ISLAMABAD-Activists for the persons with disabilities on Friday urged parliamentarians to legislate for the financial independence of the disabled persons and direct banks to ensure special facilities for them.

This was stated in a joint statement released by Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness, Pakistan Blind Cricket Council, the Internet Society Accessibility Special Interest Group and blind academicians, government officials, blind cricket professionals and blind rights activists.

They submitted recommendations for the consideration of parliamentarians to make ICT Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill effective in order to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.

The activists said that all persons with disabilities should be entitled to open their personal bank accounts in any bank. They should be provided with facilities like debit and credit cards and online banking on equal basis like others and banks would not deny any facility on the basis of disability condition. They demanded that banks should ensure all facilities to persons with disabilities, including making ATMs accessible through audible instructions for blind and enhancing physical access for wheelchair users.

Further, they recommended that the government shall ensure that Persons with Disabilities (PWD) are provided with a fare competition environment at all levels of education. In this context, Persons with Disabilities particularly with visual impairment shall be provided with accessible assistance in all types of tests/exams in school, board, college, university, as well as technical and vocational institutes.

They said accessible assistance include provision of scribe (writer) or alternative formats including: audio, braille, electronic or large print versions of standard print.

It should be the responsibility of examining authority/institution to ensure provision of scribe (writer) or alternative formats to PWD students, according to their choice and ease of method for appearing in exams/tests.

The government should ensure that PWDs are provided with a fare competition environment at all public sector job vacancies. In this context, Persons with disabilities particularly with visual impairment shall be provided with accessible assistance in all types of tests/exams.

The activists also recommended that the Disability Commission shall have powers of a civil court to address individual and collective complaints of violations of human rights of persons with disabilities stipulated in this Act and impose necessary sanctions and fines on individuals, entities and organisations, including government departments on non-compliance. (Fine may be one day salary of public official for each day of the delay up to 100,000 in addressing the grievance of a disabled person, and the penalty for private entities should also be fixed in the Act)).

They recommended government should ensure that all websites hosted by Pakistani website service providers are accessible to persons with disabilities according to AA level of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG) of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

They also said that all airlines shall provide accessibility services to persons with disabilities as per their requirements and international standards including wheelchair and human assistance.