Centre may declare 'dwarfism' a disability, open to quota

Centre may declare 'dwarfism' a disability, open to quota

NEW DELHI: The Centre may identify "dwarfism" as a form of disability, joining the list of conditions that entitle an individual to affirmative action - government help and grievance redressal for the "differently-abled".

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"Dwarfism" - indicating persons with unusually low stature - is likely to figure among the 19 disabilities to be listed in the Persons with Disabilities Bill which would lay down stringent guidelines to ensure a non-discriminatory, equitable system for the disabled persons.

While the country enacted the PWD law in 1995, the Centre has now planned amendments to bring its provisions in tune with the times with higher levels of sensitization about the disabled.

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The changes proposed by the social justice ministry under Thaawar Chand Gehlot seek to expand the existing list of disabilities from seven to 19 which would include autism, thalassemia, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell disease.

According to experts, it would buffer the "dwarfs" from the usual discrimination they face. While the short-statured persons are capable of every activity, they do suffer prejudice because of their appearance and are generally shunned.

The objective behind mentioning "dwarfism" separately in the PWD Act is to send out an unambiguous message that they are treated fairly. Till now, the government had maintained that "dwarfism" was assumed under the "locomotor disability".

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The move would help the "dwarfs" in availing job reservation - 1% out of 5% prescribed for the disabled by the government -- and they would also be able to seek grievance redressal under the PWD Act.

Importantly, private buildings too would be bound by the PWD law to provide easy access to the disabled.

It is being done by expanding the definition of the term "establishment" in the Act. While till now it referred to buildings belonging to governments or their bodies, the social justice ministry has proposed that "establishment" include any private company, cooperative or contractor who has secured public tenders for service.

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The move is significant as the PWD Act prescribes that "no establishment shall be granted permission to build any structure if the building plan does not adhere to the regulation" to be disabled-friendly as laid down by the National Commission.

Also, the proposed bill bars "establishments" from discrimination against the disabled and directs them to give 5% job quota to the disabled.

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