The biometric process is often an ordeal for children with disabilities

The countdown has begun for Aryan (name changed) to step into his first job in August, but he is more frustrated than excited. The 21-year-old is required to submit his Aadhaar details to his firm, but does not have the card yet, despite having made two attempts since January. His ‘fault’? He has a physical disability that prevents him from having all his fingerprints captured by the system.

His mother was furious. “My son’s left hand is too rigid and he is not able to present his left thumb impression. The first time we went and got this done was in January, but the tracking system said his application had been rejected. We tried in a different centre in March and the staff there said an exception can be made.

But it was rejected the second time too,” she said.

Their ordeal did not end there.

They first tried calling the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) office in Bengaluru, but were offered no help.

“We then wrote to their online grievance system and even to the Prime Minister’s Office, but we were guided back to the Bengaluru office from where we had already got disappointing responses. No one is able to guide us as to what should be done, and we are running out of time,” she said.

Not an one-off case

Aryan’s may not be an one-off case. UIDAI officials said such enquiries were common. Similar cases have been reported from other parts of the country as well. In fact, owing to problems faced by parents of children with disabilities during the enrolment process, the Spastics Society of Karnataka conducted an Aadhaar camp with the UIDAI a few months ago at the centre.

“We covered around 150 children who did not have Aadhaar card. The whole idea was to provide the service at the doorstep. There are several issues when it comes to the enrolment process. Access to the centres is difficult and there are problems when it comes to the biometric process. Children with autism, for example, need time to adjust to the settings and to cooperate. For those with spasticity, it comes into play during the process,” Priya Rao, Associate Director, Spastics Society of Karnataka, said.

Hinting at the possibility of a similar camp soon, she also emphasised on the need to train personnel deployed to carry out the enrolment process in handling persons with disabilities.

Provisions available

However, officials added that there were provisions to make Aadhaar enrolment easier for persons with disabilities.

“There are two kinds of enrolment: regular and biometric exception. During the process of capturing data, a biometric exception can be made. Instead, a photo with both hands is used in such cases. There is also doorstep service available,” officials added.