THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Societies or NGOs planning to start a welfare home for the disabled should attempt it only if they are able to provide a space of at least 40 feet for one inmate. Existing homes for disabled, including those run by the state, will be granted renewal only if this condition of space is met.
The ‘minimum space requirement’ is one of the few stringent conditions introduced by the Social Justice Department for the registration and renewal of institutions working for persons with disabilities under the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act, 1995.
The other major conditions include: the welfare home should be located at a place where there is “proper transport accessibility”; there should be a minimum of 20 persons in a home; rehabilitation centres and special schools should have have classrooms proportionate to the number of children; these homes should also have an office room, staff room, recreation hall, store, kitchen, dining hall, therapy room and day-care facilities.
Under the PWD Act, disability covers a swathe of conditions like blindness, low vision, hearing impairment, locomotor impairment, mental retardation, mental illness, autism, cerebral palsy, multiple disability and leprosy.
“Earlier, it was virtually free for all. We have come across places where 30-40 mentally-challenged children are stuffed in rooms barely comfortable for ten,” a top Social Justice Department official said. He said that the new set of guidelines was evolved to ensure minimum standards in welfare institutions.
“Under the new guidelines, a competent authority designated by the Social Justice Directorate will carry out regular supervisory checks and will have the power to cancel the registration of homes,” the official said....