New Delhi: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is working on making the Aarogya Setu App accessible to persons with disabilities (PwDs), a top official from Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment aware of the development said in an ASSOCHAM webinar today.
“This is in fact domain of MeitY, we have already written twice to the MeitY requesting them to make the Aarogya Setu App accessible, they are working on it and we are hopeful that soon this app will become accessible, we are making our efforts, ultimately it has to be done by MeitY,” said Dr Prabodh Seth, joint secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DePwD) in a webinar on – ‘Best Practices on Diversity and Inclusion during Covid-19,’ hosted by ASSOCHAM.
During his address Dr Seth also informed about the accessibility of quarantine centres which has been mentioned in the comprehensive disability inclusive guidelines circulated to all states.
“While accessibility is very important but given the number of Covid-19 quarantine centres is increasing by geometric proportions, may be it will take some time before all these quarantine centres become accessible,” he said.
He added, “But it is a priority of the department, we have put this in our disability inclusive guidelines and while circulating these guidelines to all the states we have also emphasised on making the entire physical environment accessible for PwDs.”
Sharing his views on the employability for PwDs post Covid-19, Dr Seth said, “We have schemes for wage employment both in government as well as private sectors and also for providing avenues for self-employment. I think corporate sector should now come forward and take advantage of a very important scheme i.e. incentivising private employers by reimbursing ESI and EPF contribution.”
He further said, “I think the private sector should come forward and employ them, as regards self-employment, we have 270 empanelled training partners, we have asked our PSU – National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) to provide loans at concessional rates of interest and also to have more skills in trades developed for PwDs with particular emphasis on their employability so that PwDs not only get vocational training but once they complete it, chances of their getting absorbed somewhere or going in for some sort of vocation are very high.”
Talking about the response of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities to Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Seth said that in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the department in the last week of March i.e. during the nationwide lockdown issued comprehensive guidelines and other instructions to concerned state government officials as it is a state subject and state governments have to play a very important role in implementation of these guidelines to ensure that PwDs do not face any discrimination and additional hardships during the pandemic.
“The department came up with comprehensive disability inclusive guidelines on 26 March and those guidelines were disseminated across all states along with a letter from secretary, DePwD to chief secretaries of all states about making the environment accessible to PwDs, making information related to Covid-19 pandemic accessible to PwDs, providing essentials including food and medicines to PwDs and also allowing caregivers to go and serve the PwDs during Covid pandemic and sensitising all the people working with PwDs about the RPWD Act, giving priority in treatment to PwDs and exempting persons with visual disabilities from attending offices because they carry higher risk of catching infections,” he said adding that the mechanism for implementation of these comprehensive guidelines was also given.