Bengaluru

Ensuring more options for persons with disabilities

Disability sports

Disability sports  

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On the International Day of Disabled Persons, a look at city-based organisations that help make areas like travel, sport and technology more inclusive

People are spoilt for choice when it comes to options for transport in the city: there is public transport – buses, taxis and autorickshaws – and there are private vehicles. But how many of these are options for a person with a disability?

Inclusiveness is a concept often forgotten. This is why the theme for the International Day of Disabled Persons 2017 on December 3 is ‘Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all’. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind,” pitching for persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change to “fast-track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development.”

Initiatives begun in Bengaluru have enabled, such persons to lead more independent lives or enjoy opportunities available to everybody else.

KickStart: Enabling travel

Vidhya Ramasubban was already working with disability related-issues with not-for-profits when she realised that there was one area where barely any work had been done: transport. In 2014, she started KickStart with Srikrish, a taxi service for those dependent on others for travel. This included persons with disabilities and senior citizens.

“We started in 2014. By last year, we figured there was a huge demand for such services. There were lots of requests from within and outside India. So we expanded within Bengaluru and are now exploring opportunities out of the city too,” she said.

The service has completed over 25,000 trips till date for around 4,000 customers – 90% of them repeat customers. These were primarily for getting to work, visiting hospitals, social engagements or for leisure.

It is not just our fleet of nine cars that are designed for people with mobility issues, even our drivers are trained to cater to them, Ms. Ramasubban added.

Divyaang Myithri: For sports stars

These individuals are paralympic athletes themselves. They came up with Divyaang Myithri Sports Academy (DMSA), which aims to be an “incubator and enabler in producing Paralympics champions.”

Says Dilip Kumar, one of the trustees, “The six of us are tennis players. We realised there is no proper infrastructure or support for para-athletes. There are organisations working in different fields for persons with disabilities but not in the field of sports. That is why we decided to start DMSA in 2016.”

The academy’s inaugural event was a wheelchair cricket tournament. It brought together a team for the State. “We will also start camps in tennis, cricket, swimming, etc. We have another wheelchair cricket tournament too early next year. We are organising all these events so we can train as many people as we can and take them to the international level. Such camps will also increase awareness about sporting abilities among people,” Mr. Kumar said.

S. Shivaprasad, another member of DMSA, said, “I am a third-ranked wheelchair tennis player in India and even I feel that we have been denied access to sports. Tennis courts across the city charge hefty memberships and equipment is expensive. We want more people to join us,” he said.

Eye-D

With as many as 9,000 active users in over 160 countries, a simple application is helping the visually impaired go about their life independently – from reading names of medicines to telling them where they are and which is the nearest bank. Eye-D, which was started by city-based GingerMind Technologies, is now operational in 12 languages and is looking at expanding to regional Indian languages.

It was a Corporate social responsibility (CSR) trip to an association for the blind that led the makers to develop the app. “We saw a person adept at using the computer, but struggling to move around. We wanted to use technology to make their lives easier,” said Shaswat Jena, Operations and Q&A, Eye-D. Existing options were not available to persons with visual impairment which is why they developed the artificial intelligence-based smartphone assistance, available both for free and in paid versions.

Janastu: Technology is for everyone

“Technology has to deliver for everybody. It cannot say, go learn how to read and then come,” says T.B. Dinesh, technical director, Janastu, a not-for-profit organisation that has been providing Free Open source Software Solutions and support (FOSS) to small non-profits since 2002. Their solutions are not aimed only at persons with disabilities; they want to bring technology to anyone from disadvantaged sections.

That is why it came as a surprise even to them that Pantoto Communities, a web-based software for communities to manage community knowledge, was used by a group of people with disabilities almost 10 years ago.

Janastu is also developing Alipi, a re-narration web, which is a “set of tools for developing and rendering narratives that assist in accessing web-content across cultural boundaries.”

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 5:57:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/ensuring-more-options-for-persons-with-disabilities/article21251906.ece

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