Dr Satendra Singh is a medical doctor at the University College of Medical Sciences and Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Delhi. A physiologist by profession, he contracted poliomyelitis at the age of 9 months but went on to complete Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and later on Doctor of Medicine in Physiology. He has also done the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) fellowship. He is a noted disability activist especially for his sustained efforts in making public places accessible for disabled persons.
Unlocked Central posts for doctors with disability
The disabled fighter fought not only for his but other disabled doctor’s rights. He also brought into open the discrimination by UPSC which disallowed doctors with disability to apply for various Central Health Services (CHS) posts. He himself was rejected in 2011 but fought and was later allowed to appear for the interview. In 2013, his application was again rejected when he highlighted that the same discrimination was also present for the other posts. He was allowed to apply in a quick intervention. His RTI revealed that doctors with disabilities are not considered eligible for specialist CHS posts in teaching, non-teaching as well as public health specialist cadres. Undeterred, he complained again and requested the health ministry to allow all eligible doctors with disability to apply for these posts. His single handed relentless fight for justice over four years ultimately forced Health Ministry to unlock 1,674 specialist central posts for disabled doctors.
Accessibility of all the medical institutions in India
On his petition the Court of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India instructed Medical Council of India to issue directives to all the medical institutions in India to be disabled-friendly. Despite these efforts, most medical institutions have yet to comply with the directions. His black armband protest on the United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 led authorities to construct ramps outside all the hostels at his medical college.
Disabled friendly polling booths
He played an integral role of whistleblower to raise the issue of problems faced by voters with disability before and during the Delhi legislative assembly elections, 2013 through Right to Information. He also wrote to the election commission as well as the Chief Justice of India to allow disabled voters to vote again before declaration of final results. His RTI on fourth National Voters' Day revealed how Election Commission of India was caught unprepared to enfranchise electors with disability. It showed violation of Supreme Court orders of 2004 to empower voters with disabilities. After the expose Chief Electoral Office, Delhi involved him in making elections in Delhi disabled-friendly. Not only did he sensitise the election officers on how to help electors with disability but he also helped in setting up a disability registration helpline. His sustained efforts led to making election booths across the capital accessible to disabled and elderly voters. Further, on his petition the disability court warned the Election Commission of India to make its website disabled friendly.
Withdrawal of Union Public Service Commission and Indian Institutes of Technology Joint Entrance Examinations ‘discriminatory proforma’
Dr Singh challenged Union Public Service Commission’s format whereby disabled applicants were asked to paste photographs showing their disability as a proof. The Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities directed the UPSC to refrain from asking disabled candidates to submit photographs showing their disabilities and to consider the ‘permanent disability certificate’ issued from a government hospital as a valid proof. His advocacy led to the withdrawal of similar prOforma by IITJEE
Disabled-friendly websites of Delhi Government hospitals
His judicial activism led to the web accessibility of all the hospitals under Government of Delhi.
Policy change in duty concession for drivers with disability Central Government provides excise duty concession to disabled customers however Maruti Suzuki denied him the concession on the pretext of right leg disability which was not only discriminatory but illegal. His relentless fight led the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises to amend the rules and quashing manufacturer's certificate and allowing RTO's certificate only.
Dignified screening of people with disabilities at airports
After being harassed by security personnel at the Hyderabad airport because of his orthosis, Dr Singh approached Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to amend rustic screening procedures and modify guidelines taking Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into consideration. The disability watchdog has directed both DGCA and BCAS to make sure people with disabilities are not being harassed or humiliated at airports and that security personnel have been sensitized towards them.
Corrected wrong celebration of Salk's birthday on World Polio Day
Rotary International established World Polio Day (24 October) to commemorate the birthday of virologist Jonas Salk who developed polio vaccine. This erroneous observance was first challenged by Dr Singh in his publication in the official journal of the Edward Jenner Society's Vaccine (journal). Even Google dedicated a doodle on Salk's 100th birthday to confirm 28 October as his birthday. Rotary still celebrates the day on 24 October despite media reporting on the contrary.
His sustained advocacy also lead to ramps being constructed at ATMs. He also raised awareness by highlighting inaccessible ATMs and post offices in the capital to persons with disabilities through Right to Information Act.
Singh is the Coordinator of the Enabling Unit for persons with disabilities and founder of Infinite Ability, a medical humanities group on disability. These are the first such bodies in any medical college in India. He organised the first ever Theatre of the Oppressed workshop for medical students in India. He was also instrumental in organising a unique 'Blind with Camera' workshop for the visually impaired and blind students of University of Delhi in 2012 with Partho Bhowmick.
He is the recipient of State Award by the Government of Delhi for exceptional achievement by a person with disability in the field of social work in 2016. He was also awarded the NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards 2013 for promoting accessibility and ensuring life of equality and dignity for persons with disabilities.