Outdated info, non-inclusivity in govt websites leaves PwDs fuming

The irony here is that even the website of Commissionerate for Welfare of the Differently Abled is non-inclusive and does not update on necessary schemes, availability of devices etc.
Commissionerate website carrying same message for several months with no update.
Commissionerate website carrying same message for several months with no update.

CHENNAI: While the government is keen on launching mobile apps and online portals for able-bodied citizens to avail schemes, licences and approvals with just a few clicks, Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) feel particularly left out in this regard. They allege that most government websites lack inclusivity and benefits can only be availed by walking into the office.

The irony here is that even the website of Commissionerate for Welfare of the Differently Abled is non-inclusive and does not update on necessary schemes, availability of devices etc, and mostly carries only outdated information, allege several prominent voices from the disabled community.

V Gopalakrishnan, a city-based activist who helps his wife avail disability benefits, explains, “At most times, the Commissionerate website can be seen carrying outdated schemes. We want information on the stock of devices used by PwDs and scheme details from all the other departments. The site has no information on the stock of reflective stick, smart streak mobile and talking watch pro digital, and the kinds of devices used by disabled people. There are no online facilities to register for devices and other benefits.”

Meanwhile, the Commissionerate website has been carrying the message ‘new integrated services that benefits PwDs is to be launched by the department soon’ for several months, but thus far no action or information regarding the launch has been given. Besides this, the PwDs have also been struggling to navigate through the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency website.

“Through the e-governance website, persons can get money lender licence and pawn broker license, but the website is non-inclusive for PwDs, as most of the time we’re dependent on others to do the job for us,” said Rajesh, a person with locomotor disability residing in Karapakkam.

Though they can apply for monthly allowance online through the REV-206 Differently Abled Pension Scheme (DAPS) under E-Governance Agency, the website does not have an online facility to appeal to the district collector or Commissionerate if the application is rejected.

Other challenges include lack of system to avail or communicate about their needs online. Hence, they insist that steps must be taken to deliver essentials through India Post or through a person from the district office.

Also, they never receive acknowledgement for any application submitted at Chennai district office. Hence there is no documented proof of the person visiting the office report on a delay in issuing bus pass and train travel pass. PwDs also lament that there’s no facility to avail for bus or train passes online.

It’s important to recall here that in July, Alex (76) was stopped from boarding a bus in Chetpet as the conductor said he took up space meant for four persons. Alex had been rushing to purchase a new wheelchair.

Department officials did not respond despite multiple attempts.

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