manual casual labour

b. For the urban beneficiaries, the workers who belong to the following 11 occupational categories are eligible for the scheme:

       Ragpicker
       Beggar
       Domestic worker
       Street vendor/ Cobbler/hawker / other service provider working on streets
  Construction worker/ Plumber/ Mason/ Labour/ Painter/ Welder/ Security guard/ Coolie and other head-load worker
       Sweeper/ Sanitation worker/ Mali
       Home-based worker/ Artisan/ Handicrafts worker/ Tailor
   Transport worker/ Driver/ Conductor/ Helper to drivers and conductors/ Cart puller/ Rickshaw puller
  Shop worker/ Assistant/ Peon in small establishment/ Helper/Delivery assistant / Attendant/  Waiter
       Electrician/ Mechanic/ Assembler/ Repair worker
       Washer-man/Chowkidar

Ayushman Bharat', has 17 packages for mental health disorders, which also includes psychoactive substance use and covers ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and most of the blood tests.  But Ayushman Bharat, does not cover HIV as of today, though there are discussions to include this condition.  The main limitation of this scheme is that despite its goal of providing health insurance to the poor and vulnerable beneficiaries, the eligibility criteria for the urban beneficiaries exclude disabled professionals who are from vulnerable families living in urban areas.

          B. Niramaya Health Insurance Scheme

This Health Insurance Scheme' by the National Trust covers conditions arising from disabilities, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, and multiple disabilities. The scheme envisages delivering comprehensive cover, which will have a single premium across the age band covering people with disabilities with up to ₹1 lakh for medical treatments under the National Trust Act on a reimbursement basis. It does not require pre-insurance tests, but individuals must enroll with the National Trust and have a valid disability certificate to avail of this policy. Treatment can be taken from any hospital.

          C. Swavalamban Health Insurance

Swavalamban has been designed to deliver comprehensive cover to the beneficiary as well as his family (PwD, Spouse & up to two children), has a single premium across age bands and can be availed by PwDs aged between 18 years and 65 years with a family annual income of less than ₹ 3,00,000 per annum. In order to enable and empower persons with disabilities (PwDs) to live as independently and with dignity as possible, health services and its access to persons with disabilities assume a very significant role. The objectives of the scheme are: 

  • To provide affordable Health Insurance to persons with Blindness, Low vision, Leprosy-cured, Hearing impairment, Locomotor Disability, Intellectual Disability and Mental Illness.
  • To improve the general health condition & quality of life of persons with disabilities.

          D. Employees’ State Insurance Scheme.

Primarily designed to help factory workers handle the expenses following accidents and occupational hazards, the Employees' State Insurance Scheme is available for the workers employed in various factories in India. Under Disablement benefits, the employers’ share of contribution in respect of such disabled employees is paid by the Central Government for initial three years. Permanently disabled persons working in factories and establishments covered under ESI Act and drawing wages up to ₹25,000/- per month are covered under the scheme.  

      State Governments

Although there is no specific scheme which gives health insurance or assistance to persons with disabilities, these are some of the following scheme(s) that give financial assistance to those people who are either injured or battling an illness/disease:

A. Delhi Arogya Kosh:

Delhi Arogya Kosh (DAK) is a scheme which provides financial assistance to the extent of Rs. 5 lakhs to needy eligible patients for treatment of any illness/disease in a Government Hospital and for any illness/treatment/intervention required by the patient undergoing treatment in a Government Hospital run by Delhi Government/Central Government/Local Bodies/Autonomous Hospital under State Government.

          Eligibility Criteria

      Patients with annual family income up to Rs 3 lacs are eligible.

    The patient should be a bona fide resident of Delhi for the last three years (prior to the date of submission of the application)

 The patient requiring treatment for any illness/ treatment/ intervention in a Government Hospital run by Delhi Govt. /Central Govt. /AIIMS /Autonomous Institutes of the State Govt. /Local Bodies.


B. Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (Tamil Nadu)

This Tamil Nadu Scheme provides quality health care to the eligible person through and empanelled government and private hospitals and to reduce the financial hardship to the enrolled families and move towards universal health coverage by effectively linking with public health system. The scheme seeks to provide cashless hospitalization specific ailments/procedures the scheme provides coverage upto ₹5,00,000/- per family, per year on a floater basis for the ailments and procedures covered under the scheme. 


C. Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY) (Maharashtra)

This flagship health insurance scheme of Maharashtra Govt. provides end to end cashless services for identified diseases through a network of service providers from Government and Private sector. Earlier was known as Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana (RGJAY) it was renamed as Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY) from 1st April 2017. it covers beneficiaries under three categories below:


Category A: Families holding Yellow ration card, Antyodaya Anna Yojana ration card (AAY), Annapurna ration card, Orange ration card (annual income up to INR 1 lakh) issued by Civil Supplies Department, Government of Maharashtra for 36 districts of Maharashtra.


Category B: White ration card holder farmer families from 14 agriculturally distressed districts of Maharashtra (Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Parbhani, Hingoli, Latur, Nanded, Osmanabad, Amravati, Akola, Buldhana, Washim, Yavatmal, and Wardha).


Category C:  

1. Children of Government Orphanages, Students of Government Ashram Shala, female inmates of Government Mahila Ashram & senior citizens of Government old age homes. 

2. Journalists & their dependent family members approved by DGIPR. 

3. Construction workers and their families having live registration with Maharashtra Building & other Construction worker Welfare Board.

    Health Insurance Plans by Insurance Companies

Most private insurance companies provide insurance cover to people with disabilities, but not all 21 types of disabilities given under the Schedule of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 are covered by them. For instance- 

A. Star Health Insurance has only one disability specific insurance plan called “Star Special Care”, which covers people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the age bracket of 3 to 25 years.

B. HDFC’s health insurance plans only cover people with acquired disabilities i.e. those who became disabled due to an accident or illness and excludes persons with congenital disabilities i.e. those who are disabled since birth.

C. Tata AIG’s Corporate Health Insurance also covers permanant and partial disabilities due to accidents under their Group Personal Accident Plan. However, their Individual focused health insurance plan doesn’t cover people with disabilities.

Actual State of Health Insurance for the Disabled in India

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued an advisory in 2016 and it reiterated its advisory on 02 June 2020 to  provide equitable insurance covers to persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, there has not been much change in the status quo and onground situation continues to be challenging.

Judicial Interventions in the matter of Health Insurance for the Disabled in India

From the above schemes of Central and State Governments and the private health insurance companies, one may feel that adequate coverage has been given to persons with disabilities. But is it really the case? Let’s take a look at the judicial interventions on various issues pertaining to health insurance of the people with disabilities.

A. In 2009, a public interest litigation was filed by an employee of postal department in the Delhi High Court, on the grounds that the postal life insurance was giving a cover of only ₹1 lakh to the persons with disabilities against ₹5 lakhs for the non-disabled employees. Further, an extra premium was being charged from the persons with disabilities. The Delhi High Court in a milestone judgement, directed the postal life insurance to provide equal insurance coverage and not charge extra premium from the employees with disabilities.

B In 2016, Jai Prakash Tayal, holding a Mediclaim policy had filed a suit against United India Insurance Company Ltd. seeking payment of ₹5 lakh spent on his treatment while the Insurance firm had denied Mediclaim saying “genetic disease is not payable as per policy genetic exclusion clauses". The Delhi High Court ordered the IRDAI to re-look at the Exclusionary clauses in insurance contracts and ensure that insurance companies do not reject claims on the basis of exclusions relating to genetic disorders. It also upheld the judgement of the Trial Court, which stated that a person, suffering from a genetic disorder, needs medical insurance as much as others. 

C. In the case of Saurabh Shukla, an investment professional who has tetraplegia and uses a wheelchair, applied for health insurance and was denied the same by companies Max Bupa Health Insurance Co. Ltd. and Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. on the grounds of his disability and other medical conditions being high risk. Mr. Shukla approached the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, who then communicated this matter with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) directing them to advise the insurance companies to initiate the policies for persons with disabilities. In response, the IRDAI stated that the mechanism to provide health insurance covering existing disability already exists, but they didn’t give a specific reply to Mr. Shukla. Aggrieved by the response of the Insurance Regulator, Mr. Shukla approached the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, to seek quashing of the rejection of his health insurance application by the insurance companies and he also sought the direction of the Court to the insurance companies to issue a health insurance policy to him. In its defence, IRDAI referred to Regulation 8 (c) of the IRDAI Regulations 2016, which clearly states that the denial of health insurance coverage shall be the last resort of the insurer.   

D. The Delhi High Court, in its judgement dated 13 December 2022, has categorically observed that the right to life includes the right to health. It has directed the insurance regulator to organise a meeting of all insurance companies to design health insurance schemes for people with disabilities and introduce them preferably within two months. The court also asked the IRDAI to immediately modify the terminology "substandard lives" in their regulations to ensure that such "unacceptable terminology" is not used while referring to persons with disabilities, and it also permitted Mr. Shukla to approach both the insurance companies once again, and the two companies shall consider his case for issuing a health insurance policy and the question of extending insurance to Mr. Shukla shall be reviewed. It also directed that the proposal shall be placed on record before the next hearing. The Court has also directed both IRDAI and the insurance companies to file a status report two weeks before the next date of hearing i.e. 17th March 2023.

What Needs To Be Done?

Mr. Thakur Dutt Dhariyal, who was the longest-serving Deputy Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities for Govt. of India till 2014 and has also served as the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Govt. of NCT of Delhi for three years, praised the Delhi High Court judgement in Saurabh Shukla's case while also pointing out the need for an in-depth study and examination of the economic viability of providing health insurance to persons with disabilities. According to him, “It [Mr. Saurabh Shukla vs Max Bupa Insurance Co. Ltd. and Ors.] is a good judgement. It upheld the UNCRPD and RPWD Act regarding health insurance for people with disabilities. As far as health insurance premium is concerned, a greater and deeper study is needed to examine the economic viability of providing health insurance to people with disabilities. In cases where persons with disabilities require frequent hospitalisation, the insurance companies should have the evidence before denying their claim to the insurance.”  

It is hoped that on March 17, 2023, the date of next hearing of the High Court in this matter, IRDAI and the insurance companies would be able to submit a proposal of a health insurance policy for people with disabilities that doesn't discriminate on the basis of etiology of their disabilities i.e. whether acquired or congenital.

- The author is a student of Master of Social Work (Disability Studies & Action) at Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai and currently interning at CABE Foundation. The article has been edited by the leadership at CABE Foundation.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Manak Manthan on 14 Dec 2022 - Invitation to comment on IS 15330 - Minimum Requirements for Safe and Independent Access & Use of Lifts by Persons with Disabilities

Creative of the Manak Manthan Event on 14 Dec 2022
Manak Manthan on WC draft IS 15330
Delhi Branch Office-II, Bureau of Indian Standard is organizing Manak Manthan on Wide circulation draft of IS 15330 : Requirements of Lifts for Persons with Disabilities (Second Revision). This standard specifies the minimum requirements for the safe and independent access and use of lifts by persons, including persons with disabilities. Requirements specified in this standard are in addition to those specified in IS 17900 (Part 1) (under print) as applicable. This revision has been undertaken to align the requirements of the existing IS 15330 with the ‘Harmonized Guidelines & Standards for Universal Accessibility in India 2021’ published by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India).

The main focus of this interactive programme will be the discussions of various requirements and changes that are being brought into the standard and exchange of ideas on this draft in  wide circulation. The outcome of the discussions will be shared with the technical committee for further action.

Date and Venue of the Program (Hybrid Mode)

Date: 14 Dec 2022    Time: 10.30 AM

Venue:  Lal C Verman Hall, Manak Bhawan, BIS Headquarters, New Delhi-110002 

Virtual Meeting link : Webex  

Relevant Documents

1. Wide Circulation Draft of IS 15330 : Requirements for Lifts for Persons with Disabilities

2. Harmonized Guidelines & Standards for Universal Accessibility in India 2021 

We encourage you to join in this nation building activity.

About BIS

Bureau of Indian Standars (BIS), as the national standards body, has been formulating Indian Standards catering to the needs of various stakeholders in terms of quality and technological advancements. The standards are finalized through a consensus approach and the collective wisdom of the members of the Technical Committees. 

In order to ensure faster and easier implementation of these standards, BIS has taken the initiative of conducting a Manak Manthan meeting through which the stakeholders can directly discuss and comment on the standards which have been recently formulated or are at advanced stages of finalization. The Manak Manthan serves as a platform for identifying challenges and suggesting comments for improvement of standards and the feedback is made available to the concerned technical committee for addressing them suitably.



Friday, June 17, 2022

Tactile Pavers must be reliable and standardized across built environment - CABE Foundation intervenes in a pedestrian sidewalk project in Delhi

 

“We live in a society that extols mobility, autonomy and freedom.”

~ Steven Mintz


Have you wondered how a person with a visual disability commutes from point A to point B?  A lot of planning and inquiry goes into commuting, things that a person with a visual disability may take into consideration in terms of accessibility are: 

  1. Does the traffic light have a beeper for me to understand whether I can cross the road or not? 

  2. Are the sidewalks clear, safe and have proper Kerbs? 

  3. Do the sidewalks have tactile pavers or TGSIs?


In this article, we provide an overview of Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSIs) and how the CABE Foundation recently identified and highlighted incorrect laying of TGSIs in one of the stretches being developed by a contractor in the Delhi Cantonment Board area and facilitated modifications in the same. 


TGSIs have a specific function and impart specific information about the immediate surroundings. TGSIs act as, and are interpreted as landmarks. The two types of Tactile pavers that we use in India are warning indicators and directional indicators.

  • Tactile Warning Indicators (Dottype)/ Tactile Warning Blocks. Warning indicators, as the name suggests, warn of either a hazard or a destination. 

  • Tactile Guiding Indicators (Linetype)/ Tactile Guiding Blocks Tactile guiding or directional indicators are used to direct the user from one point to another along a safe path of travel. 


Tactile paving should be used on access routes to provide warning and guidance to people with visual difficulties. The need for TGSI’s is critical and requires to be laid out with a holistic integration with built environments. Partial and incorrect laying of TGSI’s may cause inconvenience and may be hazardous for persons with visual impairments. 


TGSI’s should be well integrated and appropriately placed into external and internal spaces right from the inception stage of a built environment. It is recommended to make TGSI’s part of the access route plan. In essence, a clear continuous accessible path of travel is one that provides a dedicated pedestrian space which is free from barriers, hazards or obstructions read more here 

On the 9th of June, CABE Foundation identified that the tactile pavements of the Delhi cantonment area are not placed as per the Harmonised Guidelines under the RPWD Act 2016. It was noticed by the team that the pavements were aligned very close to the edge whereas they need to be placed in the middle of the sidewalk for ease of access and to avoid any hazardous accidents.

“Obstacles such as lighting columns, bollards, signposts, seats and trees, should be located at or beyond the boundaries of walkways. Where unavoidable, protruding objects should not reduce the clear width of an accessible route or maneuvering space.”
~ Article 5.1.4., Harmonised Guidelines and space standards for barrier free built environments for persons with disability and elderly persons. 

Quick Intervention

As the above was brought to notice of the Court of the State Commissioner of Persons with Disability, NCT of Delhi. On SCPD’s intervention basis CABE Foundation’s intimation – a quick intervention  was undertaken by the CEO Delhi Cantonment Board within a week’s time to rectify the ongoing project of sidewalks development within a week’s time,

Challenges

The whole process also highlighted that there are still many areas for improvement as all the other pavements in the cantonment have been constructed in a similar manner. 

Recommendation

Standards need to be kept in mind from the design stage itself to avoid future costs of time and efforts. In addition, it is essential that training of all the stakeholders i.e. the Management, Engineers, Contractors and their staff  need to be ensured before undertaking the implementation of accessibility initiatives.

CABE Foundation strongly believes in standardising the accessibility of built environments in all sectors. We provide accessibility training as well to strive for an end-to-end impact. If you come across such instances, feel free to reach out to us. You can get in touch with us if you need handholding in implementing accessibilty iniatiatives in your institution. 


Friday, February 26, 2021

Election Commission allows Postal ballot to electors above the age of 80 years & electors with physical disability

Election Commission of India has issued a notification under Section 60(c) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951bearing No.52/2021/SDR/Vol.l dated 26 Feb 2021  extending the facility of postal ballot to Electors above the age of 80 years and also to Electors with physical disability. 

Download the notification here [PDF 62 KB] or read below:


Monday, October 05, 2020

Opportunity for participating in CPABE Pilot Exam and get IAAP's CPABE certification at 50% of the listed fee

Dear Colleagues,

The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) is  a platform where accessibility professionals from around the world come together to define, promote and improve the accessibility profession through networking, education and certification. 

The IAAP has, over the past year, established a Taskforce of Subject Matter Experts to prepare certification exams for 'Certified Professional in Accessible Built Environments (CPABE)' credential, one of the programs that were originally developed under GAATES leadership, identifying the need of this professional recognition to ensure universally designed spaces for a greater global impact. It was transitioned to G3ict and is being led by its division IAAP now.

The CPABE pilot is currently open (September 30 to October 30, 2020). Limited space is available! IAAP is currently seeking pilot participants to fill the remaining spots for these exams.  The participants would be considered early adopters of the program content, already have the necessary skills and experience to pass the exam with little preparation. A DRAFT of the Body of Knowledge is also available to guide registered participants. You may read more about it at the following links:

1. The overview of the CPABE Pilot 

2. Registration for CPABE Pilot 

3. Exam Outline to guide the applicants

Exams are completed online with a proctor of your choosing or one assigned by IAAP at no additional cost. If you, or members of your extended network, champion Universal Design in the built environment, meet the certification criteria and would like to take part in the pilot, participants will help to shape the final outcomes of the program before public launch and earn certification at 50% off the list price.

 

Please register today or contact Ms. Tracey Shipman, IAAP's Program Manager with any questions you may have at email tshipman@accessibilityassociation.org


 


Saturday, July 25, 2020

Join Webinar on "A Dialogue on Expectations & Challenges of Persons with Disabilities during Covid19 Crisis organised by NIUA


We are excited to share that National Institute of Urban Affairs is organising a webinar series on "Building Accessible, Safe and Inclusive Cities (BASIIC)" in partnership with DFID (Govt. of UK). As a part of this series, our Executive Director, Mr. TD Dhariyal would be participating in "A Dialogue on Expectation and Challenges of Persons with Disabilities during CoVID-19 Crisis". The webinar is scheduled on 28 July 2020 from 2.30 PM to 4.00 PM.

Other speakers on the panel include Shri Dipendra Manocha, Trustee Saksham Trust, Dr. Shanti Auluck, Chairperson and Founder Muskan The NGO and Ms. Pratistha Deveshwar, a Motivational Speaker.

You are invited to join in. Please register for the event at this LINK

Visit NIUA website to know more about  Project 'BASIIC' supported by DFID.







Monday, June 15, 2020

Sh. Amor Kool speaks at a Webinar on Lighting, Ventilation and Building Envelope Optimisation organised by BIS and Ramco Cement Ltd on 12 Jul 2020

The National Building Code of India 2016 is a comprehensive document of various Indian Standards addressing the most critical and pertinent issues of building construction, varying from Fire and Life safety, structure safety, sustainability or accessibility. 

Informative Banner about the Webinar
We are proud to have two of our directors serving two critical committees in NBC 2016, Accessibility and Sustainability. Mr Subhash Vashishth and Mr. Amor Kool are key members involved in drafting and standards formulation on the said respective aspects of this code of national importance. Both of our directors have reached out to developers, architects, engineers and occupants across India to spread awareness about the topics which are as of now not yet acknowledged but are critical for our future. 

On 12 June 2020,  The Bureau of Indian Standards in partnership with Ramco Cement Limited and Association of Structural and Geotechnical Consultants, organised a web based workshop on 'Sustainability in Buildings and Built Environment as per NBC 2016' where in Mr. Amor Kool was invited to address as the subject expert and a member on the BIS Panel for Sustainability.

The web based workshop began with the inaugural address of the Sh. J. Roy Chowdhury, DDG Standardisation (P&M). Shri Sanjay Pant, Head Civil Engg BIS and Mrs. Madhurima Madhav, Scientist D (Civil Engg), BIS gave an overview of the Sustainability provisions in the NBC 2016.

Sh. Amor Kool speaking 
Mr. Amor Kool, Director -Sustainability, CABE Foundation  spoke on "Lighting, Ventilation and Building Envelope Optimisation" highlighting the importance of designing the built structures post COVID-19 scenario keeping principals of sustainability in mind. He shared pointers through which the design of built environment respects the region and local construction materials. 

"The approach towards sustainability is wholistic, it cannot be categorised and placed under different baskets. It is like in architectural terms, if you miss a centimetre at the start of the line you may loose out a meter at the end of it. Every category is equally important, if orientation is not thought out properly, then not only daylight but ventilation patterns, thickness of walls, quality of glass and many such things have to be re-negotiated." Mr. Kool emphasised.
Q&A Session addressed by experts
He further suggested that if a building is well thought through, the cost of construction should not increase, rather it’ll optimise.  Major takeaways from his talk.  "Everything is linked, every matter in this world, living and non living, thereby, it is critical to have balance. We cannot wait indefinitely to change our designs and the way we perceive our environment if we really want our built environment to be sustainable.” he said.

This was followed by a long Q&A session where Mr. Sanjay Pant, Mr. Amor Kool responded to the queries raised by workshop participants.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

On CABE's representation, DEPwD writes to States seeking disaggregated data of Covid- 19 affected persons by disabilities

New Delhi, 30 May 2020

The number of persons infected by Covid- 19 Pandemic is rising each day and we are sure a large number of persons with disabilities would also be affected due to their enhanced vulnerabilities because of dependence on others. However, it is not known whether disaggregated data by disabilities is being compiled and maintained by the concerned authorities.  

Also Section 8 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 requires the authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities and the DDMAs are required to maintain record of details of persons with disabilities in the district and take suitable measures to inform such persons of any situations of risk so as to enhance disaster preparedness. Article 31.2 of the UNCRPD also obligates the states parties to disaggregate the information and the data to use it to identify and address the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in exercising their rights. Goal 17.18 of SGDs on data, monitoring and accountability also envisages availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by disability among others.

As per National Disaster Management Plan November 2019, a Handicap International study in 2015 (HI 2015) found that 75% of people with disabilities believe that they are excluded from humanitarian responses to emergencies like natural disasters and conflict. They are often overlooked and excluded in risk reduction and disaster response measures. Persons with disabilities are also at a higher risk than others. 

In light of absence of mechanisms for collating disability disaggregated, CABE sent a representation to the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare  on 28 April 2020, seeking consideration of the following: 
i)  The data and information relating to Covid- 19 affected persons (i.e. those infected, quarantined, treated, died, etc.) may be desegregated by disabilities and be made available in the public domain.
ii) The concerned authorities may be advised to ensure that persons with disabilities are included throughout the DRM Cycle.
iii) Specific vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities among the Covid- 19 affected persons should be addressed effectively and with high degree of sensitivity. 
iv) They should not be clubbed with other persons for this purpose. It should be ensured that they are not abandoned after they are released from quarantine facility/ hospital.
The DEPwD, acting on our representation, vide its email dated 30 May 2020, addressed to Principal Secretary / Secretary dealing with empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in all States and Union Territories, has asked them to furnish detailed disaggregated data in respect of persons with disabilities.

Download communications here:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

CABE Foundation conducts online sessions for M Phil Scholars of NIEPA on 22 & 23 April 2020

During these challenging times of the second nation wide lockdown extended till 03 May 2020, all activities in the field have been brought to a halt, however, the online interactions make it possible to do quite a few things, particularly training of stakeholders.
Sh. Dhariyal addressing NIEPA Scholars online

At the invitation of National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), Shri T. D. Dhariyal, Director CABE Foundation, conducted two Sessions for  M.Phil. Scholars studying at the institute on 22 and 23 April 2020.

The interactive sessions focussed  on the issues concerning Inclusive Education of children and adults with disabilities, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and other related Acts such as RTE Act, Commission for Protection of Child Right Act, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act impacting the  Education of children with disabilities (CwDs) . 


The National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), (Deemed to be University) established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, is a premier organisation dealing with capacity building and research in policy-making, planning and management of education not only in India but also in South Asia.

In recognition of the pioneering work done by the organisation in the field of educational planning and administration, the Government of India have empowered it to award its own degrees by way of conferring it the status of Deemed to be University in August, 2006. Like any Central University, NIEPA is fully maintained by the Government of India.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Advisory Work in Malaysia by Mr. TD Dhariyal at the invitation of MCCHR and Malaysian Council for Rehabilitation

10 March 2020, New Delhi

Sh. TD Dhariyal making his suggestions
Mr. T. D. Dhariyal, Director, Centre for Accessibility in Built Environment participated as one of the two foreign experts for consultation and guidance to the “Promise 51 Workshop & Consultation to Enhance the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” (PP51) held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 6 – 7 March 2020 at the invitation of  the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism & Human Rights (MCCHR), the Project Law Strike Force.  MCCHR is a body of lawyers for National Expert Consultations and Drafting of Model Laws for Human Rights Reforms in Malaysia.

Mr. Nagase Osamu, Visiting Professor, Kinugasa Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University, Japan was the other international expert invited for this important consultation by Malaysia.

The MCCHR aims to bring about broader pro-human rights changes in society and within the Malaysian law through strategic litigation on selected areas of human rights; freedom of expression & peaceful assembly, right to fair trial, equality and non-discrimination, freedom of religion and protection of human rights defenders. It also provides strategic litigation training workshops to law students, pupils-in-chamber and lawyers on a regular basis.

The Workshop brought together the eminent lawyers, the experts, DPOs and CSOs to discuss cases of violations of the rights of persons with disabilities and to review amendments to the existing law of 2008.

Group Photo of participants on Day 2
Shri Dhariyal strongly suggested to harmonise the Malaysian Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 with UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and gave specific examples from the judgements passed by him as the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Delhi during his tenure that ended on 31st Dec 2019. The audience was quite impressed by the orders and Suo Motu cases taken up by Sh. Dhariyal for enforcement of the India's Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act and raising awareness of the government machinery and other stakeholders to implement the mandate of the law in true spirit.   Various suggestions made by Mr. Dhariyal to harmonise the Malaysian Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 with CRPD was very well received and the audience was quite impressed by his  orders passed during by him while holding the Office of the Court of State Commissioner for Persons With Disabilities, Delhi, that were cited as case studies.

Mr. Dhariyal was earlier invited by Malaysian Council for Rehabilitation to guide them and the Disability Law Reform group and make a presentation and engage in Q and A at a forum to generate an evidence base to support review of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2008 in December 2019.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Accessible Loksabha Elections 2019: a successful endeavor of Election Commission of India

The motto of ‘Accessible Elections’ was one among the many initiatives of Election Commission of India to make the world’s largest democratic exercise inclusive and participative for all. During the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, special focus was given to ensure the participation of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). A total of 62,63,701 PwDs were registered within an electorate of 910 million. 

Download Press Release No. ECI/PN/74/2019 Dated: 28th July, 2019 by Election Commission of India, detailing the successful endeavour of ECI  [PDF 847KB] or read below:


 


Assured Minimum Facilities in Polling Stations (AMF):

 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

CABE conducted an Access Sensitisation Workshop for North Municipal Corporation of Delhi


Sh. TD Dhariyal, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities 
for Govt. of Delhi explaining the mandate of RPWD Act 2016
01 Mar 2018, New Delhi

On an invitation from the North Municipal Corporation of Delhi, CABE Team today organised an Access Sensitisation Workshop for the Senior Engineers and Architects of the North MCD in presence of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities Sh. TD Dhariyal. Incidentally, the North MCD is also facing notices from the Court of State Commissioner for inaccessibility of sidewalks, street infrastructure, public toilets and office buildings. Hon'ble Delhi High Court has also made strong observations in a public interest litigation filed by Sh. Nipun Malhotra against different civic bodies. The training was organised in this context so that the concerned officials were sensitised and trained on the mandate of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act  2016 and the accessibility requirements under the law and guidelines.


Fig A. Senior Engineers and Architects of the Corporation attending the Workshop

Fig B. Senior Engineers and Architects of the Corporation attending the Workshop

Fig. Sh. Amor Kool detailing the importance of Universal Design while planning and renovating infrastructure. 

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2016 and the Rules notified by the Govt. of India thereunder require the Public Authorities to meet the mandate of accessibility in public infrastructure and transportation within five years of the notification while for organisations (both private and public) need to make their services accessible within two years of the notification of the Act. It has already a year since the law has passed and the ground reality presents a grim picture. Unless the municipalities and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) immediately incorporate and adopt an Action Plan / Strategy Document for achieving the mandate of accessibility for the areas under their jurisdiction, it will be too late.

The RPWD Act 2016 presents an opportunity before the ULBs and developmental agencies to adopt Accessibility Plans for their areas for time bound implementation to promote inclusive communities in addition to smart cities. The time to act is now, before it is too late.