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Nepal's disabled struggle for rights

By Xinhua in Kathmandu, Nepal | China Daily | Updated: 2014-12-05 08:21

With 3 percent of its population of 27 million considered people with disabilities, Nepal lags behind other countries in ensuring their rights and privileges, a stark reality highlighted by the UN's International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Wednesday when the country's people with disabilities demanded access to new technology to help them enjoy life.

The theme of this year's International Day was "Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology" but Nepal's disabled still lack easy access to technical devices and equipment that could contribute to their living a normal life.

"We have been struggling to seek our basic rights and to have minimum facilities in health, education and employment so that we can live independently. As of now, we are dependent on others for our daily activities," Manish Prasai, program manager of the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal, said on Wednesday.

Prasai has used a wheelchair since the age of 2 due to polio.

"Aside from wheelchairs and walkers, which you can find only in urban areas, there are no other gadgets or equipment that can assist the disabled in coping with their daily lives. And we are helpless, " he said.

The Nepali government is undertaking measures to help the disabled but it is the non-government organizations and civic groups that are mostly assisting the disabled in the country. However, the assistance is limited in cities and the disabled in the countryside are left to their own devices.

In compliance with United Nations covenants, infrastructure in cities, such as roads, sidewalks and buildings, are wheelchair-friendly. But for other forms of disability, there are no special facilities, Prasai said.

There are no Braille codes on the roads that can be detected through sticks carried by blind people. There is no special software in computers that the disabled, particularly those with impaired vision, can use.

Rashmi Bajracharya, 32, is a blind woman who uses a cane to move around. She feels confident walking with a cane but can do nothing more to avoid a monotonous existence.

Bajracharya said she loves to communicate with other people but can only say "hello" or "goodbye" to friends and relatives through her cellphone.

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