Governmental Programs and Schemes for People with Disabilities

In the previous post we learned about Resource mobilization in the field of disability In this post, we'll go through some of the most important disability-related policies and programmes. Learning outcomes for this blog include: 

  • An understanding of government institutional systems supporting policies and programmes aimed at the well-being of individuals with disabilities. 
  • Understand the important plans and schemes initiated by the Indian government to promote welfare among the person with handicap..


  1. Introduction
  2. Legal Rights of the Person with Disability in India
  3. Government schemes for the disabled


Disability as a societal concern is gaining attention at the highest levels of government and policy-making in recent years, thanks to grassroots groups and NGOs. Since 2001, India's decennial population census has included disability, addressing a post-independence anomaly, and disabled individuals can now vote. The Union Government recently established a disability section in the Ministry of Social Justice. Raising understanding of legal rights, entitlements, and duties is another way to ensure public responsibility and alter the lives of the disabled. Since 1872, India has collected census data on disability and has had special schools and institutions since the 19th century. The Indian Lunacy Act of 1912 made provisions for those with mental illness and retardation. Article 41 and the State List recognise general state commitments to PWD. In the 1960s, employment concessions were implemented.

Legal Rights of the Person with Disability in India: 

Among developing nations, India has one of the more advanced national policy frameworks for people with disabilities, although there is still room for development, especially at the sub-national level. As in many other areas of social policy, institutional capacity and coordination issues have led to implementation that regularly falls short of expectations. The disabled are treated with respect and acknowledgment in India because it is a democratic nation. The disabled have access to a number of acts, laws, and rules that protect their fundamental rights. Some of the significant laws and legal frameworks introduced by the GOI include I the Mental Health Act, 1987; (ii) the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995; (iii) the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 and amended in 2000; and (iv) the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (National Trust Act Even the Indian constitution contains plenty of evidence to support the legal rights of those with disabilities. Below are some of the key provisions discussed.

The Indian Constitution

The Constitution of India applies uniformly to every legal citizen of India, whether they are healthy or disabled. Under the Constitution the disabled have been guaranteed the following fundamental rights: 
  • a) The Constitution secures to the citizens would be an offence punishable in accordance including the disabled, a right of justice, with law as provided by Article 17 of the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and constitution, worship, equality of status and of opportunity and for the promotion of fraternity. 
  • b) Article 15 (1) enjoins on the Government not Constitution to discriminate against any citizen of India (including disabled) on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. 
  • c) Article 15 (2) States that no citizen (including the disabled) shall be subjected to any disability, liability, restriction or condition on any of the above grounds in the matter of their access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment or in the use of wells, tanks, bathing gates, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of government funds or dedicated to the use of the general public. 
  • d) Every person including the disabled has his life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. 
  • e) Every disabled person can move the Supreme Court of India to enforce his fundamental rights and the rights to move the Supreme Court is itself guaranteed by Article 32.
In addition to these fundamental laws, there are special laws that promote and disseminate the rights of people with disabilities. These laws are described in more detail below.

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995

On February 7, 1996, the Act went into effect. It is a crucial step in ensuring that people with disabilities have equal opportunities and may fully participate in daily life. The Act covers both preventive and promotional aspects of rehabilitation, such as prevention, early intervention, education, employment and vocational training, reservations, research, and the development of human resources. It also covers the creation of barrier-free environments, unemployment benefits, special insurance plans for disabled workers, and the construction of homes for people with severe disabilities, among other things.

The Act offers a procedure for handling complaints from people with disabilities. People with disabilities may file an application with the following authorities in the event that their rights are violated as specified in this act:
  • Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities in the Centre and 
  • Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities in the State

The Mental Health Act 1987

Over 130 million individuals in India are thought to suffer from one or more mental disorders, according to estimates from the WHO. One of the Act's main goals was to
  • To guarantee that everyone has access to at least the bare minimum of mental health treatment in the near future, especially the most disadvantaged and defenceless segments of the society.
  • To promote the use of information about mental health in general healthcare and social development. to encourage community involvement in the creation of mental health services and to foster community-wide self-help initiatives.
A central authority for mental health services under the federal government and a state authority for mental health services under the state government were to be established, per the Acts.

The Rehabilitation Council of India Act 1992

In India, rehabilitation programmes have been available to people with impairments for more than a century. Prior to the founding of RCI, however, there were rarely any deliberate efforts made in the field to generate trained people. One of the main obstacles to the country's rehabilitation services expanding has been a lack of qualified labour. A Rehabilitation Council was established by the Indian government in 1986 with the following responsibilities:

programmes and policies for training;
  • To harmonise the training programmes offered to professionals that work with people with impairments
  • To recognise the organisations offering these training programmes
  • to keep an updated Central Rehabilitation Register of rehabilitation specialists, and
  • to advance special education and rehabilitation research
For comprehensive rehabilitation of people with disabilities to meet their needs throughout their entire life cycle, including physical and medical rehabilitation, educational rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation, and social rehabilitation, RCI is the only institution that focuses on manpower development of different categories of professionals. To meet the diverse demands of the industry and the intended audience, the Council has designated many categories of rehabilitation specialists. These are classified as:
  1. Audiologists and speech therapists 
  2. Clinical psychologists 
  3. Hearing aid and ear mould technicians 
  4. Rehabilitation engineers and technicians 
  5. Special teachers for education and training the handicapped 
  6. Vocational counselors, employment officers and placement officers dealing with the Handicapped 
  7. Multipurpose rehabilitation therapists and technicians 
  8. Speech pathologists 
  9. Rehabilitation psychologists 
  10. Rehabilitation social workers 
  11. Rehabilitation practitioners in mental retardation 
  12. Orientation and mobility specialists
    Community based rehabilitation professionals 
  13. Rehabilitation counsellors/ administrators 
  14. Prosthetists and orthotists 
  15. Rehabilitation workshop managers

The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999

The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, and Multiple Disability must be established in New Delhi in conformity with this Act and for the benefit of the disabled. The establishment of a national organisation for the welfare of people with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and multiple disabilities is made possible by this Act. Such a national organisation will be a trust with the following objectives:
  • To enable and empower persons with disabilities to live as independently and as fully as possible within and as close to the community to which they belong 
  • To strengthen facilities to give support to persons with disability to live within their own families 
  • To offer support to registered organisation to provide need based services during the period of crisis in the family of persons with disabilities 
  • addressing the needs of people with disabilities who lack the support of their families;
  • To promote measures for the care and protection of persons with disability in the event of death of their parent or guardian 
  • To evolve mechanism for the appointment of guardians and trustees for persons with disability requiring such protection 
  • To assist the fulfilment of equal opportunity, preservation of rights and full participation of persons with handicap
  • To perform any other action that isn't directly related to the aforementioned goals.

Government schemes for the disabled

Government of India had developed numerous assistance initiatives for the disabled citizens. Some of the biggest welfare programmes are discussed below.

Disability certificate and identity card

The separate Medical boards created at state or district level are the certifying authority to issue disability certificate. The board consists of a chief medical officer / sub divisional medical officer in the district and another expert in the specified field for example, an ophthalmic surgeon in case of visual handicaps; either an ENT surgeon or an audiologist in case of speech and hearing handicaps, an orthopaedic surgeon or a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation in case of locomotor handicaps and a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist in case of mental handicaps.

Special education programmes for youngsters

The population at large is sometimes unaware of the potential of children with exceptional needs. In the popular perception, special needs are frequently identified with relatively low expectations. There are different provisions for education of children with disabilities. Inclusive education promotes the idea of having all the students with special needs enrolled in mainstream schools with necessary adaptations as far as practicable. After the assessment of their disability by a team of specialists (a doctor, a psychologist, and a special educator), the kid will be put in appropriate educational setting. It is possible for children with mild and moderate disabilities to attend ordinary schools, whereas children with severe disabilities should attend special schools. Dropouts who are unable to take use of the services provided by regular schools might enrol in open schools. Children with impairments can pursue vocational training in both general education and special education settings.

Assistance to disabled persons for purchase/fitting of aids and appliances (ADIP Scheme) (ADIP Scheme)

India has a relatively big population of persons with disabilities and many of them belong to low income groups. The government has made it a priority to provide low-cost assistive technology to people with disabilities. The demand for providing of aids/appliances, which are vital for the social, economic and vocational rehabilitation of the disabled persons, has come into sharp focus, particularly after the implementation of the PWD Act, 1995. The project aims at aiding the disabled folks by providing adequate, durable scientifically designed modern, standard equipment and appliances into their reach.

Employment of the disabled

Assistance to the disabled persons in getting gainful job is available either through the special cells in standard employment exchanges or through special employment exchanges for physically handicapped. State and union territory governments offer up to 100% and 80% financial aid respectively in the case of special cells and special employment exchanges.

Reservation of jobs and other facilities for disabled persons

As per the order of government of India, reservation of 3% in jobs have been made in Grade 'C' and 'D' posts for the physically handicapped persons. The categories benefited are given below:
Category of Disability                          Percentage of Reservation
The Blind                                                              1%
The Deaf                                                               1%
The Orthopedic Handicapped                                 1%
As per the provision, relaxation on age, qualification, and exemption of fees etc were provided for the persons with disability.

Scheme of Integrated Education for the Disabled Children

In 1974, the Department of Social Welfare introduced this Centrally Sponsored Program, which was later moved to the Department of Education in 1982. Under the scheme handicapped students are sought to be integrated in conventional education system. The Hearing Handicapped (mild and moderate impaired only) are provided allowance for purchase of Books, stationery, uniform, transport and disabled children residing in school hostels within the same institution where they are studying may also be paid boarding and lodging charges as admissible under Govt. rules/schemes.

Scholarships for the Disabled

The Scheme of Scholarship is run by union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment through State Governments to disabled persons from the 9th class onwards for general technical or professional education. The scholarhip is awarded for all kinds of impaired students subject to their gaining of atleast 40 percent marks at the last yearly examination.

Railway Travel Concession

The Ministry of Railway permits the disabled persons/patients to travel at concessional tariffs in Indian railways. On possession of a medical certificate provided by a government medical officer, passengers who are deaf are entitled to a 50% discount on rail rates for both one-way and roundtrip travel. After validating the certificate concessional tickets will be provided by the station master. 50 percent concessions is also permitted in monthly seasonal (first and second class) ticket fares to the deaf. No concession will be made for the escort of the deaf person. Permission is also provided to travel by 2tier-AC sleeper on payment of the concessional fee for first class and full surcharge leviable on 2 tier AC sleeper.

Economic Assistance

Public Sector Banks:
Physically Handicapped persons are eligible to take loans under the scheme, if they satisfy the following conditions:
  • Should be pursuing a gainful occupation. 
  • Should not have hand holding exceeding 1 acre if irrigated, and 25 acres if un-irrigated. 
  • Should not incur liability to two sources of finance at the same time. 
  • Should work largely on their own and with such help as other members of their family or some joint partners may give them and should not employ paid employers on a regular basis.
The specific financing plan that has been proposed will determine the loan amount. It should be sufficient to allow the borrower to meet his needs without taking out additional loans. The interest rate will always be 4% every year, keeping in mind the social aim. Physically disabled people are eligible for loans under the DRI scheme to buy wheelchairs, hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, and other medical equipment, up to a maximum of Rs. 2500/- per borrower, provided that they also receive advances for self-employment projects and productive activities. A unique provision has been provided under the "Financing Small Scale Industries" scheme to permit interest concession to the physically handicapped availing working capital limit beyond Rs. 2500 and up to Rs. 2 lakhs.

Schemes and Programmes under the National Trust:

The National Trust was setup in the context of parents’ worries that what will happen to their children with special needs when they are no more. In order to provide a sustainable solution to this rather difficult problem the following programme was conceived and implemented by the National Trust.


The Lifelong Shelter and Care Plan was created with the following goals in mind:
  • To provide an assured minimum quality of care services throughout the life of the persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities 
  • To encourage assisted living with independence and dignity 
  • To facilitate establishment of requisite infrastructure for the assured care system throughout the country 
  • To provide the care services at an affordable price on a sustainable basis
In order to live with dignity and freedom, people with disabilities generally confront a number of obstacles, including physical, economical, and psychological ones. Even after their parents have passed away, those with the aforementioned four developmental disorders may need lifelong care and shelter services, making the situation worse. Despite the fact that there is a great need and demand for such a service, it is regrettably not currently offered in the nation.


In order to give interested people high-quality training for working as caretakers for disabled people in need, a New Scheme of Caregivers Training and Deployment Scheme of Community Based Caregivers Training was launched. A new plan for the deployment of caregivers was then introduced after the training module was amended.

Niramaya (Health Insurance Scheme)

The Niramaya scheme's only goal is to offer people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, and Multiple Disabilities access to cheap health insurance.

Prerna (Marketing Scheme)

Prerna is the National Trust's marketing initiative with the goal of developing sustainable and extensive sales channels for goods and services created by people with disabilities (PwD) who are protected by the National Trust Act.


The Samarth scheme's goal is to offer temporary housing for families in need, orphans and abandoned children, people with disabilities from low-income and below-poverty-line families, including destitute people who have at least one of the four disabilities protected by the National Trust Act. It also seeks to provide family members with opportunities to take breaks so they can complete other obligations. To maintain sustainability, it would be the RO's job to recruit PwDs who are either Non-Low Income Groups or who do not fall within the previously specified categories.

Vikaas (Day Care)

In order to increase the opportunities available to a person with a handicap for developing their interpersonal and vocational skills as they transition into older age groups, the Vikaas (Day Care) programme was created. Additionally, when a person with a disability (PwD) is residing at the Vikaas centre, the centre will provide caregiving support. Additionally, it aids in providing family members of PwDs with disabilities protected by the National Trust Act with some free time during the day to take care of other obligations.

PwDs should have access to daycare facilities and age-appropriate activities for at least six hours each day (between 8 am and 6 pm) from Registered Organizations (RO). A month's worth of daycare operations should last at least 21 days. A Vikaas center's anticipated batch size is 30 PwDs. For National Trust to finance a PwD, the PwD must attend the Vikaas centre for a minimum of 15 days per month. The highest number of PwDs that can be admitted to a Vikaas centre in a batch of 30 is 30 percent more than the maximum batch size, or 39 PwDs. When the maximum number of PwDs at the Vikaas centre is reached, additional PwDs are not permitted to enrol there. If ROs have enough PwDs for the new Vikaas Center, they are encouraged to reapply. In order to help more PwD join in the Vikaas centre, the ROs could also contact paediatricians or experts in related fields.

Disha (Early Intervention and School Readiness Scheme) 

This is an early intervention and school readiness programme for children with one of the four disabilities listed in the National Trust Act who are between the ages of 0 and 10 years old. Its goal is to help both the children and their parents learn how to get ready for school and get counselling. The Registered Organization (RO) should have at least a few things in their Disha Center. PWD should be able to go to day care for at least four hours a day (between 8 am and 6 pm) and do activities that are right for their age. There should be at least 21 days a month when the day care is open. For the National Trust to pay for a PwD, they have to go to the Disha centre at least 15 days a month. A Disha centre has a batch size of 20 PwDs, and the most PwDs it can accept is 30% more than the batch size, which is 26. When there are already 26 PwDs at the Disha centre, no more PwDs will be allowed to join. ROs are encouraged to put in another application if they have enough PwDs for the new Disha Centre.

Gyan Prabha

Gyan Prabha scheme aims to encourage people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities for pursuing educational courses like graduation courses, professional courses and vocational training leading to employment or self-employment.

Sahyogi (Caregivers Training Scheme)

This project intends to construct Caregiver Cells (CGCs) to train and create a skilled workforce of caregivers to care for Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and their families. It also offers parents caregiving training, if desired. This programme will offer two levels of training to create caregivers for People with Disabilities (PwDs) families and institutions (NGOs, work centres etc.). The three-month course teaches basic caretaker skills. Primary mandatory modules must address autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, multiple impairments, family requirements, health, nutrition, basic management in daily living, assistive equipment and barrier-free environment, orientation and mobility sensory motor stimulation. It includes first-aid training. This six-month course teaches advanced caregiver skills. Advanced caregiving courses involve language and communication (including sign language), social interactions, socio-emotional management, learning and understanding, behaviour management, managing sexuality, working with adults, and administering advanced medical care.

Badhte Kadam:

Badhte Kadam promotes disability awareness, integration, and mainstreaming. Its goals are listed below
  • Raise public knowledge about PwD covered by National Trust Act and support their inclusion in society, social integration, and engagement in all parts of life. 
  • Disseminate National Trust Act, 1999 preventive strategies for the disabled. 
  • Sensitize stakeholders 
  • Promote and maximise National Trust programmes for ROs, PwDs, and PwD families. 
  • Increase National Trust's presence in distant locations. 
  • Spread awareness about myths and misconceptions about disability, disability etiquette, etc.
Disability inclusion is done through these plans and programmes. Social workers help disabled people access these resources. Social workers can coordinate or manage these programmes using a multidisciplinary team and all available strategies.


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