Activities : Dharna

Dharna / Protests

The Indian Sign Language (ISL) version of Dharna.

The topic is dharna and protests by NAD. It involves silent vigils and protest.

A deaf person cleared UPSC examination but he was not accepted as an IAS Officer because of his deafness. When NAD heard about it, they protested outside CCPD Office with Disabled Rights Group (DRG) team. The protest was successful and he was accepted as an IAS Officer.

The Planning Commission had always had people with visual impairment and orthopedically challenged people but never a deaf person and we wanted a deaf person to be a member too. This was our demand. Our demand was accepted and Mr. A. S. Narayanan from NAD got involved in the committee.

India never had access to sign language interpretation of public events on TV for 50 years. We presented our demand by protesting outside Shashtri Bhawan, New Delhi and it was accepted.

When NAD heard that ISLRTC was getting merged with NIHH, we immediately demanded for the autonomy of ISLRTC. Because of protests by NAD, ISLRTC was made autonomous.

There were 58 bills presented in the Parliament and only 8 had to be selected. RPWD Bill solidarity rally was organised on February 3rd, 2014 at India Gate, New Delhi. The bill was then recognised.

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Location: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi    Projects: Accessibility
Protest/Candlelight Vigil @ GST on Disability Aids & Appliances

Dear Members/Non-Members, 

We want to inform you that DRG with NAD and Many Other Disabled Groups organise a Protest/Candlelight Vigil about GST (taxes on diability hearing aids and appliances), on Friday, 30th June 2017 from 3.30 pm to 7.00 pm at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. We need 1000 deaf people from Delhi & NCR attending the protest tomrow evening. Pls inform your friends about it. 

With regards from NAD India!  

Location: New Delhi    Projects: Accessibility
Dharna in support for the disabled person, Mr.Rishi Rajbhati

DRG with NAD and Many Other Disabled Groups are organizing a DHARNA outside the DDA, Vikas Sadan, INA, New Delhi at 2:30 pm on Monday, 16th January 2017

Dear Members/Non-Members,

Greetings from National Association of the Deaf!

As you may have read already, there has been an unfortunate case of discrimination against a senior official of the Government, a person with disability.

Dr. Rishi Raj Bhati was recently appointed as the Director (Public Relations) of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and joined the said authority on 10th January, 2017 on deputation. Within two days of joining, Dr. Bhati was handed a relieving letter stating that the nature of the job would cause him inconvenience that would also not be in the organizations interest. The letter also stated that he was being sent back to his parent organization with immediate effect.

This is a gross violation of human rights and clearly depicts the mindset that still prevails against disability. We cannot sit quietly and must take action. For those of you based in Delhi, we, DRG with NAD and many other disabled groups are organizing a DHARNA, outside the DDA, Vikas Sadan, INA, New Delhi at 2:30 pm on Monday, 16th January 2017.

With regards,
NAD India

Grand Assembly: Pass the RPWD Bill in Lok Sabha on 16th Dec 2016 @ 1:30pm at Jantar Mantar, Delhi

Dear All,

Yesterday was a huge victory for all of us but as you know the fight is not over yet. The Bill still needs to pass through the Lok Sabha.

Unfortunately, the Lok Sabha has been adjourned till tomorrow. We now have only one day to go and this is cutting it too fine. We cannot be sitting silently and watching - waiting for the Bill to pass on its own. We all need to come together once again and put in our best efforts to make this happen.

NAD with DRG is now planning a GRAND ASSEMBLY at Jantar Mantar tomorrow - Friday, 16th December at 1:30 p.m. This is our last shot, else all our efforts will go to waste. For all of you based in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi/NCR, please join in LARGE numbers (2000 - 3000 deaf people), with your banners and placards. If the Bill gets passed, we will turn this Assembly into a Grand Celebration or else, God forbid, a protest is in order. We need hundreds of you at Jantar Mantar tomorrow, to make any kind of an impact.

For those of you based outside Delhi/NCR, please spread the word widely.

With regards,
NAD India

Location: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi    Projects: RPWD
Mega Rally In Action with Demand for Passing RPWD in Winter Session of Parliament

This is the last week of the Parliament's winter session. The house was adjourned last week till Wednesday, 14th December 2016, tomorrow. That leaves us with only 3 working days of the House. Will the Parliamentarians rise above politics, spare a few minutes and pass the disability rights bill? 

60 seconds is all it will take to change the lives of 70 million people with disabilities. Today a rally of hundreds of people was held in Delhi to appeal to the Parliamentarians and urge them to pass the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill in this winter session. 

With only three days to go for the Parliament winter session to end, 450 deaf people and disabled people of this nation are slowly losing their patience. There have been multiple rallies and vigils across India in the last 2-3 days since the Parliament got adjourned. Today a rally was held in Delhi starting from Jantar Mantar which ended at Parliament Street, New Delhi on 13th December, 2016.

A delegation of the Disabled Rights Group then met with Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Member of Parliament & Leader of the Opposition, Rajya Sabha and apprised him of the issue of the pending disability rights bill. Shri Azad was also joined by Shri Raj Babbar, Member of Parliament and both leaders not only showed great interest in the Bill but also extended their best support to ensure that the Bill gets passed in the ongoing winter session.

The delegation comprised of Javed Abidi (Honorary Director, NCPEDP); Madhu (Action for Ability Development & Inclusion); Pradeep Raj (Federation of Disabled Rights); Javed Ahmed Tak (Humanity Welfare Organization); Neera Chawla (Muskaan); A. S. Narayanan & Anuj Jain (National Association of the Deaf) and Mohit Singla.

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Location: Delhi    Projects: RPWD
Candlelight vigil seeking early passage of Bill for RPWD

UPDATE ON RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES BILL - The Bill was finally moved today but unfortunately was not passed and the House was adjourned. This, in spite of the repeated appeals the Hon'ble Chairperson himself made to all Parliamentarians to pass the non-controversial Bill.

Three years and counting. How much longer will persons with disabilities have to wait for the passage of the Bill? Time will soon run out and the winter session will be over. Disabled Rights Group came together at Jantar Mantar today in solidarity and to remind the Parliamentarians to rise above politics and pass the Bill. #PassRPWDBill

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Location: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi    Projects: RPWD
The Cabinet expedite the Passage of  the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014

CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 19th December 2015 organised by Disabled Rights Group & National Associaiton of the Deaf to request to pass the RPWD Bill in this Winter Session Parliament.

350 deaf people and cross-disability groups and individuals from across Delhi participated in a candle light vigil as an appeal to Parliamentarians to pass the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 that is currently stuck in the Cabinet despite the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment sending it to the Cabinet on 26th November 2015.

They requested to appeal to the Govt/Cabinet to expedite the passage of the RPWD Bill. After this week, we have just one more week left before the Winter Session of the Parliament comes to an end. At this vigil, they would earnestly appeal to the Govt to please ensure that the Cabinet passes the Bill urgently and formally sends it back to the Rajya Sabha. They would also appeal to all the political parties to treat this matter as a completely non-political issue and to ensure that the Bill is passed within the current Winter Session.

There were Mr. Javed Abidi (Covenor, Disabled Rights Group), Ms. Shamyala (Director, AADI), and Mr. Anuj Jain (Joint Secretary, NAD) spoke related to the RPWD Bill as well as many other leaders of disabled organisations participated in the Candle Light Vigil.

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Location: India Gate, New Delhi     Projects: Awareness General
World Disabled Day 2015

National Association of the Deaf (NAD) & National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) shared organizing the World Disability Day 2015 successfully, we had a symbolic WALK to Freedom at the lawns of Boat Club next to Amar Jawan Jyoti, India Gate, Delhi on 3rd December, 2015. 

A symbolic Walk to Freedom with over 7500 deaf people and disabled people from all over India was held on 3rd December 2015 at India Gate, New Delhi to commemorate both the occasion of World Disability Day and 20 years of the passage of the Act. The participants included people with disabilities, their friends, families, and supporters. The walk also saw Parliamentarians and other dignitaries come out to show their support towards disability. 

All events and initiatives under the Campaign aimed to not just ensure that the disability movement in India achieves the maximum exposure possible (and that too at an opportune time, with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 currently pending in the Parliament), they also attempted to spread awareness about the agendas and imperatives to the farthest reaches of the country. 

Mr. A. S. Narayanan, Secretary of NAD, Mr. Zorin Singha, President of NAD, Mr. Dhananjay Bansal, General Secretary of Silent Sports Promotion Society, Smt. Uma Kapoor, General Secretary of All India Foundation of Deaf Women, Mr. Somesh Sharma, Advisor of All India Sports Council of the Deaf, Lalit Kumar, Executive Member of Delhi Associaiton of the Deaf, Dr. Madan Vasishta, PhD., Former Professor of Gallaudet University, Mr. Sibaji Panda, Vice President of All India Federation of the Deaf & Mr. Vivek Mehta, Chief Technology Officer shared speaking related to an Official Language as recognition of Indian Sign Language in the Constitute, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the celebration of 20 years for the Persons with Disablitied Act 1995. 

Mr. Zorin Singha, President of NAD, Mr. A.S. Narayanan, Secretary of NAD, Mr. Javed Abidi, Honorary Director of NCPEDP, the officials of America India Foundation, the officials of Hans Foundation and Shri Mahesh Giri, Hon’ble Member of Parliament shared the showcases on the stage behind India Gate. They flagged off 500 balloons to the High Sky Up. Mr. Anuj Jain, Joint Secretary of NAD taught the Basic Sign Language Class to the large audience. The Deaf Members of National Association of the Deaf performed the drama related to “United we stand, divided we fall”.

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Location: Civil Lines, New Delhi    Projects: Education
NAD Team met Hon’ble Chief Minster of Delhi Shri Arvind Kejriwal

Mr. A. S. Narayanan, Secretary of NAD, Mr. Zorin Singha, President of NAD and Mrs. Geeta Sharma, Woment Secretary of NAD with Sign Language Interpreter Ms. Surbhi Taneja met Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi, Delhi Government at his resident in New Delhi on 9th November, 2016. They talked with Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi with deep anguish to bring a matter of grave concern to his notice. The Department of Social Welfare, Delhi Goverment has illegally seized more than half the area of the Govt. Lady Noyce Sr. Secondary School for the Deaf. The junior deaf students have been secretively sent to school in North Delhi, situated in Timarpur.

  • First of all, NAD Team want to present the location as well as history of the school so that the ‘reality’ is well perceived and understood generally. During the British rule, around during 2nd November 1931, Shri. Kalidass Bhattarcharyya, B.A. (Gallaudet University, Washington DC, USA), Founder & Principal established a school for the deaf children near Delhi Gate, out of love and care for them. This was the first school of this kind know as Govt. Lady Noyce School for Deaf & Dumb.
  • Many well-known commercial and ancient historical monuments like Chakra-Stambh of Ashok era, Firozshah Kotla Fort, Delhi Gate, Mahatma Gandhiji’s Samadhi and Museum, famous cricket and football stadiums of international standard are situated around this Deaf School which is a pride for us. It is situation between New Delhi and Old Delhi, an important facility for us: – the deaf students and our parents.
  • The first Prime Minister of India – Chacha Nehru himself graced an “Establishment Day” Ceremony of this school which was an encouragement for deaf students. 
  • Few years ago, Office of the Department of Social Welfare of Delhi Government (Congress) was shifted from Kasturba Gandhi Marg to the premises of Govt. Lady Noyce Sr. Secondary School for the Deaf temporarily during the renovation of the Office buildings of the Department of the Social Welfare. At that time the Department of the Social Welfare assured the School that after renovation, the Office will be shifted in its old premises (Kasturba Gandhi Marg). But many years have passed since the renovation completed, the office have still occupied more than half of the school premises, and deaf students of primary classes also are being shifted to Nehru Vihar (Timarpur) School which is located far off. 
  • Being an alumni of this deaf school, NAD Team tried to meet the Principal to know why these innocent and tiny deaf students are being shifted far off and when this office of Delhi Government will return back to its own premises? Their answer was that these students are being shifted because the school has not sufficient accommodation. Now, it is clear from above statement that the Government is working secretly on a mollified plan to hand over the whole land of the school to the said the Department of Social Welfare. 
  • The Department of Social Welfare (Congress) had took a huge advantage of the deaf children and violating the fundamental rights of these students and attempting to tread the mission of Late Shri. Kalidass Bhattacharyya – the founder & principal of this deaf school. Land requirement of the Govt. Office might be fulfilled by allotting some another building/accommodation to them. This has totally destroyed NAD Team’s right of education, otherwise why would the Department of Social Welfare, Delhi Goverment seize our deaf school. 
  • NAD Team have written letters to the Chief Minister of Delhi, Smt. Shiela Dixit, and the Child & Women, Education Minister, Smt. Kiran Walia. But they did not take action anything. It wasted our time since 2012-13. 

Now, different Deaf  NGOs working for the welfare of deaf with NAD Team are opposing this wrongful imposition by the Department of Social Welfare, Delhi Government. All of them are protesting against this unauthorised possession by the Department of Social Welfare, Delhi Goverment. 

In this context, they all are requested to take positive and solid steps to oust the Department of Welfare Social from the school premises.

Shri Arvind Kejriwal listened to them in sign language through Interpreter. He said he will look into these letters and will send them to the Department of Social Welfare, Delhi Govt.

Support the language of 18 millions deaf people in India by establishing an autonomous ISLRTC

The ISLRTC Now campaign is gaining momentum. A petition on Change.org has been created and we are looking for friends , acquaintances to extend their support. Since we focus on accessibility we have translated the text of the petition into ISL for the Indian Deaf Community. It is a request to family, friends , Deaf friends and society at large to extend your support.

Indian Sign Language and its Users cannot be ignored. If we talk of an Inclusive Society for all we need to make sure there is Accessibility in all forms. The Indian Deaf Community needs YOUR SUPPORT.

Location: Shashtri Bhawan Delhi    Projects: ISLRTC
Maha Protest for Demanding the ISLRTC as an Autonomous Body

MAHA PROTEST IN DELHI ON 5th MAY 2015 FOR DEMANDING THE ISLRTC AS AN AUTONOMOUS BODY.

Thousands of people gathered at Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi on 5th May, 2015 to create pressure on the Government to pass the ISLRTC as an autonomous boday

More than 5,000 deaf people from all over the country gathered with just one hope in their heart, that the ISLRTC is an autonomous boday and that the disabled citizens of India do not have to wait another 2 or 3 years to get the ISLRTC as an autonomous body.

The Deaf Community in India is one step closer to getting autonomy for ISLRTC! The meeting with MSJE Minister Shri Gehlot, Secretary Shri Verma and other official resulted in a promise for a meeting the PM Modi within 15 days. All work on ISLRTC under NIHH will be stopped until then. Deaf Leaders are planning another demonstration on May 20 if Shri Narender Modi does not meet them or if their demands are not met.

The great part was the media--TV and newspaper--they covered the news in a very positive way. We were posting clippings, links and clips later. Congratulations, NAD and other organizations that worked together.

Part of the group from all over India that participated in the demonstration. Representatives of the group with Secretary Verma.

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Location: Vijay Chowk, New Delhi    Projects: RPWD
Dharna for Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2013

Hundreds of persons with disabilities once again sat on a Parliament Watch in front of the Congress & BJP offices. This Watch was organised by Lok Sansad, a coalition of people's movements demanding passage of consensus Bills. This includes the Disabilities Bill.

Later, more than 1000 people, including people on wheelchairs and families of whistleblowers who had been killed, marched to Parliament to demand that Parliament function and pass the Grievance Redress Bill, Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, Disability Rights Bill and SC/ST [PoA] Amendment Bill. The protestors were detained outside the Constitution Club. They demonstrated for more than 4 hours.

Rahul Gandhi, Vice President of Congress came to the protestors at Vijay Chowk late evening. He listened to each of all groups who spoke about the problems of bills are not passed yet in the parliament. Mr. Rahul Gandhi said that he will approach the President for the ordinance pass for the bills.

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State Deaf Workshop on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

We organized the first kind of the State Deaf Workshop on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) between 17th & 18th February, 2014 at Auditorium, Hotel, Bathinda, Punjab between 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. There were about 75 deaf delegates from all over Bathinda, Punjab attended the workshop for two days. Mr. Vishal Arora, Treasurer of NAD, and Mr. Ram Singh, Co-Worker of NAD shared the different PowerPoint Presentations about the Human Rights on Video, the human rights/laws, & UNCRPD.

We organized the second kind of the State Deaf Workshop on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) between 2nd & 3rd March, 2014 at Auditorium, Punjab University of Agriculture, Ludhiana, Punjab between 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. There were about 87 deaf delegates from all over Ludhiana, Punjab attended the workshop for two days. Mr. A. S. Narayanan, Secretary of NAD, Mr. Anuj Jain, Joint Secretary of NAD, and Mr. Vishal Arora, Treasurer of NAD shared PowerPoint Presentations about the Human Rights on Video, the human rights/laws, & UNCRPD.

We organized the third kind of State Deaf Workshop on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) between 15th & 16th March, 2014 at Auditorium, Thapar University, Patiala, Punjab between 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. There were about 90 deaf delegates from all over Patiala, Punjab attended the workshop for two days. Mr. Anuj Jain, Joint Secretary of NAD, and Mr. Vishal Arora, Treasurer of NAD shared the different PowerPoint Presentations about the Human Rights on Video, the human rights/laws, & UNCRPD.

It was necessary to have awareness on UNCRPD to help deaf people understand and know the laws and rights of the deaf. It helps to empower them to do themselves by their own decision in their lives in India.

A milestone for the advocacy of the rights of persons with disabilities is now steadily gaining worldwide acceptance and support. This is known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) refers to a document focusing on international human rights of people with disabilities. It was created by the United Nations and is being monitored by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 13, 2006. The Convention was opened for signature on March 30, 2007. It then came into force on May 3, 2008, after the Convention’s ratification by the 20th party. There are a total of 71 countries that have ratified the convention. Some of the countries that have ratified the Convention include Australia, Belgium, China, India, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. The UN.org website has a section where interested groups and individuals can read the latest developments regarding the convention.

The Convention intends to ensure equal rights to people with disabilities. This is done by elaborating in detail the rights of persons with disabilities and setting out a code of implementation.

Guiding Principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:-

Eight principles form the base for the Convention and the articles included in it. Below are the guiding principles:

  • Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons
  • Non-discrimination
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
  • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity 
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Accessibility
  • Equality between men and women
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities

India ratified UNCRPD on the 1st of October, 2007. India was the 7th country in the world and the first significant country to do so. The ratification of UNCRPD was a direct result of the advocacy by NCPEDP and Disabled Rights Group (DRG).

UNCRPD is an international instrument that provides persons with disabilities the same human rights that everyone else enjoys. It marks a radical shift in defining and understanding disability - it moves from a medical/social perspective to a human-rights based approach.

However, UNCRPD is just a paper if it is not implemented. Disabled people have to play an active role in the implementation and monitoring of UNCRPD.

For each change to make the lives of more than 18 million deaf Indians better, we need to understand this international treaty on which the new disability bill is based on.

650 million people, roughly 10 per cent of the world's population, live with a disability, according to the United Nations. In India alone, there are roughly 100 million people with disabilities, which is almost 1/6th of population of disabled people in the world.

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Location: Jantar Mantar    Projects: RPWD
Dharna for Save the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2013

Keeping up with the momentum of the last few days, hundreds of people had gathered at Jantar Mantar today for a candle light vigil.

The demand continued to be the following:

  1. To ask the Government to bring the Bill to the Parliament and ensure that it gets tabled.
  2. To ask the Opposition to please support the Bill and help us in getting it passed.

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Location: India Gate, New Delhi    Projects: RPWD
Maha Rally: Save the New Disability Rights Bill 2013

MAHA RALLY IN DELHI ON 3RD FEBRUARY FOR THE SPEEDY ENACTMENT OF THE NEW DISABILITY RIGHTS LAW.

Thousands of people gathered at India Gate, New Delhi on 3rd February, 2014 to create pressure on the Government and the Opposition to ensure tabling and passage of the Disability Rights Bill.

More than 30,000 disabled people gathered with just one hope in their heart, that the Disability Rights Bill is enacted into a law and that the disabled citizens of India do not have to wait another 2 or 3 or 5 years to get their most basic rights.

WFD message for Indian Deaf Community in support of unity and campaign for RPWD2013

India has about 18m+ deaf and 40m hard of hearing people. Yet, little is being done for education, employment, and other rights of this huge population.

India arguably has the largest deaf population in the world, but it is said that the number of certified interpreters are 250 for 18 million deaf people! Sign language is still not an officially recognized language in the country. The country has no captions on television, no instructions for deaf people at public places, no TTY, no instruction through sign language in deaf schools and no deaf college or a university for deaf people.

A.S.Narayanan explains about the process of the RPWD

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Location: Shashtri Bhawan, New Delhi    Projects: Accessibility
Another Dharna for Sign Language Interpretation of Republic Day Telecast

NAD and DRG held another Dharna in the afternoon outside Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi from 3pm to 7pm on 23rd January, 2014. There were about 1450 deaf people who came from NCR, Haryana, Punjab & Uttar Pradesh alongwith supports of other disabled groups.

Since there was a difference of opinion between the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment on the issue of sign language interpretation on DD National, two things had happened:

  1. the matter got referred to the Cabinet Secretariat for a final decision.
  2. the Ministry of I & B had decided to issue an advisory to the private channels to take the feed from DD News so that sign language interpretation is also available on their screens when the Republic Day ceremony is telecast.

We decided to press one more time that sign language interpretation should be available on all DD channels, especially DD National. If our demand is not conceded to, we will march towards the Cabinet Secretariat/Prime Minister's Office. Members of DRG, NDN and NAD then met Social Justice Minister, Kumari Selja on 24th January, 2014 and reiterated our demand. She had agreed to write to the Hon'ble Prime Minister.

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Location: Shashtri Bhawan, New Delhi    Projects: Accessibility
Demand Sign Language Interpretation of Republic Day telecast on all Doordarshan channels

There was one simple demand to make the telecast of Republic Day ceremony accessible via sign language interpretation on ALL 6 channels of Doordarshan, especially on DD National.

After advocating sternly for this issue for days, we were informed the day before that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Doordarshan will be making the telecast of Republic Day Ceremony 2014 accessible on three channels ONLY – DD Bharati, DD News and DD Urdu. This had hurt the disability sector immensely.

To stand up and fight against this discrimination, hundreds of disabled people gathered outside Doordarshan on Sansad Marg in the evening. The large crowd had then marched to Shastri Bhawan in the beating cold where finally after much wait, a delegation was called in for a meeting with the Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The delegation that comprised of Javed Abidi, Convener, DRG; Syamala G., AADI and A.S. Narayanan, NAD apprised to the Secretary, the disappointment and the agitation of the sector. The Secretary would hopefully be holding a meeting on Monday with relevant stakeholders to take up this issue.

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Candle Light Vigil & Protest to Demand  Pass the Disability Rights Bill on the Eve New Year

The article below was written by Shri Javed Abidi, Convenor of Disabled Rights Group after the Candlelight Vigil took place.

SAVING THE DISABILITY RIGHTS BILL 2013: It is bone chilling cold in Delhi. To top it, it has rained last night on Monday 30th December, 2013. Braving the weather, in a few hours from now, hundreds of disabled people turned up at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi and thus, history would witness that for the Nineth time in India, ordinary disabled people had to turn out on the streets in order to ensure that they are not forgotten or ignored by the powers that be and that their rights are not trampled upon. As candles were lit at 5 pm on 31st December, 2013, a type of a countdown would begin towards that day in late January or early February, when the Parliament would be convened that one last time before Lok Sabha is dissolved and General Elections are announced. It is this one last chance, one last small window that may, just may make it possible for India's 70 million disabled citizens to make their "Tryst with Destiny"

It is heart warming to see this kind of an enthusiasm! We were 1000 hundreds disabled people alongwith deaf people to be there at Jantar Mantar on 31st December, 2013. Not to mention the thousands who turned up at various venues in various cities, all across the country.

DEBATE: Once again, it is a 1995 like situation. The Parliament is at the very end of it's tenure. Elections are round the corner and may be announced at any time next month. Disability sector, as always, had dreams and desires. We worked very hard, first of all, for the Government to even agree that there should be a new Disability Rights Law. The drafting of the law took it's own time and then, all the loops and bends of the law making process. Finally, we have a Bill that has been passed by the Union Cabinet! The Bill may not have everything for everyone, but it does have a lot that we don't have today in this country; provisions that would benefit thousands and thousands perhaps millions of people with disabilities. If sanity prevails, this Bill may become an Act next month. However, if confusion is created and the Bill gets deferred, I am willing to lay a bet in this open forum that no new Disability Rights Law (this version or any other/better version) would see the light of the day till at least 2015. The sector in general and hundreds and thousands of disabled people in particular would end up paying a very big price; to not be able to get their very basic rights for at least another two more years. Friends, it has been over four years already. Are we willing to kill two more years in the search of that elusive 'perfection'?

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Location: Shashtri Bhawan, New Delhi    Projects: RPWD
Rights of Persons with Disabilities Movement

The Disabled Rights Group (DRG)  had organized a dharna in front of the Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi on 19th December, 2013. There was about 500 deaf people from National Association of the Deaf, who participated in the protest alongwith the different disabled groups. The new Disability Rights bill that was to be tabled in the Parliament did not happen due to the sudden adjournment of the Rajya Sabha on 18th December, 2013.

During the dharna, a DRG delegation was called in by the Secretary, Department of Disability Affairs, where she herself expressed shock over the sine die adjournment of the Upper house. The delegation along with the Secretary later met the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment the next morning to carve out a way forward.

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Location: Shashtri Bhawan, Delhi    Projects: Accessibility RPWD
Dharna by NAD & DRG for Sign Language Interpretation of Republic Day Telecast

After our Dharna on Friday (17th January 2013), the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has come under a lot of pressure. Secretary, MI&B has asked Secretary, MSJE to convene a meeting on Monday 20th January, 2013. Hundreds of people with disabilities gathered at Shastri Bhawan to demand Sign Language interpretation of Republic Day telecast on DD National at Shastri Bhawan , Delhi. Ministry of Defence, Prasar Bharati, and Doordarshan are present. That's when it would be decided if sign language interpretation would be available on only 3 DD Channels or on all the 6 DD Channels, especially DD National. To be honest, just the idea of an inset box with a sign language interpreter on an Indian television screen is in itself a huge, historic breakthrough. First time ever since independence; 6 years after India ratified UNCRPD. To have this on not just DD News but 3 channels of Doordarshan is not too bad a deal but we are out here to make an example.

A meeting was held at 3 pm in the Ministry of Social Justice. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Defence, Doordarshan, etc were all present. It was an unsuccessful meeting, clearly visible that the bureaucrats from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting come with a closed mind. They were finding ways to kill time, with only five days away from Republic Day. We weren’t impressed as the same information was repeatedly being passed to us i.e., 3 channels with the support of sign language interpretation, which was unacceptable. We came out and had shared the bad news with the crowd. Before we even knew, they all got very angry and marched inside Shastri Bhawan pushing aside the guards and the security personnel. For a moment, my heart skipped a beat. We went in, pacified the people, and they all sat on a Dharna right there, at the entry gate of MI&B. This went on till about 8 pm. Finally, the Secretary MI&B called us again and we went in for a 2nd round of talks. This time, he was a bit more open. He asked us to wait till the next day. They have got the file from Doordarshan/Prasar Bharati. They will examine the concerns raised and supposedly put up the file to the Minister, Manish Tewari. So we waited.

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Location: India Gate to Jantar Mantar, New Delhi    Projects: Awareness
World Disability Day 2012, Recognise Indian Sign Language as one of the official languages of India

On the occasion of World Disability Day, 3rd December 2012, National Association of the Deaf (NAD) received participation of more than 10,000 deaf persons today. Deaf persons came from 20 different states including Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh. Their demand was to meet the Home Minister to discuss on including Indian Sign Language as one of the official languages of India.

NAD started the solidarity rally at 11.00 a.m. from India Gate and finished at 12.00 p.m. at Jantar Mantar. The formation for the rally was 2 kms long. After sending two letters to the Home Minister and consistently following up with his office for over a month for an appointment, NAD felt a strong need to have a rally and to not move until the Home Minister gives them the time.

After raising our demand repeatedly, NAD were given an appointment with Addl. P.S. to Home Minister at 5.30 p.m. Mr. Zorin Singha, President of NAD and Mr. A.S. Narayanan, Secretary of NAD went for the meeting along with the Sign Language interpreter. While they waited in the lobby, the Home Minister came to them and talked to them about their need. Mr. Narayanan explained the need for giving Indian Sign Language the official status. The development of the Deaf community is hinged on Sign Language because their life is entirely based on vision and common language, the culture is also based no visual expression and Sign Language. Home Minister assured them his support and directed his OSD to talk to them in detail. He also mentioned that Indian Sign language falls under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Minister will be directing Mrs. Rushima Goel, JSHR of Languages to look into their matter. NAD has written to her and they look forward to a positive response.

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Location: Jantar Mantar to India Gate, New Delhi    Projects: Awareness
Deaf Awareness March ‘Sign Bilingualism is a Human Right’

National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is truly a representative organisation of deaf people in India. This includes a strong 4,500 membership across the country. It was formed in December, 2005.

The deaf movement in India is currently in a very nascent state. NAD advocates for the rights of the deaf and liaises with the Government and policy makers.  We are currently hosting State Level Meetings across India to spread awareness among the deaf people on their rights and to also recruit more members.

On the occasion of 55th International Week of the Deaf, National Association of the Deaf organised a ‘Deaf Awareness March’ on ‘Sign Bilingualism is a Human Right’ on 27th September, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. from Jantar Mantar to India Gate through Tolstoy Marg and Kasturba Gandhi Marg. Over 650 deaf persons from Delhi and NCR participated in this march.

We celebrate International Week of the Deaf in the month of September every year through various events. The World Federation of the Deaf announced the International Week of the Deaf to be celebrated from 24 to 30 September 2012. Deaf Associations throughout the world organize events, marches, campaigns and meetings to highlight current topics that they wish to be addressed by local or national authorities. Their aim is to attract the attention of decision makers, general public, and media to the problems and concerns deaf persons face and make them understand that deaf people have human rights too! So the International Week of the Deaf is all about getting together, feeling united and powerful and showing that unity to the rest of the world. This week also increases solidarity among deaf people and their supporters and is used as a way to stimulate greater efforts to promote the rights of deaf people.

This march was covered by Hindustan Times, UNI, Indian Express and even some Mass Communications college students. The march came to a halt at India Gate where everyone gathered around and Mr. Zorin Singha, President of NAD, Mr. A.S. Narayanan, Secretary of NAD, Mr. Anuj Jain, Joint Secretary of NAD and Mr. Vishal Arora, Treasurer of NAD talked on the importance of International Day of the Deaf. Because we have an invisible disability, it becomes all the more reason as to why we need to create awareness and make ourselves visible in the eyes of the society. And, an important need to recognize sign language as an official language of India. Sign language is our mode of communication.

We have over 17 million deaf people in our country. The quality of education that is provided in deaf schools is poor because the society has a hard time understanding the culture and linguistic needs of the Deaf community. Our teachers need to be equipped and trained in Sign Language before teaching a class of deaf children. Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre should train the teachers in Sign Language and Deaf culture so that education can be imparted in the best way possible.

Sign bilingualism is based on the idea that, as deaf children can potentially easily acquire sign language and may have difficulty in accessing spoken language, they should be given the opportunity to develop sign language. This gives them a foundation of having a full command of one language. This foundation helps learn another language better. Within different educational settings the relative use of the two languages (sign and spoken/written language) may differ, but an essential feature is that the each language is recognized as distinct and used differently. While working towards the same goals as spoken language based approaches, sign bilingualism recognizes the need for a different classroom practice, using different means to achieve the same ends. It also recognizes the Deaf community, that group of Deaf people who see themselves as a linguistic and cultural minority group rather than a disabled group. A sign bilingual approach encourages the involvement of deaf as well as hearing people, and recognition of the culture of Deaf people (Gregory 1993 and 2005).

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Location: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi    Projects: Deaf Women
 Information of Protest Against Rape of Hearing Impairment Girl

Peace Protest on 6th March, 2011 at Delhi on the deaf girl raped by Govt. Doctor in Bankura Hospital, Kolkota, West Bengal:-

About 200 deaf women/girls with 50 deaf men from only NCR gathered at Jantar Mantar, Delhi on 6th March, 2012 for the Peace Protest on the deaf girl raped by Govt. Doctor in Bankura Hospital, Kolkota West Bengal.

The plan was path breaking in its approach to the problems and needs of disabled people and the resolution of these issues. The Plan for the first time contains a section dedicated to the disabled population of the country, numbering approximately 6-7 % of the total population. We represent the deaf community of India, which is reported to be anything from 15 million to 18 million strong. Yet we find ourselves without the most basic access; witness the lack of provision of the post of interpreter and in fact the non-existence of interpreters for the deaf. No access to Government Services, not even Police, Fire and Ambulance, Government Hospital and private hospital or an officer of law without interpreters we are disabled.

The latest outrage perpetrated on the deaf community is the shameless rape of a deaf minor girl in Kolkata by a hearing doctor and action is yet to be taken against him. We demand in the strongest terms that the culprit be brought to book and proceedings him as accused be taken up.

NAD demands an urgent call to Government agencies, for a meeting to create access to justice policy and send them to all Govt. States. Each High court should begin by creating a pool of interpreters who will be able to available to the police and the court as per requirement to support he access needs of the deaf. This should be done immediately.

Our community has long been oppressed without adequate communication access and this dismal state of basic human rights in our country in the 21st century is unconscionable.

Demand:-

  1. Create a post of interpreter for the deaf as per High court order No.W.P. (C) No. 6250 / 2010 date of decision 24th November, 2011 (see attached).
  2. Pool of interpreters for the deaf to be established in each district of India.

Imagine life as a deaf person in the country. You cannot go to school; you cannot watch TV and God forbid if you have to go to the police station or hospital for an emergency! Imagine going to catch a train and not being able to hear the announcement that your train has been delayed or postponed or the platform number where the train was supposed to have come has suddenly changed! There are no visual announcements for deaf people!

Imagine being in a building and not being able to hear the fire alarm ring!

There are no visual emergency alarms!

We have decided that we have carried a 'Solidarity March' on Tuesday, 6th March 2012 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi from 11.00 AM to 2:00 PM. It was a 'Silent March' to protest against the Government's silence on our concerns. It was peaceful and orderly.

The Police men led Mrs. Geeta Sharma (Woman Secretary of NAD), Mrs. Rajni Khandelwal (North India Deaf Woman Committee of NAD) & Ms. Nirupama Kaul (C0-Worker of NAD) to meet the Secretary of Health Minister, India. They explained to him about the rape and there is no interpreters in Hospital. They demanded him to provide the human deaf rights. He said He will do it. After their returning, they announced to deaf women that the Secretary, Health Minister accepted our demands.

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Location: India Gate, Delhi    Projects: Awareness
World Disability Day 2011

We, National Association of the Deaf (NAD) & National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) shared organizing the World Disability Day 2011 successfully, we had a large solidarity rally at the lawns of Boat Club next to Amar Jawan Jyoti, India Gate, Delhi on 3rdDecember, 2011.

Our demand this year was the need to RECOGNISE INDIAN SIGN LANGUAGE AS AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF INDIA. It was time to show our solidarity. It was time to show unity. It was time to ensure a right legacy. There were 10,000 deaf people from all over the country participating in the peaceful protest.

Mr. Zorin Singha President of NAD, Mr. A. S. Narayanan Secretary of NAD, Mr. Javed Abidi Director of NCPEDP, Mr. TKM Sandeep CEO of Deaf Enabled Foundation, Mr. Arun C. Rao Executive Director of The Deaf Way Foundation & Ruma Roka, General Secretary of Noida Deaf Society shared the showcases on the stage behind India Gate. They flagged off 500 balloons to the High Sky Up. Mr. Vishal Arora, Asst. Treasurer of NAD explained the deaf issues to the audience. The Deaf Members of Delhi Deaf Friendship Society & Deaf Students of Noida Deaf Society shared performing 5 different mimes.

On World Disability Day, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and National Association of the Deaf (NAD) have demanded official language status for sign language and training of people to become sign language interpreters at public places.

Addressing hearing impaired persons who carried out a silent march at India Gate here on Saturday to protest against the Union government's silence on their concerns, NAD President Zorin Singha, aided by an interpreter, said India was home to over 70 million people with disabilities.

“Of this, 18 million are people with hearing impairment. Unfortunately, the concerns of the deaf people in India have not been addressed even 64 years after Independence.”

Empathising with the problems faced by deaf persons on a daily basis, Mr. Singha said: “You cannot go to school or watch television. And God forbid if you have to go to the police station or hospital for an emergency. If you go to the railway station to catch a train and suddenly there is an announcement that your train has been postponed or the platform number has suddenly changed. But you cannot hear a word. It is a matter of concern that there are no visual announcements for hearing impaired people and no visual emergency alarms in case a fire breaks out in a building.”

Expressing concern over the movement of the hearing impaired being in a nascent state, Mr. Zorin said the NAD advocates for the rights of the hearing impaired and liaises with the government and policy makers.

“We are currently hosting State-level meetings across the country to spread awareness among hearing impaired people on their rights and to also recruit more members.”

Reminding that the High Court in a recent ruling had ordered that a survey must be undertaken in public buildings, hospitals, airports, railway stations that require sign language interpreters, NCPEDP Director Mr. Javed Abidi said: “In this country, we have 18 million hearing impaired people but only 250 certified interpreters by a conservative estimate. If we are having dearth of sign language interpreters, then how would we deploy them at public places?” By The Hindu.

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Location: India Gate, New Delhi    Projects: Awareness
WORLD DISABILITY DAY CELEBRATION, and National Association of The Deaf, Protest

Day celebrations on December 3. The event was organized by National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) in collaboration with National Association of Deaf (N.A.D.). This was the 13th ‘Walk to Freedom’ and this year’s theme was ‘Say No to Amendments. Say Yes to New Law’.

The three demands that the disability sector put forward were the need for a new Disability Act, in line with U.N. Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities; implementation of promises made to the disability sector under the XIth Five Year Plan; and easy and faster access to disability certificates.

There are according to varying estimates, between 20 - 25 million people who are deaf in India add to this the hard of hearing figure and you have a rather large total of 50 or more million people who are affected by hearing impairment.

A cultural programme was organised where disabled children from various organizations took part. An exhibition was also organized by National Trust on its ‘Badhte Kadam’ initiative which aimed at spreading awareness on disability issues. Posters, booklets, etc. were showcased in the exhibition.

Thousands of deaf protestors bring Planning Commission to a standstill

As the Government celebrated another cosmetic World Disability Day on December 3, around 2000 hearing impaired people from across the country under the banner of National Association of the Deaf (N.A.D.) stormed Yojana Bhawan in New Delhi, which houses the office of the Planning Commission, protesting against the non-implementation of the XIth Five Year Plan.

The protestors blocked the entry to the building and the road and refused to budge from there till their demands were heard. The XIth Five Year Plan has an entire chapter on disability with maximum benefits for the deaf community. The Plan mandates the setting up of a Sign language Research and Training Centre, a National Captioning Centre, at least one residential school up to class XII for hearing impaired students in every state and one degree college in every zone, among other things. But more than 2 years after the Plan came into force, implementation has been zero.

N.A.D. had been trying to meet with the Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia for close to 3 months without avail. Ironically, half an hour into the protest, Dr. Ahluwalia agreed to meet the leadership of N.A.D.

A.S. Narayanan, Secretary, N.A.D.; Zorin Singha, President, N.A.D.; along with Arun Rao of The Deafway Foundation and Javed Abidi, Convenor, Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) expressed their deep displeasure at the non-implementation of the promises made to the disability sector in general and the deaf community in particular, under the XIth Five Year Plan. Dr. Ahluwalia immediately offered to have a Committee constituted to review this issue as a part of the ongoing mid term appraisal of the Plan. But the delegation categorically refused this offer and said that mere assurances and reviews would no longer work. They needed a tangible time frame.

After much back and forth, Dr. Ahluwalia conceded to personally put in a word with the Prime Minister at a cabinet meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. that very day. He also agreed to talk to Mukul Wasnik, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, the nodal ministry for disability related issues.

Undeterred by the cold, the thousands of deaf protestors continued on with their ‘indefinite dharna’. As the word spread, a large number of media people started descending at Yojna Bhavan. With the clock ticking and virtually with every passing minute, the embarrassment only kept increasing for Government of India! The pressure was truly mounting.

Finally at around 8 p.m., Mukul Wasnik personally spoke to Abidi over the cellphone and invited the N.A.D. delegation for a meeting at his residence. Wasnik listened patiently to the demands. Shockingly, he was not even aware of the chapter on disability in the XIth Five Year Plan. Arun Rao told Wasnik that due to the lack of sign language training, education for hearing impaired children in the country is vastly neglected, as a result of which the level of their employment is pretty dismal. Rao informed the Minister that India only has 6 trained sign language interpreters! He firmly reiterated that only the setting up of Sign Language Institute will address these needs. Rao also lamented the absence of the post of sign language interpreter at public utility services like railway stations, airports, passport offices, etc.

Wasnik assured the delegation that he would look into all the mandates of the XIth Five Year Plan and will schedule another meeting soon. Finally, the protest was called off at about 10 p.m., nearly 8 hours after it all began. issues. Posters, booklets, etc. were showcased in the exhibition.

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Location: India Gate, New Delhi    Projects: Accessibility Awareness
World Disability Day, 2008

On Wednesday afternoon at 3pm we organized a massive rally of around 5000 disabled people. People from all over India got together at India Gate to demonstrate their strength and solidarity. The get together was a peaceful one and we also lit candles to mark our solidarity with the Mumbai attacks heroes and victims.

Apart from our host Mr. Zorin Singha (President, NAD), we had a wide array of speakers who had all gathered together for a common cause and that was the implementation of the 11th Five Year Plan where certain demands of ours were addressed unlike the other plans. Last year we thought was a momentous year as not only did our country ratify the UN Convention but also a distinct chapter was included in the 11th Five year plan on disability, but unfortunately no further action has been taken. All promises remain on paper only, its time we woke up the government to take some action, be it -

- Creating a separate Ministry for the disabled.
- 3% allocation of funds for disabled in every Ministry.
- To make Sign Language Indian as one of the official languages of our country
- To appoint interpreters in various ministries.
- Implementation of the UNCRPD, to name a few.

We had cultural programmes put up like songs, mime plays, dance etc. to entertain all the attendees. The talented Ms. Benzi sang beautifully two patriotic songs. We also had a troop who came all the way from Hyderabad to perform for us.

Our representatives comprising of Mr. Javed Abidi, Mr.Arun.C.Rao, Mr.Zorin Singha, had gone to visit the Hon'ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, to place our demands in front of him but were unable to do so as he was not in town. but that did not dampen our spirits, as this rally was a great success. It provided an opportunity for all to meet and interact with each other. They were able to share with each other their problems and experiences. Also Mr. Sanjay Mitra , Joint Secretary of disability in PMO promised us that he shall brief Hon'ble Prime Minister about our demands and that some action will be surely taken .We shall all pray that things fall in place this time.

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