It is an undeniable fact that people with disabilities and older persons were the most impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic, the subsequent lockdown and the new normal as is emerging – with loss of livelihood, social distancing and partial curfews, with the economy limping back to recovery. It is only justified that the United Nations declared the theme for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020 as: “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 World!
This year’s UN theme Building Back Better emphasizes the importance of strengthening our collective efforts for universal access to essential services, including immediate health and social protection, education, digital infrastructure, accessible information, employment and other socio-cultural opportunities in order to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in times of crisis and beyond.
The Build Back Better call was amplified exponentially by the support lent to it by several celebrities from the film industry. Rana Daggubati, the Bahubali star, tweeted “There are almost a 100 million persons with disabilities in India alone- comprising the world’s largest minority. Post-COVID, lets #BuildBackBetter, create a more accessible world.
”Actor of the moment Pankaj Tripathi also came out in support of persons with disabilities saying “With age, all of us will have some kind of disability. We will be able to see lesser, hear lesser. Then why are we ignoring the problems faced by persons with disabilities? We have to change this.”
Harshad Mehta star Pratik Gandhi also shared his support.“For decades, the disability sector has been demanding that they be allowed to work from home. Coronavirus has made everyone work from home- I wonder why this wasn’t possible before? To my mind, the rights of persons with disabilities are just human rights- access, education, health and livelihood. Let’s work towards making this possible,” he shared via a video.
Arman Ali, Executive Director, NCPEDP said that the pandemic offered an opportunity to rebuild better. However, it was important for people from all sectors to come together and work collaboratively if we want to see a better, inclusive and accessible tomorrow.
To mark the celebrations, NCPEDP also organized a Webinar to discuss various facets of a resilient and sustainable recovery in the new normal. The discussions saw the presence of distinguished speakers Mr Chapal Khasnabis, Head (a.i), Access to Assistive Technology and Medical Devices Unit, World Health Organization, Geneva; Mr Ravindra Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Skill Council for Person with Disability; Mr Mathew Joseph, Country Director, American India Foundation (AIF); Ms Radhika Alkazi, Founder & Managing Trustee, ASTHA; and Mr Arman Ali, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP).
Registered in 1996, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) is the country’s premier cross-disability, not-for-profit organisation working as an interface between Government, Industry, International Agencies and the Voluntary Sector towards empowerment of persons with disabilities. Its mandate is simple – to encourage the employment of people with disabilities, increase public awareness on the issue of disability, empower people with disabilities with knowledge, information and opportunities and ensure easy and convenient access to all public places. NCPEDP works on six core principles, also called the six pillars of the organization, namely: 1) Education; 2) Employment; 3) Accessibility; 4) Legislation/Policy; 5) Awareness/Communication, and 6) Youth.