Safeguard the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to live in the Community

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It is difficult for persons with disabilities to lead an independent life in the community, and to fully/equally participate  in community activities if  members of the community do not respect their choice and rights. I live in a large apartment complex in J.P. Nagar, Bangalore, which has more than 1500 apartments. As I am a person with blindness, I  rely extensively on touch to carry out my day to day activities. WHO and Indian Government have recognized that persons with blindness  are at higher risk to COVID-19, and  life became relatively difficult after lock down.

Instead of  providing facilities to enable me to    live in the community fully/equally with others, my apartment association and community members  denied my right to participate in community life  by denying many of my requests for accommodations. They went to the extent of stating that my life in the community is at their generosity and leniency, and even started a smear campaign because I asked for my rights. I filed a case before SCPD, Karnataka, which is now pending.

One needs to just look around to note that persons with disabilities are not appropriately respected in communities though they have the right to live in the community. Their rights are not safeguarded and implemented because of attitudes of community members, who treat them as inferiors. If the Central Government and State Governments can issue guidelines, they will go a long way in helping PwDs live in communities as equals. They can rely on these guidelines/rules and ask associations to provide them some basic facilities and accommodations to live  independently and be included in community life. The RPwD Act, 2016, provides  appropriate basis for these rules/guidelines.

Recommendation: I request the  GOI and State Governments to:

Issue rules/guidelines to resident welfare associations and apartment owners associations   making it mandatory to recognize, respect and safeguard rights of persons with disabilities by providing facilities and accommodations to live independently; and

Issue appropriate guidelines/rules that require associations to make the environment access friendly, and to include needs of persons with disabilities in social, cultural, political and other community activities.