Amba Salelkar, a former criminal lawyer, who now represents the Chennai-based Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy, one of the organisations that submitted suggestions, welcomes this change in the law. “For many hearing, speech or visually impaired people, there was no effective mechanism in place to communicate with the police. Now the police has to evolve alternative methods of identification,” she says, adding that Inclusive Planet had also recommended that the entire process of identification be videographed to avoid any ambiguities in court later.
Amba Salelkar of Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy highlighted the need for staff sensitization. "The physical equipment is one aspect that the ministry is addressing. But there is a lot of abuse that disabled persons face while travelling. Official sensitization should also be looked into," said Salelkar.
'The Justice Verma committee has impressed a nation full of beleaguered voices on the lack of political will and initiative, with its 657-page report, barely 20 days after they closed public comment on improvements to the law and procedure regarding sexual assault.
In addition, there has been proposed a one-stop ‘Emergency Response System,’ which is sought to be run by a civil contract agency which does not report to the police but to the civil administration of the city, and will be equipped to identify wireless telephone devices by GPS co-ordinates.
Organizations like the Indian Right to Read Alliance which has been pushing for the treaty welcomed the June deadline. "This is an incredible development, and after a four year struggle we are looking forward to the treaty being concluded next year.
“In many countries, the copyright laws prevent making accessible copies of the books, or importing them from nations where it is available,” said Rahul Cherian Jacob, who heads the Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy. He helped in drafting the Treaty and is the legal adviser to the World Blind Union on the Treaty.
But the disability rights lobby is not keeping quiet about this any longer. On Disability Day, earlier last week, solidarity booths were set up in a couple of branches in the State Bank of India in Chennai.
Further, the team is in the process studying existing regulations of the RBI, comparing them to international standards and examining what can be done to get reforms in, says Rahul Jacob Cherian of Inclusive Planet.
Activists are now pushing the threshold. Since 2009 India has been at the forefront of developing countries at the World Intellectual Property Organization that are proposing an international treaty to allow free sharing across borders of work suitable to the print impaired. Rahul Cherian of Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability and Policy, Chennai, explains that this would also facilitate the import of books. "It is estimated, for example, that libraries in the US have more than 10 million books in accessible formats which we can import."
A comprehensive disabled — friendly airport design has also been drawn up, according to committee member Rahul Cherian Jacob of the Inclusive Planet, Centre for Disability, Law and Policy.
Rahul Cherian Jacob of Inclusive Planet, Centre for Disability, Law and Policy, who was also on the committee says, “The Ministry realised that there are issues with existing regulations and that we had to make changes.” The agenda was simple: study the drawbacks and suggest solutions.