There is dearth of trained professionals in the disability sector in Assam.
This was stated by Arman Ali, the Executive Director of Shishu Sarothi.
“There is lack of teachers, early interventionists and community-based workers, who understand disability,” Arman Ali told Northeast Now.
NGO Shishu Sarothi serves as a resource centre and works across a number of thematic areas like education, healthcare, early intervention and rehabilitation, livelihoods advocacy and awareness as well as protection of rights of people with disabilities in the Northeast region.
The organisation also provides Diploma in Special Education – Cerebral Palsy to develop human resources.
“For our training programme, we get about 10 to 12 students per year which is a really small number,” Ali said.
Speaking on the stigma around disability, Ali said, “There is lack of awareness among people regarding people with disabilities and the stigma attached to it has not changed. Disability gets mention nowadays but it is yet to find its place. People still consider it as part of charity and not as development.”
Shishu Sarothi has been working for children with autism and developmental disabilities through their early intervention programme.
“We have recently given a proposal to the Assam government to set up a centre for people with developmental disability,” Ali added.
The Supreme Court of India in December 2017 gave stipulated time periods to make public places accessible for people with disability.
“Public places are not disabled-friendly. These places are not designed or built keeping in mind the needs of people with disability. But unfortunately, people are not sensitive about it. So, the government has to really put its foot down,” Ali said.
Ali further added, “The State has to take onus of disability. NGOs alone cannot solve the problem.”
In the light of the latest Rights of People with Disabilities Act, 2016, Ali said, “When the numbers increase, the government will have to take notice.”
The 2016 Act encompasses the number of disabilities from earlier 7 to 21.
Moreover, rather than a social welfare issue, the new Act has adopted a right-based approach. But Assam is yet to implement the Rights of People with Disability Act, 2016.