New Delhi:

A six-month programme on rehabilitation of differently-abled people was launched by the government on Wednesday.

The Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) programme aims to create a pool of grassroot rehabilitation workers at the community level, who can work alongside the ASHA and anganwadi workers to handle cross-disability issues and facilitate the inclusion of the persons with disabilities in the society. 

The content and curriculum of the course have been developed by a committee of experts drawn from India and Australia.

The programme has been designed to provide competency-based knowledge and skills among these workers to enhance their ability for successfully discharging their duties. These workers will be called "divyang mitra" (friends of persons with disabilities).

A senior official said the Rehabilitation Council of India intends to roll out the course initially on a pilot basis for two batches in seven National Institutes of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and 7-9 voluntary organisations that have experience in community-based rehabilitation programmes.

"Initially, the programme will be available in English, Hindi and seven regional languages, namely Gujarati, Marathi, Odiya, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil and Garo. The classes for the first batch of about 600 students are expected to commence by August. The mode of training for the course would be both offline and online, taking into account the prevailing COVID scenario," the official said.

This CBID course has been co-designed by the Rehabilitation Council of India and the University of Melbourne as a joint initiative under a memorandum of understanding signed between India and Australia on November 22, 2018 for cooperation in the disability sector.

The National Board of Examination in Rehabilitation under the Rehabilitation Council of India will conduct the examinations and award certificates to the successful candidates.

Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot virtually launched the six-month programme in the presence of Minister of State, Social Justice and Empowerment Pal Gurjar, Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O''Farrell, High Commissioner of India to Australia Manpreet Vohra, Secretary, DEPwD Anjali Bhawra and vice chancellor of the Melbourne University Professor Duncan Maskell.