Several schemes are launched by the state and central governments for the welfare of persons with disabilities and other underprivileged sections of the society. In the context of disability, a pioneering initiative was introduced a few years ago, Unique Disability ID or UDID.
The UDID project initiated by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities aims at building a holistic end-to-end integrated system for Issuance of Universal ID & Disability Certificates for Person with Disabilities with their identification and disability details. This will not only help create a national database but also put a check on implementation of policies and welfare schemes.
Despite the well-meaning intention of the government, there are gaps that exist in terms of infrastructure, technology and more importantly a clarity in procedural understanding. As a result, the end beneficiary has to run from pillar to post for basic rights. Below are three such accounts from different parts of Maharashtra.
Twenty-eight-year-old Sopnil Malutre from Raigad district applied for his UDID card and as per procedure, went to Alibaug Civil Hospital for a medical checkup. Despite being totally blind, he was issued a certificate of only 40% disability because the hospital didn’t have proper machines to ascertain his condition. On advice from the Eyeway counselor, Sopnil insisted for a recommendation letter from Alibaug hospital authorities redirecting him to JJ Hospital which was better equipped to diagnose him. Without the reference letter, Sopnil wouldn’t have been able to change his jurisdiction as per address and go to another hospital to get a 100% Disability Certificate.
Sixty-year-old Shrikant Jamsandekar from Mulund, Mumbai waited for six months in 2020 after applying for the card online, only to find out that the official site listed his card as ‘expired’. This, when he was never issued a UDID. Because of the system’s error, he couldn’t even reapply as the site showed his details as already registered. The Eyeway counselor spoke to a State Coordinator who has the power the delete the entry from the system backend, following which Shrikant could reapply. The hospital in this case was unable to help him as they didn’t know how to deal with a technical glitch.
Sixty-three-year-old Kashinath Shastri from Palgarh district submitted his documents to the district Civil hospital in March 2022. Six months later when he received no update on his card, the Eyeway counselor suggested him to visit the hospital personally. The medical staff informed him that the file was pending because his diagnosis wasn’t completed by the hospital. But he wasn’t notified of this procedure. Thankfully since he visited in person, he got his 100% certification and the UDID issued.
These are only a handful of accounts from one state. The technical errors, lack of clarity, implementation glitches and more have led to unprecedented delays in the UDID issuance. Most persons with vision impairment don’t always have the ease of accessing applications and status online. They also lack the independence to visit hospitals or other government facilities due to barriers in access. As in the past, the Eyeway Helpdesk continues to offer support in every form to ease their challenges.