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Govt proposes to set up University of Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences

The proposed university will have eight departments viz. disability studies; rehabilitation sciences; audiology and speech language pathology; special education; psychology; nursing; orthotics and prosthetics and assistive technology; and inclusive and universal design.

The government has proposed to set up a “first of its kind” university covering the entire gamut of disability studies and rehabilitation sciences in an accessible environment.

In a public notice issued on December 24, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has invited comments from stakeholders on a draft bill to set up the university.

In this regard, the DEPwD said, a draft bill namely the University of Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences Bill, 2021 for establishing the proposed university has been prepared.

The DEPwD said it intends to set up a University of Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences, Kamrup district, Assam through a separate act of Parliament.

“The proposed university, the first of its kind, will be a unique multidisciplinary academic institution conducting research, programmes and courses from bachelor’s level onwards to cater to various disciplines covering the entire gamut of disability studies and rehabilitation sciences in an accessible environment,” the DEPwD said.

The proposed university will have eight departments viz. disability studies; rehabilitation sciences; audiology and speech language pathology; special education; psychology; nursing; orthotics and prosthetics and assistive technology; and inclusive and universal design.

“The proposed university’s programmes will adopt a credit and grading system. The proposed university will offer affiliation to other institutions in disabilities and rehabilitation sciences in the country,” it said.

The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities hereby invites comments from the public on the draft University of Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences Bill, 2021 by January 3, 2021.

Prominent disabled rights body National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled, however, called it another “ill-conceived idea”, which denied adequate time or space for stakeholders to respond.

“In this case, a mere nine days have been given to elicit a response to a 131-page document,” NPRD said in a statement.

“All the more unacceptable is the fact that this university would be ‘self-sustaining’, in tune with the thrust of the New Education Policy 2020. With finances being generated from tuition fees, affiliation fees etc. students from the marginalised sections will stand deprived,” it said.

“Rather than wasting huge amounts of money on self-sustaining segregated centres of learning, it would do auger well if the government adheres to the guiding principles of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of equality and non-discrimination and adopts and promotes an inclusive, multidisciplinary approach,” the NPRD said.

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