Following a protest by disabled rights groups Thursday, the government issued an advisory to all news channels telecasting the Republic Day parade to take signals from public broadcaster Doordarshan that will provide sign language interpretation of the event.
The step by the information and broadcasting ministry came after protests by disabled people demanding that all Doordarshan channels must have sign language interpreters for the parade telecast, an official release said Thursday.
The information and broadcasting ministry earlier decided to have sign language interpreters on only three TV channels, following which a protest was launched Thursday by the Disabled Rights Group (DRG) and National Association of the Deaf.
Hundreds of people with disabilities, especially the hearing impaired, gathered outside the Shastri Bhavan protesting the ministry’s decision to have a sign language interpreters only on DD Bharati, DD News and DD Urdu channels. The ministry is housed at the Shastri Bhavan in the New Delhi area, the seat of the central government.
DRG convenor Javed Abidi said they also protested Jan 20 against the ministry’s decision on sign language interpretation on only the three DD channels.
Abidi said their only demand was for making the telecast of the Republic Day parade intelligible via sign language interpretation on all channels of Doordarshan, especially DD National.
“We are desperately hoping that the ministry will change its mind. The issue is not technical nor the lack of resources or time. It is simply the lack of will on the part of the ‘babus’ of the ministry,” he said in the statement.
The group said there are more than 18 million deaf people in India and it was their fundamental right to be treated equally and enjoy the same rights as other citizens.
The advisory also said that while the media has been in the forefront in taking up important issues of national interest, this initiative by the media to facilitate access to the Republic Day parade and commentary to people with disabilities was a step in the right direction.