GUWAHATI, Sept 23 - A media interaction programme was organised today at a city hotel to announce an initiative for awareness creation on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Dubbed as a first-of-its-kind initiative by a state government in the country on such a large scale, the Programme for Awareness Generation on Disability and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, taken up by the Assam Social Welfare Department in collaboration with Shishu Sarothi, it involves promotion of awareness and sensitisation programmes to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities provided under the Act are protected.
To mark the occasion, Ketaki Bardalai, executive director, Shishu Sarothi, concluded her introductory address by releasing a ‘Handbook on Media and Disability Inclusion’ along with the other speakers, Arman Ali, executive director, NCPEDP, Kausar J Hilaly, Assam State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, and journalists Samudra Gupta Kashyap and Karma Paljor.
Around 50 people including representatives from the print, electronic and digital media and students of Mass Communication from Cotton University and Assam School of Journalism participated in the programme.
Karma, Director, ATVI Infotainment, pointed out that India has the largest population of people with disability in the world but often, media covers issues of people with disability from the charity and pity mindset. He said that not even one per cent of print news goes on to focus on those issues. Saying that covering sensational news around people with disability is alright, he put the emphasis on taking up one issue at a time and generating public awareness and consciousness around disability as a whole.
Kashyap gave a succinct depiction of how media can take up “stories” around the different provisions of the RPWD Act, 2016. He appealed to the members present to highlight instances of rights violation and/or denial against the various rights and not only cover news about programmes and events taking place in the disability sector.
Hilaly, in his address, said that he, as the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, was as much a watchdog for implementation of the RPWD Act, as the media was in creating awareness and public consciousness around disability issues and challenges. He said that providing accessible services was not a question of having demands and ensuring supply. Rather, it is a question of having systems and services in place which are accessible, he added.
Arman Ali spoke about negative terminologies which continue to stereotype people with disabilities and said that perceptions around disability have to change. He asked the media to take up real-life issues of people with disabilities. He said that disability was a state subject and that it was not welfare but a human rights issue.