‘Without accessibility, inclusivity cannot become a reality’ says Shakuntala D Gamlin, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities
NCPEDP highlights the need for making the census 2021 accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities
The winners of the 11th NCPEDP Mphasis Universal Design Award were awarded in a virtual ceremony on Monday September 28, 2020.
20 individuals and organizations were recognized for their pathbreaking work on promoting accessibility for persons with disabilities at this virtual ceremony of the NCPEDP Mphasis Universal Design Awards that entered their second decade this year. Conceived in 2010 to create awareness about the principles of Universal Design and to encourage people to innovate and create products based on the same, the Awards were then expanded to include work that would lead to policy changes to promote accessibility for all and increase the mandate of the Awards to also increase access to services.
Speaking at the ceremony, Srikanth Karra, Chief Human Resource Officer, Mphasis said “Inclusion and Innovations are the key tenets, the pillars on which our support is based. The most important thing for us are the structural changes achieved through advocating for policies. You can always do the small sponsorships and small scale level interventions, but doing it at the structural or policy level has been a much more everlasting and solid contribution.”
Congratulating the Awardees, NCPEDP and Mphasis, the Chief Guest of the ceremony, Shakuntala D. Gamlin, Secretary, Department Of Empowerment Of Persons With Disabilities said “Accessibility issues are challenging to the policy makers, engineers, governments, corporates, innovators and inventors but we should not tire from going incrementally towards perfecting and trying to replicate the designs and the accessibility issues that can finally take us towards a professed goal of universal accessibility. Without accessibility, inclusivity cannot become a reality”. "What we are doing today may be looked at from the narrow perspective and it’s for particular category of disability, but looking from perspective of Universal accessibility and Inclusivity, you will find that, it has a wide and deep inclusive and empowerment not only for the disabled but the aged, the women, pregnant women, children, and many others and finally the universal inclusivity in terms of those who may have been left behind due to absence of technology and lack of proper accessible tools," she added.
Speaking on the occasion Arman Ali, executive director, NCPEDP pointed out that the pandemic had taught us the importance of accessibility as a fundamental right. "Access to information is particularly important as people with or without disabilities navigated through the new normal in todays times," he said.
Giving the closing remarks Som Mittal, Chairman, NCPEDP said that COVID has provided us with an opportunity and shown that many demands for reasonable accommodation by people with disabilities were not unreasonable and have now become part of work and life in this new normal. "Ensuring accessibility of products and services is not only mandated by the law but it makes for increased business sense as we can attract more customers – people with disabilities and older people –together easily 15% of our population," said Mittal. He also reiterated the need to ensure that the upcoming Census 2021 is inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities and appealed to the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities to push for this demand to ensure that people executing the Census must be trained and sensitized with right questions”.
Over 76 applications were received from across the country and even overseas. The jury for the prestigious award comprised of Som Mittal, Chairman, NCPEDP, Nipun O S, AVP and Head, CSR, Mphasis, Shilpi Kapoor, CEO, Barrier Break, Mamta Kohli, Senior Social Development Advisor, FCDO and Prof. P.VM Rao, Head, Department of Design, IIT Delhi.
The awards were instituted in 4 categories
A total of 13 Winners, 2 Special Jury Awardees, and 4 Jury Recognitions were acknowledged during the ceremony on September 28, which is also celebrated as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.
Category A: Persons with Disabilities
Awards in this category are given to people with disabilities who have created an impact in Accessibility and Universal Design by designing consumer products with the aid of assistive technology in their personal and professional capacity
1. Ravindra Rambhan Singh, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Ravindra, a person with a locomotor disability, is the founder of myUDAAN, a Technology Driven startup solving Special People Mobility problems. His organisation has developed a product called ‘V GO’ which converts any manual wheelchair into a motorized wheelchair. It can fit any wheelchair and does not need much assistance. Moreover, the product is cost effective.
Raghavendra is a web designer who was made responsible for building a the first team of accessibility specialists at IBM India. A visually impaired person, he propelled the A11y effort of making w3.ibm.com and www.ibm.com accessible. As a Senior Accessibility Consultant at Deque Software, he has helped more than 350 clients including Fortune500 and Fortune1000 which are spread across multiple industry verticals such as e-commerce, health care, education, insurance, banking, and financial services.
3. Dr. Vikrant Sirohi, Haridwar, Uttarakhand
Dr. Sirohi is a Senior Medical Health Officer at Roorkee, Haridwar, and medical superintendent of the Community Health Center Bhagwanpur. He is Post-Polio Paralytic on the right leg.
Dr. Sirohi has worked extensively to eliminate the obstacles and barriers to accessibility by putting up ramps, reserved parking as well as enabling the labor room expansion at the grass-root level in primary and community health centres. He contributed to universal health coverage as his CHC, fulfilled the National Health Mission indicators of Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram among all health centres in Haridwar.
Special Recognition by Jury:
1. Ketan Kapoor B, Pune, Maharashtra
Ketan works as Disability & Inclusion (HR) Consultant at Siemens INDIA Pvt. Ltd and is an activist, a strategist focusing on advocacy, partnership in the field of Disability and Inclusion. Ketan falls under the category of 100% Disability and medical condition by birth known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) type III. He is the official Industrial Partner (IP) & official supporter to Skill Council Persons with Disabilities (SCPwD). In recent past (last year) in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) area with SCPwD at Empowerment of Person with Disability Camp, he did pro bono career counseling to walk in underprivileged Persons with Disabilities job seekers.
2. Pratishtha Deveshwar, Hoshiarpur, Punjab
Pratishtha graduated from LSR College for Women, Delhi University and is currently pursuing Master of Public Policy from the University of Oxford. An accident left her paralyzed chest down 9 years ago. In the capacity of President of Equal Opportunity Cell of her college, she worked towards enhancing accessibility and inclusion at college by conducting access audits, getting ramps built, providing accessible reading material to visually impaired students, conducting mobility workshops, that every event organized at college is inclusive, follows the universal design, and is accessible to all students.
Category B: Working Professionals
Awards in this category are given to people who work for the cause of accessibility. She/ he may be an employee of an education institute/ NGO/ corporate/ government body that has taken up the cause or maybe a consultant or freelancer who has devoted her/ his time for the cause.
1. Sandeep D Ranade, Pune, Maharashtra
Sandeep D. Ranade is the Founder and creator, NaadSadhana, an iOS app that uses artificial intelligence to create a live, creative and spontaneous musical experience on melody and harmony instruments like tanpura, swarmandal, strings and piano, and on rhythm and percussion instruments like tabla and manjira. It allows musicians (singers, instrumentalists, composers, etc), of all levels (students, experts, teachers), of all abilities (hearing impairment, visual impairment, color blindness, etc), and of all cultures to practice, perform and publish their music without barriers, to evolve endlessly and create amazing music with practice with precision.
2. Anupam Kumar Garg, Noida, Uttar Pradesh
Mr. Garg is a software engineer from IIT Kanpur, who left his full-time job to pursue his ambition of promoting maths and science learning in persons with visual disabilities. He has developed GEOMKIT (patented under his name) to assist students with visual disabilities in constructing ‘embossed’ geometrical patterns as these students use embossed touch sensations to visualize.
3. Adarsh Hasija, Bengaluru, Karnataka
Adarsh Hasija is a Computer Engineer who has developed many apps for persons with disabilities. The first app he developed, LetsTalk, allowed speech-impaired people to communicate their feelings using pictures. His second app Stars Earth is a chatbot that help the user learn sign language.
4. Naveen Kumar M, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Naveen Kumar has developed the first multi-purpose wheelchair which has sitting, standing, sleeping, and stair climbing abilities. The product is very lightweight, weighing just 16 kgs, lesser than a conventional wheelchair, which enables the person using it to handle its weight easily.
Special Jury Award
1. Dr Srinivas Puppala, Telangana
Dr. Srinivas is Deputy Transport Commissioner in the Government of Telangana. Dr. Srinivas has been actively promoting the cause of accessibility for people with disabilities. He trained 40 persons with hearing disabilities, who were denied a driving license, to pass the theory and practical driving test, and also how to overcome the hearing loss during driving.
Aakanksha and Bharath are students at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. They have developed a literacy tool called Typo which is specially targeted towards helping kids with cerebral palsy to learn and write the English language while retaining and/or improving their sensory-motor skills.
2. Astha Ashesh Avinash, Vadodara, Gujarat
Astha Avinash, Student at National Institute of Design Astha has designed a toy Looper/s for children that will help partial visually impaired children with additional disabilities like cerebral palsy, autism, and low cognitive abilities. LOOPERS promote inclusive design and universality.
Category C: Companies/ Organisation
Awards in this category are given to those companies or organisations who have taken up the cause of Accessibility and Universal Design by implementing either/all of these within their organisations, which has led to them recruiting or serving people with disabilities and providing them equal opportunities to participate to the best of their abilities.
1. Flexmotiv Technologies Pvt Ltd, New Delhi
Flexmotiv has built Flexmo crutches, the world’s first self-standing crutch. Flexmo crutches are a design improvement of the traditional crutch crafted to improve the mobility of a person using crutches. Till now, they have served more than 150 users across India.
Kidaura has created Screenplay, a digital game-based screening tool that helps in identification of children who have mild autism and are mislabelled or not identified The screenplay reduces the identification time for the formal assessment which school usually takes one year to figure out.
Tactopus develops universally designed learning products to promote a diverse inclusive co-learning culture and social integration. It is a step towards allowing children to learn in the same space using the same learning aids, on a level playing field.
TurnPlus, built by Truce Consulting under the brand name True Consultancy Assistive Technology, is an award-winning swivel seat mechanism for the car passenger seat. It is suitable for various medical conditions like osteoarthritis, paralytic/stroke, traumatic brain injury, pregnancy, backbone/knee/spine ailments, multiple sclerosis, issues related to old age, wheelchair users, etc.
The NCPEDP – Mphasis Javed Abidi Public Policy Awards for Accessibility and Universal Design
1. Karpagam. M, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Karpagam. M is the first visually-challenged woman lawyer activist in the State of Tamil Nadu. As a legal professional, she has filed Public Interest Litigations and fought for promoting the rights and accessibility of disabled – temple accessibility in 38,000 temples in Tamil Nadu.
2. Arun Kumar Singh, Jharkhand
Arun is the President of Jharkhand Viklang Manch and has locomotor disability. He has significantly contributed to promote the movement of rural poor disabled people in the state of Jharkhand. He has filed many public interest litigations and got judgment in favour of persons with disabilities with regard to accessible elections, employment, and accessibility at various places, selection and recruitment of visually impaired candidates, admission of disabled to B.ED course and other substantive issues of persons with disabilities.
Special Jury Award
Kausar Jamil Hilaly, Guwahati, Assam
Kausar Jamil Hilaly was Assam’s State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) from July 2018 to July 2020. He worked extensively to finalise and bring the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Assam Rules in force and monitored implementation of specific provisions of the RPD Act by different authorities.
Registered in 1996, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) is the country’s premier cross-disability, not-for-profit organisation working as an interface between Government, Industry, International Agencies and the Voluntary Sector towards empowerment of persons with disabilities. Its mandate is simple – to encourage the employment of disabled people, increase public awareness on the issue of disability, empower disabled people with knowledge, information and opportunities and ensure easy and convenient access to all public places. NCPEDP works on six core principles, also called the six pillars of the organization, namely: 1) Education; 2) Employment; 3) Accessibility; 4) Legislation/Policy; 5) Awareness/Communication, and 6) Youth. For more information, visit: https://www.ncpedp.org
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