Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Rights of Persons with Disabilities


  1. Voting Rights for Persons With Disability

Political Rights were never thought of as important. SMRC started to campaign for these - visiting booths and demonstrating. We met the Election Commissioner in Odisha and T. N. Sheshan to drive the point home.  The organization spearheaded a statewide campaign on Right to Vote. We had a direct meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner who assured us that; all necessary attention will be paid to enable persons with disabilities to vote independently. However, it did not happen. As part of the direct action a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court, which has directed the Election Commission of India to implement the recommended infrastructure for the purpose.


  1. Implementation of Disability Act 1995

In coordination with the National Movement a programme was launched for the implementation of the Disability Act with its notification in Orissa in 1997.  Many branches soon were formed - some like Share: (Shared Adventure, Recreation, and Entertainment) which SMRC set up under the leadership of Gourang Sinha, our physiotherapist, in 1996, had a number of later day disability activists who began working on disability issues, Shruti Mahapatra, Innu Singh, Nilmadhav and Indira Pattnaik started with Share. 

The forum spread to all Districts and carried out many Campaigns till DPI came into the State and decided they would charter their own course. So we wound up the Forum as duplication of scarce resources is never good.

This Advocacy work has found a place for the organization at the National and State Level. We believe that, we have an immense responsibility to prevent the legislation becoming a piece of paper only. Later the National Act also an Act, we joined in promotion at the National Level.


  1. Prevention, Safety & Physical Accessibility

The road safety week is observed and aimed at reducing the incidence of disability. The organization along with the school children organized awareness on prevention programe on road accidents, non- use of helmets and seat belts as well as non-adherence to rules and regulations which results in death. 

Prevention of disability has always been an important component among the disability issues. SMRC worked on different fronts and platforms to achieve this goal. This included prevention of childhood disability, of accidents and promoting industrial safety. 

Usage of helmets and seatbelts was promoted at national level ministries and sensitizing people at local level. India was still not prepared so we moved to the national level to take up the matter with the automobile industry and the Transport ministry. In Bhubaneswar school children assisted in creating public awareness.   The schools helped out with children promoting the idea at all petrol pump stations.  The children underwent training in first aid and awareness on importance of road safety rules and in first aid with help of St. John’s Ambulance. 
In 1989, Critical Care became an important prevention programme. This programme was conducted with the National Association for Critical Care Medicine, Delhi. Dr N.P. Singh a pioneer in the work backed us in our work, providing technical expertise for training of medical practitioners and para medic workers.

The second major programme was in critical care with focus on prevention of SCI. It extended to safety programmes of electricity workers and industry on ‘Voluntary Compliance’ in use of Safety Equipments and Aids in industries.  In the second part of the safety programme, prevention of SCI became a major programme guided by Sir George Bedbrook and Perth Hospital Australia linked up on accident site management.

Under childhood disability IEC material was made and ICDS workers were involved in creating awareness on prevention of childhood disability. 

SMRC spearheaded the physical accessibility movement in Odisha and at the national level. Our Founder was invited by Late Shree Y.D.Sharma, Governor of Orissa to meet him. He sat before the flight of stairs when the ADC expressed he could be carried up. He told the ADC that it will not be a very dignified entry in to the Raj Bhawan. The Governor enquired what our Founder had said. Soon after he ordered a ramp to be constructed - An extremely sensitive gesture.

In other cases we had to protest for instance outside the Assembly, certain hotels and the BDA. As sensitivity grew the Big Bazaar (A mall) not only made it fully accessible but invited us to test the accessibility. 

In our work, ICTA (safety etc)  initially played an important role as did our interaction with David Werner (wheelchairs) - the two who spearheaded the accessibility movement worldwide.



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