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Without accessibility, inclusivity cannot become a reality: Shakuntala D Gamlin

The secretary, department of empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Shakuntala D Gamlin addressed the 11th edition of the universal design awards that recognises work accessibility for people with disabilities

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi | September 29, 2020 8:50:54 pm
NCPEDP awards, arman ali, universal design awards, accessibility, People with Disabilities awards, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, Shakuntala D GamlinThe 11th edition of the Universal Design Awards saw 20 winners. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Twenty individuals and organisations were today awarded for their universal design work towards promoting accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). A total of 13 winners, two special jury awardees, and four jury recognitions were acknowledged during the virtual ceremony which also celebrated the International Day for Universal Access to Information on September 28. The winners comprised lawyers, engineers, activists among others.

Congratulating the awardees, the chief guest of the ceremony, Shakuntala D Gamlin, secretary, department of empowerment of PwDs said, “Accessibility issues are challenging to the policymakers, 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.”

She also mentioned how accessibility and inclusivity needs to be seen from a wider perspective. “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.

ALSO READ | Pandemic and a lockdown: Persons with disabilities grapple with more challenges

Conceived in 2010 to create awareness about the principles of universal design and encourage people to innovate and create products, the 11th NCPEDP – Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2020 awards, organised by National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), included work that would lead to policy changes to promote accessibility for all spheres.

While in category A, awards were given to PwDs who designed consumer products with the aid of assistive technology in their personal and professional capacity like — Dr Vikrant Sirohi who has extensively put up ramps, reserved parking as well as labour room expansion at the primary health centres; Ravindra Rambhan Singh whose organisation myUDAAN developed V GO that converts any manual wheelchair into a motorised one, category B saw activists who work for the cause of the disabled. This included computer engineer Adarsh Hasija who has developed several apps for the disabled, and Naveen Kumar M who has designed a multipurpose, light-weight wheelchair, among others.

Arman Ali, executive director, NCPEDP pointed out that the pandemic had taught everyone 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 today’s times,” he said.

Som Mittal, chairman, NCPEDP reiterated the need to ensure that the upcoming Census 2021 is “inclusive and accessible for PwDs” 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 sensitised with right questions”.

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