Disability rights groups say ‘disability studies university’ will promote exclusion

Different disability rights groups including National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People and National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled have sought withdrawal of a government proposal to set up a university for disability studies and rehabilitation sciences, saying it will take them backwards by promoting exclusion and segregation instead of inclusion.

The organisations have written a letter to Shakuntala D Gamlin, secretary of Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, opposing the move.

“At the outset, we would like to highlight that while the proposed University is one of its kind, it takes the disability sector backwards by promoting exclusion/ segregation rather than inclusion,” reads the letter.

Disability rights groups said the proposed project of university goes against the progressive nature of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016 as also the concept of inclusion advocated by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

According to a PTI report, in December 2020, the union government had proposed to set up a “first of its kind” university covering the entire gamut of disability studies and rehabilitation sciences in an accessible environment.

“The focus needs to be laid on increasing the number of trained human resources by offering courses which are in line with that of NIMHANS/IISC/IITs including doctoral degrees,” letter said.

“We are also not in agreement with the proposal for running the university in a ‘self-sustaining’ model. To conclude, we would request to kindly withdraw the said Draft Bill,” it concluded.