Structured Negotiation: Catalyst for Disability Rights Advancement

GS Paper II

News excerpt:

Structured negotiation proves effective in resolving disability rights cases, promoting accessibility and compliance with social welfare legislation.

What is Structured Negotiation?

  • Structured negotiation is a method of problem solving where parties meet to discuss and resolve issues rather than going to court. It is similar to discussing problems while seated around a table.
  • In the case of disability rights, it helps in making things like websites, machines, or services accessible. It's a win-win approach as companies avoid legal troubles, and people with disabilities get better access.
  • In order to create a fair and accessible environment without the inconveniences of going to court, this method works best when everyone agrees to solve problems together.


The WHO defines disability as “any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform in a manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. Disability is a complex concept and is difficult to define since it varies in type, form and intensity.

Significance of structured negotiation for disability rights

  • Transformative and inclusive approach: Structured negotiation stands as a pivotal force in advancing disability rights, offering a transformative and inclusive approach to dispute resolution.
    •   It has convinced Walmart, CVS and Caremark to create accessible prescription bottles for blind or low vision customers. 
  • Fostering a win-win situation: Its significance lies in fostering a win-win situation, addressing the concerns of both defaulting service providers and complainants.
  • Effective in settling disability rights cases: This collaborative and solution-driven technique, increasingly replacing traditional litigation, has proven highly effective in settling disability rights cases, especially in the United States.
  • Resolving issues: The methodology's success in resolving issues related to inaccessible technologies and driving institutional reform underscores its impact.
  • Compliance benefits:  By avoiding the drawbacks of litigation, structured negotiation ensures that defaulting service providers recognize the benefits of compliance with social welfare legislations.

India's Challenge in structured negotiation

  • India faces challenges in implementing structured negotiation for disability rights due to increasing pendency, paperwork, and red tape in civil courts.
  • While the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, empower the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) to address non-compliance, the actual impact on repairing accessibility barriers remains uncertain.
  • The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (‘CCPD’) recently directed PayTM, a digital payments application to make its mobile applications accessible for Persons with Disabilities. In complying with the order, the PayTM application ultimately became more inaccessible. 
    •   It highlights the need for constant vigilance in real-time digital accessibility efforts, posing a significant challenge to the effectiveness of structured negotiation in the Indian context.

Structured negotiation as solution to challenges of ‘Disability Rights’ in India

  • Structured negotiation emerges as a potential solution to challenges in Indian disability rights by offering an alternative to cumbersome legal processes.
  • Facing increasing pendency and red tape in civil courts, the collaborative approach of structured negotiation allows defaulting service providers, like PayTM, to avoid non-compliance labels and legal fees.
  • It empowers Persons with Disabilities to directly engage with service providers, ensuring effective, monitored implementation of accessibility fixes in real time, addressing the unique challenges faced in the Indian context.


The 2030 Agenda for UN Sustainable Development includes persons with disabilities and has thus opened doors for their participation and recognition as active contributing members of society. 

  • Thus, the businesses in India must prioritize disabled users and embrace structured negotiation. 
  • It is time for a proactive stance, acknowledging the importance of accessibility and compliance for long-term success.


Supplementary information on disability:

Present status of disability in India -

  •  As per Census 2011, there are 1.7 Cr. disabled non –workers, among them 46% were males and 54% females.
  •  Among the total disabled non –workers, about 46% are in the age group 15 -59 years, 31% in the age group 0-14 years and 23% are 60+ years. Among the male disabled non – workers, 42% belonged to the age group 15-59 years, while 49% of the female disabled non-workers belonged to this age group.
  •  While the share of disabled non –workers are higher in 0-14 age group compared to 60+ years age group, for both male and female disabled non –workers, for females the difference is less.
  •  One in every two disabled non-workers is dependent on their respective families. Among the male disabled non –workers, nearly 33% are students, while the same among the corresponding category of females is 22%.
  •  Among the disabled non –workers, for all type of disability, percent of dependents are highest followed by students and those performing household duties except for mental illness, where percent of disabled engaged in household duties is more than that of students.
  • Among the disabled non –workers with disability in seeing, 42.7% are dependents and 28% are students; among those with disability in hearing 38.7% are dependents and 32.5% are students.

Challenges facing disabled in India:

  •  Lack of Reliable Data: There are no reliable figures available for the prevalence of disability in India.
  •  Discrepancy in Census-based figures: The census-based figures on disability are usually lower than those based on specific survey data. As they provide only very broad, self-reported data.
  • Limited Job opportunities: Limited scope and variety of jobs offered to people with disabilities, lower possibilities for promotion, lower paying jobs & lower retention rates.
  • Work related issue: Disabled face difficulties with physical access to the workplace, and getting to and from work, inadequate adjustments and adaptations to workplace equipment, inflexible working hours.

Steps taken to empower the people with disability:

  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
    • Expanded recognition of disabilities: The 2016 Act recognizes 21 kinds of disabilities compared to the previous seven, including dwarfism, speech and language disability, and three blood disorders.
    • Alignment with UNCRPD obligations: It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
    • Government responsibility: Responsibility has been cast upon the appropriate governments to take effective measures to ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy their rights equally with others.
    • Right to free education: Every child with a benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
    • Increased quota for disability reservation: The new Act also increased the quota for disability reservation in higher educational institutions from 3% to 5% and in government jobs from 3% to 4%, for a more inclusive society.
    • Grant of guardianship: The Act provides for grant of guardianship by District Court under which there will be joint decision – making between the guardian and the persons with disabilities.
    • Advisory Boards on disability: Broad based Central & State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy making bodies at the Central and State level.
    • National and state funds: Creation of National and State Fund will be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities.
  • Some other important measures  are: 
    • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP)
    • Accessible India Campaign- Sugamaya Bharat Abhiyan
    • DeenDayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme
    • Unique Disability Identification Portal
    • National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities (RGMF)
    • National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR)
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD):
    • The convention seeks to engage member countries in developing and carrying out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in the Convention and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination.
    • It requires countries to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers and ensure that persons with disabilities can access their environment, transportation, public facilities and services, and information and communications technologies.
    • It asks member countries to recognize the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection which includes public housing, services and assistance for disability-related needs, as well as assistance with disability-related expenses in case of poverty.
  • Suggested measures to empower people with disabilities in India
    • Establishing inclusive workplaces with supportive policies, awareness programs, and employment opportunities can foster economic empowerment.
    • Addressing poverty and hunger through initiatives like mid-day meal schemes is vital. Ensuring access to holistic healthcare services and promoting quality education for children with disabilities are essential steps.
    • Creating decent job opportunities with a focus on skill development and social integration is imperative. Improving infrastructure by increasing availability and access to assistive devices enhances mobility.
    • Collaborative efforts involving NGOs, government institutions, and private organizations, along with policy advocacy, will contribute to creating an inclusive and sustainable society for PWDs in India.

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