‘Direct Government to provide sign language interpreters,’ activist tells Supreme Court

They should be able to learn news on their own

A disability rights activist and advocate has moved the Supreme Court to direct the Government to provide sign language interpreters during briefings of Heads of States, Ministers and officials.

Advocate M. Karpagam, a disabled lawyer practising at the Madras High Court, said disabled people have an equal right to information and communication. They should be able to learn the news on their own to analyse and take their own decisions based on the information.

The plea said the disabled should be able to access the official press briefings of Ministers and Heads of States. It was their statutory right under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Access to sign language is the basic right of the hearing-impaired. The Act unequivocally prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, which includes failing to provide meaningful access to public benefits, programmes or services.

The law puts the Government under an obligation to facilitate easy access to information and communication to them.

The petition pointed out how the disabled were left in the dark because sign language interpreters were not provided during important press briefings on the COVID-19 updates.

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