Structured Negotiation as a Boost for Disability Rights


06:41 PM

1 min read
Structured Negotiation as a Boost for Disability Rights Blog Image

Why in News?

  • Structured negotiation has emerged as a collaborative and solution-driven alternative to litigation in dispute resolution.
  • This technique has been increasingly adopted across various sectors and been useful in addressing disability rights cases in the United States.
  • Therefore, in the context of India's legal landscape too, it could be useful to explore the potential, the effectiveness, and successful applications of structured negotiation.

The Concept of Structured Negotiation

  • Stands Out for Its Collaborative Nature
    • In this mechanism, instead of adversaries locked in legal combat, the parties involved, including complainants and defaulting service providers, come together with the common goal of finding a mutually beneficial resolution.
    • This collaborative aspect fosters an environment conducive to understanding and addressing the concerns of all parties involved.
  • Emphasis on Compliance
    • A central feature of structured negotiation is the emphasis on compliance with social welfare legislations.
    • It seeks to persuade defaulting service providers to align with legal requirements and fulfil their obligations under disability rights or other relevant statutes.
    • The focus is on achieving compliance in a way that benefits both the service provider and the complainants seeking access to their offerings.
  • Offers a Win-Win Situation
    • One of the key strengths of structured negotiation lies in its ability to create a win-win situation.
    • Defaulting service providers, motivated by a desire to avoid the high costs and negative publicity associated with litigation, are incentivised to engage in collaborative problem-solving.
    • Simultaneously, complainants benefit by gaining access to services and products without the prolonged and often adversarial process of going to court.
  • Applicability Across Sectors
    • The utility of structured negotiation transcends various sectors, demonstrating its adaptability and effectiveness in resolving a diverse range of disputes.
    • However, its notable success has been particularly evident in disability rights cases in the United States, where it has played a significant role in ensuring compliance and fostering inclusivity.

Role of Legal Precedents and their Contribution to the Foundation of Structured Negotiation

  • Role of Courts in Setting Precedents
    • Central to the success of structured negotiation is the proactive role played by courts in setting legal precedents.
    • Courts act as key architects in defining what accessibility means within a given sector and what legal compliance entails.
    • Through judgments and decisions, courts establish a framework that serves as a reference point for subsequent structured negotiations, creating clarity and consistency in expectations.
  • Legal Precedents Provide Blueprint for Accessibility
    • By articulating the standards and requirements for compliance with social welfare legislations or disability rights laws, legal precedents lay the groundwork for subsequent negotiations.
    • These precedents become guiding documents that help both complainants and defaulting service providers understand the expectations and obligations, facilitating smoother and more effective discussions.
  • Create a Dialogue Platform:
    • Legal precedents serve as a starting point for dialogue between complainants and service providers.
    • These precedents articulate the legal standards, and structured negotiation takes these standards as a reference to address specific grievances.
    • The dialogue facilitated by structured negotiation, informed by established legal norms, becomes a dynamic and adaptable process where parties can collaboratively work towards achieving compliance in a manner aligned with legal expectations.

Successful Applications of Structured Negotiation

  • Structured negotiation has proven successful in addressing various issues, including inaccessible automated teller machines, point of sale devices, pedestrian signals, and service provider websites.
  • Major corporations like Walmart, CVS, and Caremark have embraced accessible prescription bottles for blind or low-vision customers.
  • It has also driven institutional reform by facilitating accessible voting machines and websites.

Challenges in India’s Legal Landscape

  • Pendency and Paperwork in Civil Courts
    • One of the primary challenges lies in the mounting pendency and bureaucratic intricacies within Indian civil courts.
    • The tiring legal processes and paperwork discourage parties from opting for traditional dispute resolution methods, making it imperative to explore alternative approaches like structured negotiation.
    • Moreover, the sluggish pace of the legal system can be a deterrent, emphasising the need for more efficient and expeditious resolution mechanisms.
  • Limitations of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
    • India's flagship legislation, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, establishes a framework for addressing non-compliance with provisions related to accessibility.
    • The Act empowers the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) to intervene by issuing notices and directing defaulting service providers to make their services accessible.
    • However, the actual impact of this mechanism in repairing accessibility barriers remains uncertain.
  • Questionable Efficacy of Designated Bodies
    • The creation of designated bodies, such as the CCPD, is a positive step towards addressing disability rights issues.
    • Nevertheless, their effectiveness in ensuring accessibility and compliance raises questions.
    • For instance, the recent directive to Paytm to make its digital payment applications accessible resulted in unintended consequences and it became even more inaccessible.
    • It highlights the challenges of achieving real-time accessibility without vigilant oversight and user input.

Steps to Be Considered for the Success of Structured Negotiation in India

  • Prioritising Accessibility
    • The success of structured negotiation in India depends on the level of priority that service providers afford to the struggles of persons with disabilities.
    • Businesses must recognise the benefits of catering to this demographic (Persons with Disabilities), not just from a legal compliance standpoint but also in acknowledging their significant buying capacity.
  • Establishment of a Strong Body to Set Excellent Legal Precedents
    • While structured negotiation operates outside the courtroom, its success is intricately tied to the establishment of a strong body of disabled-friendly legal precedents.
    • Courts play a crucial role in setting the groundwork by defining what accessibility and compliance with the law entail within specific sectors.
    • These legal precedents serve as a foundation for structured negotiation, providing a clear framework for discussions and resolutions.
  • Real-Time Solutions and Constant Vigilance
    • The Paytm incident underscores the dynamic nature of making digital services accessible for persons with disabilities in real time.
    • It necessitates constant vigilance and user inputs to validate the efficacy of solutions.
    • Traditional legal mechanisms may struggle to keep pace with the rapidly evolving landscape of digital services, emphasising the need for more adaptive and responsive approaches like structured negotiation.


  • India's legal landscape poses challenges such as court pendency, bureaucratic hurdles, and uncertainties regarding the efficacy of designated bodies in enforcing accessibility.
  • While structured negotiation can be a potential solution, its successful implementation depends on overcoming these challenges and fostering a culture that prioritises the immediate needs of persons with disabilities while maintaining a commitment to legal compliance.

Q1) How does Structured Negotiation differ from traditional litigation?

In traditional litigation, parties engage in an adversarial process, often in a courtroom, where a judge or jury decides the outcome. Structured Negotiation, on the other hand, emphasises collaboration and open communication. It allows parties to work together outside of the courtroom, fostering a more flexible and creative approach to problem-solving. This method is particularly effective in resolving disputes related to accessibility, civil rights, and other areas where a cooperative resolution is preferable to a confrontational legal battle.

Q2) What is The Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016?

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 is an important legislation in India aimed at safeguarding the rights and ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilities. It was enacted to replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. The Act recognises a broader spectrum of disabilities, including physical, intellectual, mental, and sensory impairments. It covers conditions such as blindness, low vision, deafness, intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and multiple disabilities. The Act ensures that persons with disabilities have equal rights and opportunities in various aspects of life, including education, employment, health, and social participation. It prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability.

Source: The Hindu