The Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Virendra Kumar on Friday wrote to all central ministries and departments to include a sign language interpreter in all the press briefings as well as media interactions.
A letter by the Secretary of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) Anjali Bhawra stated that this (sign language interpreter) needs to be followed by all ministries soon.
“The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 mandates the appropriate Government to create a barrier-free environment for the persons with disabilities in physical infrastructure, transport, information and communication technology and other facilities and services. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the Government to ensure that all public information related to each sector is accessible to all categories of the persons with disabilities including persons with hearing impairment,” read the copy of the letter by Anjali Bhawra accessed by ANI.
“Since sign language is one of the preferred modes of communication for persons with hearing impairment, it will be in the proper fitness of things for making provisions of sign language interpretation in every meeting/seminar/workshop including briefing being organized by the Ministries/Departments/their organizations,” the letter further read.
Through the letter, Anjali Bhawra also informed that the Government has set up Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) for the purpose of promoting the use of sign language in the country. The Ministries/Departments may take technical support from this Institute for the provisioning of Sign language interpretation at their meetings/seminars workshops/press briefings.
In compliance with the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, Anjali Bhawra had also written to the Central Ministries on 8 October 2021 requesting for using the services of a sign language interpreter at the meetings/seminars/workshops organized by the Ministries/Departments.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the Centre and States on May 3, on a plea seeking direction to the governments to include sign language interpreters in all the official press briefings conducted by the government.
A bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Vikram Nath asked the governments to file their responses to the PIL filed by disability rights activist and advocate M Karpagam, which stated that all the press briefings held in India are neither inclusive nor accessible.