There is no alternative to creating opportunities for the people with disabilities to have them participate actively in national development and poverty alleviation programmes, said discussant at a roundtable yesterday.
They said due to superstition, ignorance and lack of understanding, people with intellectual disabilities and the autistic are regarded as lunatics and ostracised from society.
People with disabilities, autistic children and their parents, several Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) mayoral and councillor aspirants, social and NGO activists and government officials took part in the roundtable.
The discussion was titled as Dialogue on Promoting Rights of Persons with Autism, Intellectual Disability and Multiple Disabilities with Candidates of (SEID) and The Daily Star jointly organised the discussion at The Daily Star Centre in the capital.
Addressing the roundtable, Ranjan Karmaker, chairperson of SEID, said, "People with different disabilities should be transformed into skilled human resources."
They had the right to be independent and live with dignity like others, he said, adding that a combined effort of the NGOs, local government representatives, the media, the administration and the civil society was needed to ensure it.
“Our society has a diverse section of people and setting a single standard to serve all their needs is inadequate,” said Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh.
DCC South mayor aspirants Shirin Akhter, Tuhin Malik and M Enamul Huq also agreed that the local government bodies should focus on areas like city infrastructure, transportation, education and health to make the city convenient for the people with disabilities.
Highlighting the difficulties these people face every day, Tuhin Malik said, “It is a major challenge for them to move from one place to another as the city infrastructure is not quite friendly to them.”
He alleged that most of the government funds for people with disabilities ends up in the hands of people with political influence.
Mazharul Mannan, coordinator of the newly established Autism Resource Centre at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), thanked the government for opening the centre.
He urged the government to pass the proposed disability act immediately.
Ranjit Kumar Biswas, secretary to the Social Welfare Ministry, said he was upbeat about the new movement of creating awareness about the rights of people with disabilities.
Former election commissioner M Sakhawat Hossain said the poll booths cannot cater for the needs of the people with disabilities. He proposed keeping special mark on voter identity cards so that others could quickly recognise them.
Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (retd), editor of Defence & Strategic Affairs of The Daily Star, Dilara Sattar Mitu, dircetor of SEID Trust and Azeeza Aziz Khan, director of SIMCL of Summit Group took part in the roundtable, among others.