With 2021 coming to a close, the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has shared its list of accomplishments of the year. In January 2021, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) notified the list of posts suitable for persons with benchmark disabilities (disability of 40% and above) under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The DEPwD notified posts included 1,046 in Group A, 515 in Group B, 1,724 in Group C and 281 in Group D posts. The posts were also identified suitable for new categories of persons with disabilities (PwDs) such as dwarfism, acid attack victims, muscular dystrophy, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, specific learning disability, mental illness and multiple disabilities.
On 17 February 2021, the ministry virtually released the third edition of the Indian Sign Language (ISL) dictionary with 10,000 terms (including 6,000 earlier terms). The dictionary brought out by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), a national institute of DEPwD, has terms of everyday use and academic, legal, administrative, medical, technical and agricultural terms. The videos contain the sign, the English term for the sign and pictures where relevant. The dictionary also contains regional signs used in different parts of the country.
On 2 March 2021, the Sugamya Bharat App and a handbook, Access – The Photo Digest were virtually launched through a video conference in New Delhi. DEPwD has developed the app and the handbook. The mobile app can be downloaded from Play Store by Android users.
On 19 May 2021, the union ministry launched a six-month-long Community-Based Inclusive Development programme, jointly developed by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) and the University of Melbourne. The objective of the programme is to develop a pull of grassroot-level workers, who can work alongside ASHA and Aangadwadi workers for rehabilitation and inclusion of PwDs. The first batch of the programme began from September 2021 in 16 organisations selected by the RCI, with 527 students, including 38 students with disabilities, enrolling for the programme.
The former Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot virtually inaugurated 14 Cross-Disability Early Intervention Centres located at seven National Institutes and seven Composite Regional Centres under the DEPwD in New Delhi on 14 June 2021. The centres provide screening and identification, rehabilitation, counselling, therapeutic services, among others, for different disabilities under one roof. Facilities for screening of children to identify risk cases and refer them for apt rehabilitative care, therapeutic services (like speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy), parental counselling and training and school readiness facility are a few such services.
On Sign Language Day (23 September), the ISLRTC launched the Indian Sign Language (ISL) e-content of NCERT textbooks of classes 1-5 in sign language. In this project, 310 chapters of 20 textbooks of the primary classes were converted into 490 ISL videos with audio, pictures and captions, in collaboration with CIET, NCERT. The ISL e-content of classes 1-5 for all subjects is freely available on the DIKSHA portal. The ISLRTC also celebrated International Week of the Deaf from 27 September to 1 October 2021 by conducting online awareness sessions on ISL at nine different venues across the country. The DEPwD’s tableau for the Republic Day Parade, 26 January 2021, was also themed on Indian Sign Language.
On 10 September 2021, the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr Virendra Kumar and Union Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Ramdas Athawale felicitated Tokyo 2020 Paralympic medal winners and members of the Indian contingent and their coaches in New Delhi. For the first time, cash awards (paid directly into the bank accounts of the players) were given to winners. Cash awards of Rs.10 lakh, Rs.8 lakh and Rs.5 lakh were given to gold, silver and bronze medal winners, respectively.
On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), President Ram Nath Kovind conferred National Awards for Outstanding Work Done Towards Empowerment of Divyangjan on individuals, institutions, organisations and state/district, etc. for their outstanding achievements and work done towards empowerment of PwDs.