India is driving towards inclusion… STOP discrimination

On public mailing lists and social media, I have recently came across a few incidents of discrimination of people with disabilities that prompted me to write this post.

First one is about Punjab National Bank, who is troubling a potential customer who happens to be blind to open a Bank account. In spite showing Circular issued by The Reserve Bank of India [PDF], bank has declined to open an account and provide facilities like Cheque Book, debit card etc., Bank says that they would require customer to sign on a declaration stating something only customer is responsible for safety of the account. Why? does the Punjab National Bank asks every customer to sign such a declaration? If so, there is no problem. But insisting a customer with blindness only to sign such declaration is rather awful and violation of RBI guidelines. In a conversation with a good friend, Prashant Varma, who happens to be an advocate and a man who brings in innovative assistive solutions to visually impaired community, I figured out that while some banks are cooperative enough and adhering to RBI guidance, most banks are creating internal circulars that are discriminating and causes inconvenience to customers with disabilities.

Secondly an incident at Delhi University; where a student who wishes to take up examinations using computer was asked to show if there were anyone who took the exam before using computer. Again, why do they need some precedent to consider a reasonable accommodation? Even if they need, it’s responsibility of University to investigate the same. Or consider the case as first instance. I think user of computers makes life easy for both candidate and those who evaluates. It does not incur any cost too as one can use an open screen reader NVDA and sure there would be computers in the university. In fact, instead asking student about precedent etc., it would be cool for universities to come up easy method to conduct examinations in consultation with experts in disability sector and adopt the same.

Let’s understand that India has signed and ratified United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and currently promoting Accessible India Campaign in a big scale. Let’s consider including all stakeholders in the mainstream and it’s time for us bid farewell to discrimination.

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