Every person has the right to live in the community and participate fully and equally in community life. In the context of the right of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) to independent living, and the right to be included in the community, the UN Committee on PwDs stated:
“2. … All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights, and all life is of equal worth.
Though the right to live in the community forms part of the Indian Disability Act, the right is not recognized, respected and safeguarded in Indian communities. Most persons with disabilities in communities are unable to fully and equally participate in community life because of social, cultural and attitudinal barriers placed by community members. Knowingly or unknowingly, community members do not let PwDs live an Autonomous and independent life. They suppress their choice, voice and options, and try to impose their paternalistic and patronizing attitudes on them. They do not let persons with disabilities live the way they want.
Simple measures can change this. One step the Government can immediately take is: Issue guidelines/rules that require resident welfare associations to respect the voice, choice and rights of persons with disabilities. By doing so, the Government can enable and facilitate persons with disabilities live in communities with dignity, and participate fully and equally in community life.
Dr. Kalyan Kankanala, a person with blindness, has started a petition on change.org requesting Ministry of Social Justice, Government of India, to issue guidelines/rules that require resident welfare associations to recognize, respect and implement provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. “Most people do not understand the needs of persons with disabilities living in their community. Their disposition towards PwDs is normally patronizing and discriminative. Their biases are so deep rooted that they do not even realize that they are depriving rights, dignity and independence through their actions and omissions. The result is inequality, indignity and violation of rights of persons with disabilities. The objective of our petition is to change this, and take a step towards inclusive and respectful housing communities in India,” says Dr. Kankanala.
Dr. Kankanala started this petition following instances of discrimination in the apartment complex he was living. Through this petition, he is advocating for specific rules that will enable persons with disabilities live independently, participate in community life, access community facilities and information, and get reasonable accommodations. One may join the cause by signing the petition at: https://www.change.org/right-of-persons-with-disabilities