The draft Bill states that the university would have eight departments.
A Bill for the creation of a university of disability studies and rehabilitation sciences, which was first proposed in the 2015-2016 Budget, is likely to be introduced in the Budget session of Parliament set to begin on Friday, said Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry officials.
The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under the Ministry had published a draft of the University of Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences Bill, 2021 on December 24, 2020 and sought comments from the public till January 3. According to an official, around 150 responses have been received.
The government had first proposed converting an existing State-level institute in Kerala into a national-level university. However, the project was later changed into a greenfield one in Kamrup, Assam.
According to the draft Bill, the proposed university would be a “multi-disciplinary academic institution conducting research, programmes and courses from the Bachelor’s level onwards”. The draft Bill states that the university would have eight departments: disability studies; rehabilitation sciences; audiology and speech language pathology; special education; psychology; nursing; orthotics, prosthetics and assistive technology; and inclusive and universal design.
The detailed project report for the university states that there is a wide gap in the demand for and the actual number of rehabilitation professionals. Apart from filling that gap, the university could act as a mentor for other institutes when it comes to research, curriculum building and affiliation, the official said.
Speaking to The Hindu, DEPwD Secretary Shakuntala D. Gamlin said, “The need for rehabilitation professionals is huge and there is a vacuum in this regard.”
“The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) which regulates rehabilitation courses and maintains a registry of rehabilitation personnel such as clinical psychologists, rehabilitation psychologists, occupational therapists, psychiatric nursing, prosthetics and orthotics, caregivers, speech therapists, audiologists, etc. in the country has on its rolls 1.65 lakh registered rehabilitation professionals and personnel. The requirement of rehabilitation professionals in the country is about 10 times more,” the project report said.