By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 30 Aug: The L atika Roy Foundation, a local non-profit that works on disability issues, organised a two-day disability certification camp on its premises in Vasant Vihar, with a panel from Doon Hospital. The camp specifically assisted families with children with intellectual impairments, including autism, for whom the certification process can be even more challenging than for those with physical disabilities. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Rules, 1996, provide broad guidelines for issue of disability certificates. The Rules lay down that a medical board constituted by the central and state governments will issue Disability Certificates that entitle individuals with the prescribed disabilities to a range of facilities, concessions and benefits of the government and NGOs. The certificate, while valid throughout India, entitles the holder to benefits only in the state that issues the certificate. The process of acquiring this essential certificate, however, is long and tedious for families. With the paperwork taking place at multiple healthcare settings, it can take months for a person to acquire a certificate. The disability certificate camp formed part of the Foundation’s landmark efforts to ease official processes for disabled children and their families. This camp enabled 67 more families to procure certificates for their children. Dr Shubha Nagesh, Director, Research and Follow-up Programmes at the Foundation said, “It is easier to get a passport in India than a disability certificate! In addition to facilitating access to disability concessions, the camp also enabled the children to be counted as part of the disabled population for whom the government must take concerted action to include in every aspect of life.” A key stumbling block for action on inclusion of disabled individuals has been the lack of reliable data on the ground. Census figures are wildly off the mark by global standards, thereby hindering effective planning, budgeting and implementation of measures for inclusion. Such efforts facilitate disabled children’s access to entitlements as well as assist in collecting accurate statistics about this marginalised, often invisible population.