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Sense International hails new legislation by Indian government as a “landmark moment” for people with disabilities

12 January 2017

Sense International, a global charity that supports people with deafblindness, has hailed new legislation by the Government of India as a “landmark moment” for people with disabilities.

The Rights of People with Disabilities Bill 2016, brought in to comply with the United Nations ‘Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities’, replaces The Persons with Disability Act 1995. The 1995 Act recognised 7 disabilities — “blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness.”

The new Act expands the definition of disability to cover 21 conditions, including deafblindness, therefore ensuring a larger number of people are eligible for rights and entitlements. The provisions relate to education, skill development, employment, livelihood, health, recreation, rehabilitation and equal opportunities.

Akhil Paul, Director Sense International India, a member of the committee formed by the Government of India to draft the new bill, said:

“The Rights of People with Disabilities Act 2016 is a landmark moment for the rights of over 26 million people with disabilities in India.

The inclusion of deafblindness is a huge recognition for people who are deafblind and a great success of the advocacy campaigns of Sense International India. This recognition means that there will be budget allocated for supporting grants to non-government organisations to initiate services for people with deafblindness in India.

The Government of India has a robust scheme of distribution of aids and appliances to people with disabilities and now people with deafblindness will be able access appliances like Pac Mate and Braille Readers under this scheme. We look forward to working closely with our partners and the Indian Government to ensure its successful implementation.”

Media enquiries:

For enquiries about Sense International, please contact Laura Brown at the Sense International press office on 020 7014 9381 or email

About Sense International

Sense International is a global charity supporting people with deafblindness in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Romania and Uganda. We are one of the world’s leading international organisations working for people with deafblindness and their families.

Deafblindness is a combination of both sight and hearing difficulties. Some of these people are completely deaf and blind, but others have some remaining use of one or both senses.

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019