For the first time, the telecast of this year’s Republic Day proceedings may also include simultaneous sign language interpretation.
The issue was brought up after Minister for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari assured a delegation of the Disabled Rights Group (DRG) of his support on the issue. The move came after personal intervention by Sonia Gandhi, Congress president, who had been apprised of the situation by DRG members on Thursday.
Sonia Gandhi had also assured the delegation that the Congress would support and prioritise the enactment of the Disability Rights Bill in the next Parliament session.
“The Minister (for Information and Broadcasting) was very positive and has given his assurance on the issue of sign language interpretation of the telecast on Doordarshan,” DRG convener Javed Abidi said.
He said while the Ministry was planning to have sign language interpretation only on DD News, activists were demanding that the interpretation be made available on DD National as well.
Representatives of organisations for the hearing impaired said more than 18 million people would benefit from sign language interpretation.
“Although several countries have closed captioning of television programmes and sign language interpretation of all important broadcasts such as statements by heads of state, parliamentarians, important announcements and others, India still has to take it up,” A S Narayanan, secretary of National Association of the Deaf (NAD), said.
“India has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and as such is obligated to make all information accessible to everyone, irrespective of disability. To keep millions of viewers bereft of this is blatant discrimination,” Abidi said.
The delegation which called upon Tewari included Javed Abidi (DRG convener), Neelam Jolly (VISHWAS), Zorin Singha and A S Narayanan (National Association of the Deaf). Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, were also present at the meeting.