Strengthening efforts to empower and bring the differently-abled to the mainstream

National Centre for Assistive Health Technology to come up at Kerala-based NISH, which has made outstanding contributions in empowering the differently-abled

In a bid to build a major facility that would help empower and usher to the mainstream the differently-abled, a National Centre for Assistive Health Technology will be set up at the National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) in the Kerala capital. NISH, which came into being way back in 1997 under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Act of 1995, offers treatment facilities for defects in hearing, speech, language and communication among children as well as adults.

The project proposal to build a National Centre for Assistive Health Technology has been made public in the silver jubilee year of the premier institute that has made outstanding contributions in empowerment of differently abled people. Making the announcement, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the service of the Centre for Assistive Health Technology will also be extended to all districts. Such a state-of-the art facility will also help step up awareness among the differently abled about assistive technology, which is vital to help them lead a normal life, he said.

Need to provide special care for the differently abled

Emphasizing the need to give special care for the differently abled in the post-pandemic period, the Chief Minister said that public spaces, including offices, institutions and tourist destinations, will have to become differently abled-friendly to transform Kerala as a barrier-free state. Around Rs 600-crore worth of projects have been envisaged to make Kerala a barrier-free state.

Besides the proposed National Centre for Assistive Health Technology, the state has been proactively involved in projects aimed at empowering the differently-able. The Centre for Research in Communication Sciences (CRCS), sensory park ‘Safal Sensorium’ and a Scientific Research Cell for the differently-abled have gone on stream. A part of the NISH campus has also been named barrier-free environment campus.

Modern facilities at NISH

The Centre for Research in Communication Sciences (CRCS) has as its goals the creation of a new environment for raising the living standards of the differently-abled and bring about a qualitative change in the research projects concerning the differently-abled. The sensory park, Safal Sensorium, has all the modern facilities for physically and mentally challenged children to develop their mobility, mental and social growth through nature-friendly games. The park, which will host children from age two to 12, is equipped with high-end safety measures. Meanwhile, the Scientific Research Cell will act as an advisory body in activities related to the differently-abled in the state. The Barrier-free Environment campus, set up in Tejas, Dhyan and Amrit buildings at NISH campus, ensures free movement of differently-abled people.

The Chief Minister also stressed that the government is duty-bound to bring the differently-abled to the mainstream of society, adding that the service of the Early Intervention Centre will be made available across the state for the benefit of hearing-impaired kids. The state’s first bilingual school for the deaf and hearing-impaired people will start functioning soon. Earlier, the Kerala government had announced a network of showrooms that sell modern devices for the differently-abled, and projects like Sahajeevanam and Anuyathra in its budget proposals.  

Equipping NISH with modern facilities will be a government initiative, with close to Rs 18.93 crore already been allotted to the institute to launch the higher education foundation programme and neuro development science programme. 

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