The ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2020

Definition of disability: The Act provides a definition of disability as a physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This definition is important because it clarifies the scope of the Act and helps to ensure that persons with disabilities are protected from discrimination.

Salient Features

Equity & Non-discrimination: The Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in employment, education, access to healthcare, public transportation, and other areas. This means that persons with disabilities should have equal access to these services and should not be discriminated against in any way.

Accessibility standards: Act requires both the government and private sector to take necessary measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have ease of access to public buildings, hospitals, recreational facilities, public transport, streets, and roads. This includes modifying old buildings and vehicles to make them accessible to persons with disabilities, as well as constructing new buildings and vehicles that conform to appropriate accessibility standards.

Protection from Abuse, Violence, and Exploitation: The act highlights the government's responsibility to protect persons with disabilities from abuse, violence, and exploitation and ensure that they have access to legal aid. It recognizes that persons with disabilities are vulnerable and require specific protection to ensure their safety and well-being.

Equity in Education: The Act aims to provide equal access to education for all, without discrimination. This includes free education from pre-primary to higher education for persons with disabilities, with special educational institutions established for those with moderate to severe disabilities. No person with a disability can be denied admission into any educational institution. The government is responsible for ensuring inclusive education that focuses on developing the personality, creativity, and physical and mental capabilities of persons with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are to be made for persons with disabilities in educational institutions, including hostels, and there is a dedicated effort to train teachers to work with students with various disabilities.

Equity in Employment: The act aims to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in matters of employment and provides for reservation of 1 percent jobs for persons with disabilities. It prohibits any person, institution, organization, or entity, whether public or private, from discriminating against a person on the ground of disability in matters such as employment, promotion, career development and enjoying fruits of his employment. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations, including necessary assistive aids and equipment, to enable persons with disabilities to perform their duties. The terms and conditions of employment for persons with disabilities should not be less favorable than those offered to other persons appointed against the same or similar positions.

Equity in Health and Medical Rehabilitation Services: The act aims to ensure that persons with disabilities have barrier-free access to necessary public health services and infrastructure without any discrimination and at no cost to such persons. The government will encourage private sector health service providers to offer quality services to persons with disabilities at affordable rates or for free. Special health services will be provided for early identification and intervention of disabilities, and medical services will be designed to prevent disabilities. The Council will devise plans to provide special health insurance to persons with disabilities to ensure free medical coverage for such persons.

Right to Accommodation: Act provides that persons with disabilities have the right to live independently in the community and be provided with necessary facilities by the government without discrimination. Every person with a disability has the right to a decent living place of their choice, and no one shall discriminate against them by refusing to rent or sell them a place of living due to their disability. The government must develop policies for fair and affordable housing for persons with disabilities in government-owned, sponsored or assisted projects, and in private housing schemes. The authorities approving the establishment of new housing schemes and plans shall ensure that a suitable number of affordable housing units are included.

Right to Home & Family: No person with disability, especially a child, adult or senior citizen, shall be separated from their family on the grounds of disability unless a court of law requires it in their best interest. If the immediate family of a person with disability, particularly a child with disabilities, is unable to care for them, the Court shall make an effort to place such persons in a setup suitable for their safe living.

Freedom Expression and Right for Political Participation: The act provides that the government must ensure that persons with disabilities have full and equitable rights regarding freedom of speech, expression, and information, and necessary measures shall be taken to ensure that their rights are enjoyed. The act ensures that persons with disabilities have the right to participate in political activities, including voting and running for an elected position. The Election Commission of Pakistan is responsible for ensuring that polling stations are accessible for persons with disabilities and arrangements are made for them to vote confidentially.

Registration of Persons with Disabilities: The act provides for the establishment of a registration system maintained by the Council or its designated office, where any person with a disability desiring to be employed or rehabilitated can have their name registered. The Council may assess the person's functional disability and aptitude for work, and if considered fit for work, the person shall be informed of the nature of work for which they may be employed or trained. If a person is not considered fit for work, the Council shall take appropriate measures for their rehabilitation. Additionally, if a person is declared not to be a disabled person, their name shall be struck off from the register.

Functions of the Council: The Council has a wide range of responsibilities, including implementing and enforcing the objectives of the Act, coordinating with provincial and local governments to develop legal frameworks and policies, conducting research on disability-related issues, monitoring and evaluating the performance of various entities, including private and community-based organizations, and addressing individual and collective complaints of human rights violations against persons with disabilities. The Council also has the authority to enforce institutional mechanisms for effective and transparent functions of organizations, as well as impose restrictions on those that do not meet objective criteria.

Overall, the ICT Persons with Disabilities Act is an important piece of legislation that seeks to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and promote their inclusion in society. By setting out clear standards for accessibility, non-discrimination, and reasonable accommodations, the Act can help to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to fully participate in all areas of life.