The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which came into force as India's response to its signing of UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, was a pivotal development in India's pursuit of disability rights. With this the country pledged to uplift disability from Charity- based mode on to Rights-based mode.

This very comprehensive and progressive legislation, expanded to encompass conditions like Hemophilia, Thalassemia, and Sickle Cell Disease, among a few more to take the disability list from 7 in the earlier Act to 21 in the present Act. What is significant is this Act promotes accessibility and inclusivity, opening doors to equal opportunity policy for individuals with disabilities.

wheelchairs, basketball, sports

In Goa, the State Disability Commissioner's office plays a crucial role in ensuring the act's effective implementation. They serve as a vital link between the State government, its various Departments and agencies and the individuals with disabilities and the broader community, providing guidance and support to those navigating the system.

This Act breaks down barriers, not only in employment but in all aspects of life, emphasizing the removal of physical, virtual as well as social hindrances. It encourages employers to create inclusive workplaces, championing diversity and reasonable accommodations.

As the Act provides for a well-laid down structure of District Level Committees and a State Advisory Board to guide and advise the State machinery in implementing agenda and programme of inclusion, accessibility, justice and empowerment, it often provides checks and balances in the system. The individuals and non governmental organisations working in the disability sector also play a crucial role in implementing and at times overseeing implementation of works by the various govt agencies.

In conclusion, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, is a beacon of hope for the disability sector, promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities. The Disability Commissioner's office in Goa is instrumental in helping individuals with disabilities realize their rights and access the resources for their development. By fostering awareness and implementing the Act, we can collectively advance inclusion and equal opportunities for persons with disabilities for their eventual empowerment.

The disability sector is by its very nature is such that there is no place for any complacency as the situation here demands that the more you work, the more you realise that much more remains to be done to uplift the persons with disability and make them self-reliant to live their life with dignity and respect on par with others.

Prakash Waman Kamat Member Goa State Advisory Board on Disability. Senior Journalist and Advocacy Ambassador Hemophilia Society Pana Chapter

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