Disability rights activist Javed Abidi died at the age of 53 on Sunday. He had been unwell and initial reports suggest that he succumbed to a chest infection. He is survived by his mother, younger brother and younger sister.
Abidi was the Director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, which he set up in 1996. He was also the global chair of Disabled Peoples’ International, a world body with special consultative status to the United Nations, and convenor of the National Disability Network, India.
He was one of the first activists of a cross-disability movement in India, encouraging people with different disabilities to come together to work on common problems. He founded the Disabled Rights Group in 1993 to work specifically on cross-disability issues of access and inclusion.
One of the most prominent voices on disability in India, Abidi strongly advocated the tenet of ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’, for the disabled sector. He was instrumental in the revamping India’s disability laws into the progressive Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act that was passed by parliament in December 2016. The new law expands the definition of disability and the bill confers several rights to disabled people including access to public buildings, hospitals, transport and polling stations as well as benefits such as reservations in education and employment to disabled persons.