The National Workshop on Draft Rules of Rights of Persons with Disabilities was held on 2nd April 2017 at Indian Social Institute, 10 Institutional Area, Lodi Raod, New Delhi organised by National Association of the Deaf (NAD), All India Federation of the Deaf (AIFD) and All India Foundation of Deaf Women (AIFDW). It was a one day long workshop on Draft Rules of RPWD from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There were about 91 deaf leaders from all over India including Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal and etc.
The workshop started with the welcome note by Mr. Anuj Jain, Executive Director of NAD. He said that the RPWD Act received the assent of the President on 26th December 2016. Currently 2 people from the deaf sector are part of the planning committee for the draft rules, they are Shri A.S. Narayanan, President of National Association of the Deaf, Smt. Uma Tuli, Founder Secretary of Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust and Shri S K Rungta, General Secretary of National Federation of the Blind.
Mr. Anuj Jain Introduced all the participants in the workshop.
Mr. A S Narayanan, President of NAD the participants of the workshop that the top most priority for the deaf sector is Employment and then Education. He then shared his experience about the RPWD Bill. When an act gets asent from the president all the chapters in the act are then changed to rules. These rules may vary from the actual chapters and sections mentioned in the Act.
The government initially wanted to stick with the PWD act and asked the disability group to add on any changes to the act. After heavy discussions amongst the group it was decided that a new Act is what we need.
For the first time a deaf person was included in the working group of the Act. Narayanan was not familiar with the process of the act or anything of this sort and in these meetings he realised that his voice was not being heard. After a few meetings he learned to be strong and encouraged his interpreters to make sure his voice was heard by the other members every time.
In 2013, the RPWD Act could have been passed but the Lok Pal Bill became the major focus and was given the priority. NAD gathered 3000 people from all over India at India gate to get the Bill passed in the parliament. We were successful in getting the attention of the media and the government but still there was no progress. In 2015, with the new government the RPWD bill was moved to the parliament and it was agreed that the term Hearing Impaired should not be solely used but the term Deaf and Hearing Impaired should be used.
Mr. T K M Sandeep, Vice President of NAD and CEO of Deaf Enabled Foundation said that the purpose for us to know all the chapters and sections in the Act meant for the deaf in the Bill is to ensure that all these provisions are carried forward in the Draft Rules of the RPWD bill too.
Mr. Sibaji Panda said other disability groups have come a long way fighting for their rightful needs. We have just started. Narayanan has been to a few meetings and has found it difficult to understand all the things because the terminology is different. Linking our needs to the services provided by the government is essential. Identification of such needs is then significant.
All of us are aware of the situation in public transport. The bus conductor shouts out the different drop off points and we the deaf are left unaware. We need to keep asking the fellow passengers when our stop will come. How long will we do this? We need to find a way to make our lives easier.
We are open to suggestions from all of you. So, now all the participants will be divided in groups.
Mr. A S Narayanan, President of NAD, Mr. Zorin Singha, Secretary of NAD, Mr. Onkar Sharma, General Secretary of All India Federation of the Deaf and Mrs. Uma Kapoor, General Secretary of All India Foundation of Deaf Women thanked everyone for coming and participating in the workshop.