Legal Conference on Deafness, 25th November 2006 - Part 2
The Human Rights Law Network is a network of social activists, lawyers, and researchers around the country who work on Human Rights issues. We use the legal system to help the marginal and vulnerable to fight for their rights. This Symposium is a step in that direction. HRLN has done a similar Symposium with the Blind groups last year. Since we have activists with hearing impairments from around 20 states of the country sitting with us, we are happy that we will use the next two days to build links with your states as well. HRLN's work on disability started in 2000 when we had a conference on Globalization, Social movement and Law. It was then that we realized that Disability is a newly emerging area of human rights and it was important that Human Rights groups work on this issue. At the Panchgani Conclave, we had a conference on Disability and after that we have progressed substantially in this area with disability groups around the country. We have done the case on elections on the right to vote for the disabled. Shakeel from HRLN Hyderabad got a landmark victory of getting dwarfs included into the disabled category. Many of our units are involved in the application of quota/ reservation for disabled people and in getting the same implemented. We have a case in Chennai wherein the court was asked to direct the Government to provide access to disabled persons in places of religious worship. Our work with the deaf groups grew out of a lecture series in 2004 when we had the deaf activist from the United States Jeff Rosen. He was president of the National Council for the disabled, a National body which advises the President of the United States on matters related to disability. His being deaf focused our attention on the issue of deaf and the problems they faced. While the disabled are the marginalized groups in society, the deaf are often more marginalized. We noticed that even among the disability groups there is very little sensitivity on issues of deaf. That forced our focus and our thinking that we should do something on disability in relation to the hearing impaired. Today is the effort in that direction. This Symposium would not have been possible without the help of all our partners who have helped us bring people from all over the country and we hope that we use these two days to build a national network. Jeff Rosen said that the only way to get your right is to mobilize and fight for that. How do we form the national network? What are the critical issues that we are going to take up after this? How do we link with the lawyers and take some critical cases in the courts as well?