The best thing in life has to be independence. At Ability Foundation, challenged persons are helped into that ultimate enabler of independence – jobs. “Just like any other fundamental right, all of us have a right to jobs we are qualified for,” says Jayshree Raveendran, who set up Ability Foundation, after giving up a career that included being lecturer at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and the Indira Gandhi National Open University. She started off humbly with the magazine Success & Ability , an informative and inspiring magazine that helps bridge the divide between persons with and without disability. Now, Ability Foundation’s initiatives like EmployAbility, an annual job fair that brings together employers and qualified persons with disabilities on a non-discriminating platform, AbilityFest: India International Disability Film Festival and the CavinKare Ability Awards have become calendar events in the city for all. A member of the drafting committee of the revised bill on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Jayshree shares, “Of course, there is still a long way to go. But things are definitely looking up. Even as of now, 225 corporate groups regularly coordinate with us for sourcing qualified persons with disabilities for jobs, for whom we do sensitisation programmes on request”.
Jayshree Raveendran is also an inspiration by herself. While a childhood accident may have stolen her hearing, it couldn’t stop her from learning to dance, to play the veena, giving inspiring talks like the 2011 TedX talk, establishing the Ability Foundation and in getting society to shed its archaic notions on disability.