Over 200 Kenyan officials take part in Svayam-NCPWD’s 2nd ‘Basic Access Auditor' Training Course in Nairobi; India’s High Commission lauds Svayam for adding ‘Accessibility’ in India-Kenya relationship

Nairobi | 22 Nov 2019

After an overwhelming response of the first ‘Basic Access Auditor’ training course (held in Nairobi in June 2019), Svayam organized its 2nd ‘Basic Access Auditor’ training course in Nairobi, during 19-21 November 2019. The training course was held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Nairobi, and is a part of the Phase One of the ‘Accessible Kenya Mission’ (AKM) launched by Svayam in partnership with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), Govt. of Kenya.

Certificate of participation giving ceremony
Hon’ble Mohammed Hussein Gabbow, Executive Director, NCPWD (Extreme Right) & Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Director, Svayam, (Second from Right) giving away ‘Certificate of participation’

AKM is aimed at bringing a large section of Kenyan society to the mainstream life and economic activities by raising awareness on accessibility of public infrastructure and transportation systems, among key stakeholders.

During their visit, the Svayam Team also had a meeting with India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr. Ashish Kumar Sinha, & they discussed larger inclusion of accessibility in India-Kenya relationship.

Hon’ble Mohammed Hussein Gabbow, Executive Director, NCPWD, commented: “It is indeed a great honour that Svayam and the National Council have joined hands to start up ‘Accessible Kenya Mission’. To make accessibility non-negotiable, NCPWD has now made it mandatory for all public servants as well as disability mainstreaming departments to undergo this Accessibility Awareness Training course and contribute towards our shared goal of accessible, inclusive Kenya & achieve a quality of life for our children, women, seniors, elderly and people with disabilities.”

Participants at the 'Basic Access Auditor' Training Course in Nairobi, Kenya
Participants at the ‘Basic Access Auditor’ Training Course in Nairobi, Kenya

Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Director, Svayam, added: “Knowledge sharing is key to realize the dream of an inclusive world. We are happy to share our organization’s expertise through ‘Accessible Kenya Mission’, and thank NCPWD-Kenya for partnering with us towards making Kenya accessible for all. Accessibility is a human right issue and this mission will generate awareness in Kenya while contributing in capacity building.”   

Photo of Kenya visit - Svayam team with India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr. Ashish Kumar Sinha
India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr. Ashish Kumar Sinha (Second from Left) with Savaym Team

The training attracted participants from different counties and departments including the National Construction Authority, Kenya Port Authority, National Council for Population and Development, National Councils from different disabilities, National Registration Board, Ministry of Labour Protection as well as various national and international agencies including Motivation, Humanity & Inclusion (HI), Open Institute, InABLE, etc.

The entire training program was designed in a way so as to improve the skills of the participants on identifying barriers and important aspects of accessibility for achieving the objective of an inclusive society. The activities included lectures, practical demonstrations, simulation exercises, discussions, and site excursions. This unique training course was based on ISO 21542 (approved standard by Govt. of Kenya).

After successful completion of training, assessment was conducted to evaluate the skills of the participants and ‘Certificates of Participation’ were given to all the participants, and a total of 53 candidates qualified to become ‘Basic Access Auditors’.

Posted in Access Workshop, Accessibility in public infrastructure, Accessible Cities, Accessible Kenya Mission | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delhi Court issues landmark ‘ORDER’ to ensure accessibility at religious places for persons with disabilities as per “Guidelines for Making Religious Places Accessible” authored by Svayam

New Delhi, 16 October 2019, Wednesday

While on 16th October, 2019, the Supreme Court completed the hearings on the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid Case and reserved its verdict, another landmark Order on access to religious places for persons with disabilities issue was passed by the Court of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) Delhi, on the same day. The Court ordered all religious places in Delhi to incorporate accessibility in time bound manner, to ensure inclusive worship for all, including devotees with disabilities and elderly.  

Cover page of 'Guidelines for Making Religious Places Accessible'
Cover Page of ‘Guidelines for Making Religious Places Accessible’ authored by Svayam and published in partnership with the CCPD, MSJE, GOI

In view of the mandatory provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016, the Court, in July 2017, took suo motu cognizance of inaccessible built environment at religious places in Delhi and issued notices to all District Magistrates seeking information. None of the respondents submitted the sought information and action plan in respect of the places of worship apparently because most of these belonged to private establishments/trusts. 

In May 2018, all the respondents (11 District Magistrates of Govt. of NCT of Delhi) were advised to take appropriate action to make the places of worship in their districts accessible for persons with disabilities to ensure that they are also able to enjoy their right to worship on equal basis with others.  They were also requested to obtain information from the concerned authority/ organization and an action plan with timelines to make each place of worship accessible and to send a consolidated list to the Court by 4th July 2018.

Following no response from the concerned District Magistrates except DM, South East and DM, North-East despite reminders, suo-motu cases were registered.

It is pertinent to note here that the Hon’ble State Commissioner Sh. T.D. Dhariyal, himself visited several religious sites in Delhi across faiths and found none of them accessible.

Some District Magistrates had submitted Police Station-wise information, while others gave sub-division-wise information and District Disaster Management Authority-wise.  However, the Hon’ble court in its order appreciated the action taken report by District Magistrate (West), Ms. Neha Bansal who submitted physical verification of 202 places of worship while also setting 31.03.2020 as the target date for making rest of the places of worship accessible. 

Read the full article here.

For the Court’s ORDER, click here.

To download the ‘Guidelines for Making religious Places Accessible’, click here.

Posted in Access audit of community infrastructure, Accessibility in public infrastructure, barrier free public buildings, Delhi, Discrimination on grounds of disabilities, Svayam, Svayam India, Svayam Press Releases | Leave a comment

Medical Tourism in India: Affordable, but is it Accessible to All?

Dear Colleagues,

Happy to share a thought provoking author article from one of our young volunteers, Anav Batra, published in TravelBiz Monitor magazine in October 2019 issue. Happy reading!

Anav Batra, Volunteer, Svayam

New Delhi | 04 October 2019

By Anav Batra

The world has celebrated the World Tourism Day on 27th September with much gusto. Different focused activities took place across the world to promote tourism. This year (2019) the Tourism Day got more prominence, as India was chosen as a host country for the official celebrations of United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) World Tourism Day in New Delhi. Also, the nationwide ‘Paryatan Parv 2019’ kicked off on 2 Oct. 2019 (Gandhi Ji’s 150th birth anniversary) will continue till 13th October 2019 with an aim to propagate the message of ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ to encourage people to visit tourist destinations of the country and spread the message of Tourism for All.    

While several events were organized to promote tourism in the country and showcase India as a great tourist destination which it is, one thing that somehow got missed is the crucial part of tourism i.e. medical tourism. Its enormous potentials and ability to contribute to the national GDP and create employment opportunities need to be emphasized.    

India, a global hub for medical tourists, attracts colossal amounts of patients from around the world. In 2017, over 4.95 lakh (495,000) patients had come for treatment in India, while it was 2.34 lakh (234,000) foreign tourists who came for treatment related reasons in the year 2015. With the rise of medical tourists, comes significant revenue for the medical industry.  KJ Alphons, Former Union Minister of State for Culture, and Tourism, while replying to a question in parliament, had also shared that India had generated an estimated revenue of ₹1,77,874 crore in 2017 alone from foreign exchange. The meteoric rise has resulted in India’s medical tourism industry to be worth a staggering $9 billion dollars by 2020, roughly equivalent to 20% of the global market share.

The question here is, why has India become the medical tourism mammoth that it is? India has a rare mix of affordability, effective and superior clinical outcomes, up-to-date facilities, and a large variety of medical services offered to patients. For example, a heart bypass procedure costs a mere $5,200 in India, as compared to the enormous $144,000 that it costs in the USA. For those who are from lesser-developed nations, India provides a tempting choice for patients. It’s cost-effective, reliable, and accurate. India provides patients from all nations with world class medical services, which cannot be found back at home, at price levels that are staggeringly low from the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. To add on, this concept can also be highly beneficial to patients from first-world countries. These patients may be looking for similar treatment care, for a lower cost, and India provides the perfect solution, right?  Despite all the strengths described above, Medical Tourism in India, however, is losing many medical tourists to nationals like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand for variety of reasons. If we look at the data of medical tourism inflow, Bangladesh tops the list while other countries include Maldives, Afghanistan, East African nations. There is no significant number from the first world countries.

To read full article…… visit the source link of TraveBiz Monitor here. or to read the article in PDF click here.

Posted in Accessibility Guidelines, Accessibility in public infrastructure, Accessible Cities, Accessible Healthcare, Accessible Hospitals, Accessible India Campaign, Accessible Toilets, Accessible Tourism, Accessible Tourism, Accessible Transport, accessible travel and tourism, Inclusive Tourism, Medical Tourism, Sminu Jindal, Svayam, Svayam India | Leave a comment

How the corporate world can strive for real diversity and inclusivity at the workplace

By Ms. Sminu Jindal

01 July 2019 | New Delhi

(This article appeared in The Mint, Delhi Edition on 01 July 2019)

I was 21 when I was assigned to revive one of our plants. This was my first uphill battle—I realized how gendered these spaces were as I experienced them first-hand. The matter becomes even more complex when leadership is from a wheelchair. People’s traditional perception of leadership was challenged—this led to daily obstacles with management, which led to some of the senior leaders constantly testing my decision-making. Such incidents made me learn about the relationship between equal opportunity and accessibility.

It was experiences such as these that led me to start Svayam in 2000, with a singular mission: Dignity for all. This quest made me discover some of the most courageous people who have created a life for themselves and others despite the challenges of limited mobility.

Samuel Mani is an exceptional example of how individuals with disabilities can live incredible lives. Many people, including his parents, believed that he would never be able to survive in the real world independently as he had cerebral palsy. When he wanted to work in a multinational, he was told that his wheelchair would “dirty the floor” and he had to walk to work. He refused to give up his passion for his profession and founded ‘Neutron Computers’. Today, it is one of South Asia’s few Microsoft-authorized sellers of refurbished computers.

Another example is Meenu, who uses a wheelchair and could not go to college as public transport in Delhi was not accessible to her. She had to sign up for correspondence courses. Her strength of character enabled her to set up a non-governmental organization, ‘Yes! We Can’, five years ago to enable persons with disabilities.

My life experiences have taught me a few things: Humans largely live by their perceptions, so people form their opinions of me just by looking at my wheelchair. This bias towards people with reduced mobility pervades the globe. People with reduced mobility are constantly underestimated and diminished. It happens in all sections of society and in every nation. It should not be forgotten that all Indians shape our growing economy and contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP).

The elderly in our communities have been a vibrant part of our economy throughout their lives by working and paying taxes. We cannot reduce the joys of their lives in their golden age by making them home-bound.

The issue of accessibility includes people with injuries, elderly, pregnant women and people with disabilities. All of us face issues of accessibility in our lifetime, when our opportunities are reduced by temporary or permanent impairment. We cannot deny people in such circumstances human contact, which is the greatest comfort for any person. In India, the lack of accessible public infrastructure cages countless of such individuals in their homes, depriving the world of their talents and contributions.

Times are changing. Information communication has transformed drastically, and Indian companies are making it a point to be more inclusive. The composition of boardrooms has evolved since diversity became a key priority on the agendas of corporations striving for growth. Women have started to appear in influential positions and bring in a new style of leadership that necessitates sincere consensus. However, the corporate ecosystem also needs to create a more conducive environment for people with reduced mobility to be a primary part of the boardroom’s composition as well. Simple acts like ensuring that the job selection process is inclusive of candidates with disabilities by offering assistive technology on the website, can go a long way. Steps need to be taken to make a workplace accessible to all.

Further, public transport and infrastructure need to be inclusive to enable people with reduced mobility such as pregnant women, elderly as well as those with disabilities to travel with ease.

Installing ramps requires capital, which can suddenly turn scarce, even when more general expenditures, for example air-conditioning, are easily sanctioned. It is not people who are disabled, it is the environment which makes them disabled.

When people with reduced mobility are given the same skills to succeed as the rest of the population, they too can start successful businesses and empower others, giving back to society. With inclusive infrastructure, everyone can study, step out, work and explore opportunities. Equal opportunity can only exist with accessibility.


Posted in Access Workshop, Accessibility in public infrastructure, Discrimination on grounds of disabilities, Entrepreneurs, YahanSeWahanTak | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kenya gets its first fleet of ‘Access Auditors’ as Svayam & NCPWD gear up for ‘Accessible Kenya Mission’

Nairobi | 28 June 2019

Kenya got its first ever fleet of 25 Access Auditors, as Svayam, in collaboration with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), Govt. of Kenya, organized a five-day ‘Basic Access Auditor’ training course in Nairobi during 24-28 June 2019. The training course was a part of the Phase One of the ‘Accessible Kenya Mission’ (a joint initiative of Svayam & NCPWD) which is aimed at bringing a large section of Kenyan society to the mainstream life and economic activities by raising awareness on accessibility of public infrastructure and transportation systems, among key stakeholders.

Image of Course Participants posing for a photo with Mr. Peter Muchiri, the Chair, Board of Directors, NCPWD, Kenya (in wheelchair) & Svayam Team
Course Participants pose for a photo with Mr. Peter Muchiri, the Chair, Board of Directors, NCPWD, Kenya (in wheelchair) & Svayam Team

As Kenya is aspiring to provide more inclusive and friendly built environment to people of all ages and abilities, need of professionals who have an expertise on the specific needs of people with disabilities is growing. Traditional courses in rehabilitation, medical and para-medical, civil engineering, design, architecture, special education etc. do not exhaustively cover the subject well. The NCPWD has a mandate to issue adjustment orders to ensure accessibility in existing buildings; however, there is shortage of trained hands that can conduct access audits of built environments & services and provide recommendations to improve accessibility. Svayam has stepped in to fill this gap.

image of candidates taking their exam at the end of the training.
Participants taking the examination

The launch ceremony of the ‘Basic Access Auditor Training Course’ saw the presence of Hon’ble Peter Muchiri, the Chair of Board of Directors, NCPWD, Hon’ble Mohammed Hussein Gabbow, Executive Director, NCPWD, and Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Director, Svayam, among other dignitaries and guests from various government departments and NGOs.   

In his opening comments during the launch ceremony, Hon’ble Gabbow said: “I on behalf of my Government and all Kenyan citizens congratulate and thank Svayam and its Founder Ms. Sminu Jindal, for partnering with NCPWD to promote accessibility and inclusion through our joint initiative ‘Accessible Kenya Mission’. It is indeed a great opportunity for all of us to be part of this mission and work on raising awareness and bringing a much needed change that would benefit everyone and help in achieving the dream of inclusion, equality and social justice through accessibility. I am sure this will change our landscape and bring economic empowerment of fellow Kenyans with disabilities.”

Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Director, Svayam, who led the training, added: “The partnership between Svayam and the NCPWD is aimed at promoting accessibility in public infrastructure of Kenya to make mobility and transportation more inclusive and to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), several of them are linked to accessibility.  As part of this collaboration, Svayam will contribute in capacity building of stakeholders through training courses and facilitate the strategies for achieving accessibility in built environment, public transportation and services in Kenya.”

Mr. Vashishth added, “To this end, Svayam is currently conducting this training program on Accessibility leading to certification of the first batch of Access Auditors. Applicants for the batch have been selected from the social development sector as well as public officials who are engaged in creating, managing or monitoring the public infrastructure as a part of their job.”

The response to the call for applications was overwhelming as numerous applications were received from Kenyan nationals. This unique crash course is based on ISO 21542 (approved standard by Govt. of Kenya). The training course was held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Nairobi.

image of Course topper Ms.  Shirkirah Wanjiku Mwangi, receiving her certificate from Hon'ble Gabbow, CEO of NCPWD
Course topper Ms. Shirkirah Wanjiku Mwangi, from National construction Authority Kenya receiving her certificate from Hon’ble Gabbow, CEO, NCPWD, Kenya

The training days were long, involving course work, assessments and field visits. A total of 25 candidates successfully completed the course and will be on probation conducting access audit of at least 10 buildings identified by the NCPWD and submit reports for evaluation. On successful completion, their name will be entered in the ‘National Register of Access Auditors’ as a part of the ‘Accessible Kenya Mission’.

Image of a successful candidate with disability receiving her certificate from Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Director, Svayam
Several candidates passing the course were persons with disabilities

The National Council will share the access audit reports so prepared with the concerned departments/ministries for action in a time bound manner, post which adjustment orders will be issued by the Council.

The next training in the series for Kenya’s public officials, is scheduled to be conducted during 24 Sep 2019- 26 Sep 2019. For details visit here.

Posted in Access audit of community infrastructure, Access Audits, Accessibility in public infrastructure, Accessible Kenya Mission, barrier free public buildings, Ms. Sminu Jindal, Persons with Disabilities, Sminu Jindal, Svayam Events, Svayam India, Svayam Press Releases | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Focus on accessibility in colleges for a better tomorrow

By Ms. Sminu Jindal

29th May 2019 | New Delhi

(This article appeared in Hindustan Times, Delhi Edition on 29th May 2019)

Accessibility means uninterrupted mobility for all of us to reach our fullest potential. People with reduced mobility, permanent or temporary disabilities, like pregnant women, senior citizens and children have the right to inclusive and accessible environments in all aspects of life. Accessibility facilitates empowerment of the people; this is done through holistic, inclusive and accessible education for all. However, this has yet to be a reality. People with reduced mobility still have to choose between their right to education and their need for an accessible environment.

There are many stories that incite the need for action like Sonia Tripathi’s story, a tale of a father’s devotion to his daughter to support her throughout her education, even by carrying her up to the third floor of her college building so that she can give her BA exams. It is one of the millions of untold stories of people with reduced mobility that illustrate the need for a barely existing inclusivity and accessibility in our education system.

Of the 150 higher educational institutes existing in India, students with disabilities constitute a mere 0.56% of them. Dropout rates are higher for students with reduced mobility than the rates for their admission. It is natural to ask the question: why individuals with reduced mobility do not attend colleges or pursue higher education at all? Why, despite the existence of so many unoccupied seats, students with reduced mobility do not get the opportunity to a college education? There is no single reason why people with various challenges do not have a ‘go-getter’ attitude when it comes to college education. Everyone is not able to connect with the emotional turmoil experienced by a person with reduced mobility. Thus, this problem has emerged and gained prominence.

In the capital region of the country Delhi University has about 50-55K seats in Undergraduate courses. The reserved seats earlier were around 1500 and disabled admission seekers range from 700 to 1000 only. With the new Act the reservation has gone up from 3% to 5% hence the seats reserved are about 2500 now for DU U/G course. Other than this IP University, Ambedkar University, Delhi Technological University (DTU), National Law University, Medical colleges, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and many other professional institutions have a large intake of students. Currently the disability quota is 5%, as mandated by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016.

As per reports, thirty-two of India’s top universities and institutions of higher learning, including IITs, IIMs, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University, together fill up barely 16% of the minimum quota for people with disabilities. 84% seats under disability quota remain unfilled in the top universities.

At present, most colleges in India get infrastructural audits done, but completely accessible college campuses remain a challenge. While they recognize and incorporate provisions for people with reduced mobility, the extent is usually narrowed down to certain forms of physical challenges among some individuals. Basic facilities like accessible transportation to and from college, in-campus accommodations and an accessible infrastructure, with wide doors, elevators, ramps, and properly equipped toilets to enable uninterrupted mobility and educational pursuit need to more extensively built.

Yet, accessibility goes beyond the transportation and infrastructural provisions; the role played by limiting beliefs around reduced mobility is a major aspect that needs to be looked at. Reduced mobility is perceived to disempower and dampen the potential of an individual. For them to have ‘equal opportunity’ and ‘the right to inclusive and accessible education,’ they must put in extra efforts, make sacrifices and prove their resilience. The onus of overcoming the hurdles to achieve equal opportunities should never be on the person with reduced mobility, it is a community-wide problem. Reduced mobility is indefinitely a challenge; yet, who does not face obstacles in their lives? Inclusive provisions and beliefs in a diverse society like ours means ensuring we all have the tools to overcome our own unique battles in our journeys.

Such conversations shed light on forgotten challenges that parts of our society have, are and will continue to face until steps are taken to properly address this debilitating issue our society and economy faces, as able and willing talent is lost every time a child drops out of school. Accessible and inclusive education for all is what we all deserve, irrespective of our mobility status. These large-scale, trans-media conversations break myths on reduced mobility to establish clearly the needs of accessible transportation and infrastructure for equal and inclusive opportunities that will lead to a better tomorrow.

Making educational institutes an inclusive and barrier-free learning space is quintessential for accessibility, which is what Svayam is working on since 2000. By spreading awareness, especially among the youth, through its digital media campaign #YahanSeWahanTak, it facilitates conversations on challenges like #GharSeCollegeTak, personal narratives of youth on the lack of accessible infrastructure and limiting beliefs they faced in higher education.

Graphic image of the Newspaper Article above

Posted in Access Audits, Accessibility Guidelines, Accessible Education, Accessible India Campaign, Accessible Toilets, Accessible Transport, Barrier Free, barrier free public buildings, Delhi University, Ms. Sminu Jindal, Svayam, Svayam Press Releases, YahanSeWahanTak, Young Indians | Leave a comment

Inclusive Education will lead to an inclusive world

an image of Ms. Sminu Jindal Founder & Chairperson, Svayam

Ms. Sminu Jindal, Founder & Chairperson, Svayam

If we are taught from a very young age to understand that disability is not a disease and that it can occur to anyone, then schools, communities and workplaces would become much more inclusive, which can help alter the realities of nations. Broken down to its core, this ‘social divide’ speaks of a fear of differences. Children who grow in diverse communities, which include people with disabilities, playing an active role, will create a society of tomorrow which recognizes that, at heart, we are all the same- human beings with needs, hopes, and dreams.

Data Speaks
According to the World Bank, in India, 1 out of 12 households has a person with disability. Today 65% population of our country is below 35 years of age. Imagine 30 years from now when India will have a substantial percentage of elderly population. With such a prevalence of people with reduced mobility in the country, the need for an inclusive environment cannot be swept aside. Also, as per the 2011 census, 45% of India’s disabled population is illiterate. Such astonishing numbers not only impact the lives of these children but the future of our nation is adversely affected as well. Hence, the education system needs to be made inclusive for all children with special needs, so that they can be an active and contributing part of our society that does it proud.

Breaking Attitudinal Barriers
Here, I am not just talking about accessible infrastructure but a paradigm shift in the attitudes of the people, starting with the kindergartner to the teacher in educational institutions. Generally, schools refrain from taking in students with disabilities because of the stigma attached to it. This has to change; for this, children need to be sensitized towards their schoolmates with disabilities. Educators need to be properly trained to nurture children with disabilities alongside their non-disabled peers in the same classroom. Inclusivity in education not only helps to work towards these goals but to also grow a smart and empathetic generation of tomorrow that breaks down the barriers of differences and start celebrating differences instead of ignoring or staying away..

Often, you will notice a child with disability staying apart from classmates or not taking part in regular school activities as other children tend to refrain from playing with children with disabilities because they lack the understanding that there is no difference in spirit between those who have no disabilities and those who have.. The school environment needs to be welcoming to all students and not make certain individuals feel abnormal. Studying in a regular school not only helped me mingle with other students but also helped them to be able to see me beyond my wheelchair. Our educational books should also include a chapter on civil rights of people with disabilities and it should be taught in the schools, so that students with disabilities may know their rights; it will also help other students in accepting children with disabilities as ‘equals’, and not as ‘different’.

Later, when we enter universities, students with disabilities are often reduced to doing courses online; but can bookish knowledge really replace real-life experiences? The internet is a useful tool but it does not replace real-life interactions needed to experience life fully and important moments that shape youth and sharpen their skills.

Accessibility boosts Economy 
We all together inevitably shape our economy for the better through our daily activities like education, sports, tourism, transport and employment. The economy is not just about job opportunity, but we also need to see how indirectly it affects the income generation. Therefore, it is of absolute urgency that people are not left out from these important aspects of life due to their disabilities or reduced mobility.

It does not take much to make a workplace inclusive if people, despite their challenges, choose to step out and work. Every building should have lifts, ramps and accessible washrooms, so that people with reduced mobility can enjoy uninterrupted mobility. It all starts with the basics; public transport and infrastructure should be accessible to allow people with reduced mobility to access buildings and travel with ease.

Accessible workplaces help all staff
I feel it’s not the people who are disabled; it is the environment which makes them disabled. Accessible infrastructure helps everyone. People with reduced mobility should not be treated as different or inadequate and they should not be made to feel that they are a burden, or an extra responsibility. They should be the proud contributing members of our society to the nation’s GDP. In fact, making workplaces accessible allows all employees to take fewer leaves in case of injuries, sicknesses, and pregnancy etc and their recuperating time will not remain unproductive. Elderly with reduced mobility who are forced to sit at home can also join organizations/schools and contribute their vast wisdom/experiences in nation building and to simply keep them active, if buildings and transportation are accessible.

Accessibility & Entrepreneurship
As the Chairperson of ARUNIM – Association for Rehabilitation under the National Trust Initiative in Marketing, I had worked towards economic empowerment of persons with disabilities and successfully created 6 entrepreneurs, who are today creating their own income and supporting their families. In this growing economy, where India is one of the few countries with considerable growth story, start-ups represent a wonderful opportunity for all. When persons with disabilities are given the same tools to success as the rest of the population, they can too start successful businesses through their holistic education and their own lived and professional experiences. Samuel Mani is a wonderful example of how people are not ready to settle down with less. He has cerebral palsy and had the zest to work, but he was told that he could only work if he came walking. This experience did not stop him, and today he is an inspiring entrepreneur.

New India, Inclusive India
I have met people whose family members consider them as an added responsibility, as they need to arrange additional support for their transportation, or because they are unemployed which very often results from a lack of accessibility in the public transport and infrastructure. We need to understand that an elderly person is also adding to the economy by paying for the conveyance from going from point A to point B, thus inevitably giving back to the economy. It is exactly why things are man-made; so that it helps, assists, and allows them to make changes in transport and infrastructure. Infrastructure is made for the people; hence why change people, let’s change the infrastructure itself if it is not helping all to access places. The new, stronger India that is being designed by people has to be inclusive.

Experiences make you powerful, and what happens when you get out. Abilities or disabilities, we all need exposure to thrive and discover the purpose of our lives. We need to first look at the education system, then businesses, and the workplace environment to transform the current thought surrounding disabilities, reduced mobility and accessibility.

The way forward
The more the infrastructure is enabling, more people can go out, which translates into more employment, more tourism, park visits, museums outings. We have to break the myth with the help of accessibility that older people do not spend. Accessible infrastructure will give the opportunity to all to earn their livelihood with full gusto, increasing the disposable income of households; this will help not only boosting the country’s GDP but also family’s happiness quotient.

The time has come when our leaders and management in schools, workplaces and communities alike shed their biases and make people with reduced mobility and those with disabilities a part of the growing economy that promises so much. With enabling infrastructure, you can study, step out, work and explore opportunities like anyone else. . We have to remember that in this world, everyone has their own role to play. So, let no barriers stop them.

  – Authored by Ms. Sminu Jindal

Posted in Accessibility in public infrastructure, Accessible Cities, Accessible Education, Accessible Pools, Accessible Schools, Accessible Toilets, Accessible Transport, Barrier Free, barrier free public buildings, Inclusive workplace, Ms. Sminu Jindal, People with Reduced Mobility, Persons with Disabilities, Sminu Jindal, Svayam, Svayam Press Releases | 1 Comment