For the 43-year-old orthopaedically challenged Surya Nagappan life so far revolved around his organisation CALIBER that works for people with locomotor disabilities. But no longer so. He was handed over the reins of UDIS Forum as its new managing trustee in Coimbatore on Saturday.

So is the case with Usha Visweswaran, vice-president of SAARATHY-PAMMAC, which is an association of parents of the mentally challenged. She is now one of the trustees of UDIS Forum.

Nine persons including them — three orthopaedically challenged, two visually impaired, two hearing-impaired, and two parents of persons with disabilities, will get a chance to bring together their individual experiences under a single roof and to work for the united cause of persons with all kinds of disabilities.

The UDIS (You and the Disabled) Forum, which began working for the cause of differently-abled in 2006, under the leadership of M.N.G. Mani as its Managing Trustee, will now be led and governed by a team of differently-abled and their parents. It is a network of persons with disabilities, their parents, professionals and voluntary organisations, for facilitating employment and empowerment of persons with disabilities.

It was an emotional moment as the founding trust handed over the network formally to the new trust. According to Mr. Mani, though this conversion idea germinated even while at the conception stage of the network, it took six years to make it into a legally viable entity with assured financial support.

“The network is now in a comfort zone and hence the time was right to hand it over to be managed by them. This is an organisation for the differently-abled, so we believe that it will be handled well by them. We hope this conversion will be a role model for other such networks,” he said. Though the decision of conversion was not a very difficult one, the implementation was. A great deal of work had to go into convincing the original Trust members, the funding agencies and of course the new Trust, which was vary of carrying forward the activities as it was being done.

According to Mr. Nagappan, though it is not easy to carry forward the baton, when we realised that we expected to take up the primary responsibility of running the organisation as a united whole for the disability movement, we agreed to accept the challenge.

The attempt was seen as an opportunity to develop the individual organisations of the trustees and also to use UDIS Forum as a bridge to link all these organisations that worked for different disabilities.

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