Govt. proposes varsity for disability studies, rehabilitation sciences

The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry on Thursday invited comments from the public on a draft Bill for setting up a university for disability studies and rehabilitation sciences.

The Ministry sought comments on the draft University of Disabilities Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences Bill, 2021 till January 3. In the public notice inviting comments, the Ministry said the proposed university to be located in Kamrup district, Assam, would be “the first of its kind.” The university would be a multi-disciplinary institution for research and courses from Bachelor’s level onward.

The university was proposed to have eight departments — disability studies; rehabilitation sciences; audiology and speech language pathology; special education; psychology; nursing; orthotics, prosthetics and assistive technology; and inclusive and universal design.

Shortage of professionals

The Ministry’s proposal stated that there was a shortage of rehabilitation professionals in the country. Only 1.65 lakh professionals, including clinical psychologists, caregivers and speech therapists, were registered with the Rehabilitation Council of India, it said. “The requirement of rehabilitation professionals in the country is about 10 times more,” the draft Bill said.

According to the proposal, the cost of establishing the university was estimated at ₹1,320 core, including ₹857 crore for capital expenditure, of which ₹938 crore would be met through internal resource generation.

Reacting to the Ministry’s invitation of comments, Dr. Satendra Singh, a physician with disabilities and a rights activist, said the draft Bill showed that the Ministry did not “have any idea what disability studies means,” citing the short time frame for submitting comments.

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