Not even one percent of Indian educational institutions is user-friendly for disabled persons, participants at the National Convention of Youth with Disabilities have said here. According to statistics from the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India website, as of February there are 789 universities, 37,204 colleges and 11,443 stand-alone institutions in India. “Yet, not more than one percent of our educational institutions are disabled-friendly,” said participants at the just concluded national event for the brightest disabled students of the country. “Fifty per cent of persons with disabilities are under 25 years of age, in keeping with India’s demographic dividend, yet none of the universities are truly accessible. 

“A ramp here or a disabled-friendly toilet there doesn’t qualify the college or university as accessible,” Javed Abidi, Director at the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), said in a statement on Monday. Moreover, “not even one per cent of the seats in higher educational institutions are currently occupied by disabled people,” the participants said, at the event jointly organised by NCPEDP and global software major Accenture. Few students who make it to the higher education institutions face problems like accommodation, travelling which become too expensive for them, they said. “We still have a very, very long road ahead of us in order for our educational institutions to become genuinely accessible and disabled friendly,” Abidi added.

Since 1995, the government has made it mandatory for all government educational institutions and other educational institutions receiving aid from the government to reserve three per cent seats for persons with disability. This reservation was increased to four per cent in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016. However, the quota on paper is of no use if the entire educational system remains hostile to students with disabilities, the participants said. The convention witnessed the presence of a total of 100 persons with disabilities, including 65 students from top notch institutes of the country.