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Thumbs up for Braille press, not much else

Thumbs up for Braille press, not much else

There is some excitement in the disability sector post the Union Budget, but there is also some disappointment.

The move to establish 15 new Braille presses, modernize the 10 existing ones, and print currency notes with Braille-like signs have been welcomed by activists.

“At present, there is a huge shortage of textbooks for the visually impaired as the presses are not able to meet the demand. With the new presses, many more visually-impaired children will have access to education,” said Alagu Muthu, past president, National Association of the Blind.

Accessible currency too is a move in the right direction, said, activists.

“Even though most visually-impaired people determine the value of a note by its size, currency with Braille signs will be more helpful,” said S. Namburajan, State secretary, TN Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers.

The supply of contemporary assistive devices too would be very helpful, especially if they include communicative devices, said Smitha Sadasivan of Disability Rights Alliance.

“We hope the scheme takes into account all disabilities and includes alternative and augmentative communicative devices as well, as this would help people who have difficulty in talking,” she said.

The establishment of a National Institute of Universal Design and a center for sports, too, have been appreciated.

However, activists are unhappy over what they believe the Budget has missed out. Employment for the disabled has not been looked into, they point out, nor have additional resources been allocated for the health and education of people with disabilities and there is still no transparency in the data of physical and financial performance.

Vilasini Diwakar of Madras Dyslexic Association said the new teacher training program could include the methodology to teach children with dyslexia.

The setting up of a National Institute for Mental Health Rehabilitation, while a progressive move, does not translate into a robust response to address the concerns of thousands of persons with mental illness, living in poverty, with no access to care, said Vandana Gopikumar, co-founder of Banyan, an NGO.

“A substantive move would have included an integrative approach across all budget items with a focus on the multi-dimensional needs of persons with mental illness, including mental hospital reforms, and concrete measures to address homelessness and long-term needs,” she said.

Source: The Hindu

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