NEW DELHI: With many persons with disabilities dependent on care givers for their daily needs and this support staff finding is difficult to reach them due to the lock down, the Centre’s Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has written to all states and union territories to ensure access to essential support services like caregiver support, supplies and medical aid at their doorstep. It is sought that caregivers should be allowed to reach persons with disabilities by exempting them from restrictions during lock down or providing passes in a simplified manner on priority.
The guidelines recommends that states set-up 24×7 helplines for persons with disabilities. As of now caregivers for disabled do not come under the essential services category and hence over two days of lock down instances of persons with disabilities facing difficulties have emerged.
The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilties of the ministry of social justice and empowerment on Thursday came out with detailed guidelines asking states to make the state commissioner for disabilities the nodal officer to resolve disability specific issues during the crisis period. The letter along with the guidelines has been sent to the union ministries of home affairs and health for further action.
“The state disabilities commissioners will coordinate with state disaster management authority, health, Police and other line departments as well as district collectors. A nodal officer at the district level should have a list of PwDs in the district and monitor their requirements periodically,” the guidelines state.
In her letter to chief secretaries, DEPwD, secretary Shakuntala D Gamlin states that while there is no denying the fact that social distancing norms are followed during this period, at the same time it is the responsibility of the government to take measures to ensure that the persons with disabilities have access to essential support services.
The “disability inclusive guidelines”, for protection and safety of persons with disabilities from COVID19, lay emphasis on the fact that all persons responsible for handling emergency response services should be trained on the rights of persons with disabilities, and on risks associated with additional problems for persons having specific impairments. The guidelines also lay down the protocol that during quarantine, essential support services, personal assistance, and physical and communication accessibility should be ensured like blind persons, persons with intellectual/ mental disability (psycho-social) are dependent on care giver support. Similarly persons with disabilities may seek assistance for rectification of fault in their wheelchair and other devices that they use for assistance. It is sought that all video-graphic awareness material related to COVID 19 must be with sub-titles and sign language interpretation for persons with hearing impairment and through accessible web sites.
The guidelines also assert that the RWAs should be sensitized about the need of persons with disabilities so as to allow entry of maid, caregiver and other support providers to their residence after following due sanitizing procedure.
The DEPwD guidelines also lay down that sign language interpreters who work in emergency and health settings should be given the same health and safety protection as other health care workers dealing with COVID19. It is also sought that relevant information on support to persons with disabilities should be a part of all awareness campaigns related to the COVID 1