A universal design in a pregnancy toolkit which can be used by any woman with or without disability, a prosthetic device for lower limb that is dynamic, lightweight, affordable and adjustable to any patient costs just $ 50, or building in a whole new human-centric products and wiki kind of a platform for deaf and hearing community.
Truly a revolution!!!
Last May, I was in Delhi part of the challenge identification among other 5 jury members across the different organization. The process that preceded this jury stage involved working with persons with disabilities from a grass-roots research to identify the key challenges they face.
We evaluated over 50 challenges,. be it accessibility and safety physical infrastructure, access to information & entertainment, affordable assistive devices, affordable services and service providers, mainstream employment and lot more ….
Let me give illustrative examples, Access to information – say a person with hearing disability his/her mode of interaction is through sign language, therefore we need technological solutions for text/sign language to speech and vice-versa or dynamic interpreter services mobile application. Or If we are looking at service providers example caregivers, unlike the US we don’t have qualified caregivers services available. Inaccessible public places, Assistive devices manufactured abroad don’t have spare parts in the country., Barriers to employment in the rural/informal sector.
Being part of EnAble Makeathon(EM2), part of ICRC global innovation hub was a great learning and collaborative experience for me. EM two is a collaborative initiative that simultaneously occurred in London and India bringing the best of innovation and technology. The aim was not only to innovate new solutions for people with disability but to draw together institutions, individuals and companies to invest in prototypes to create a thriving ecosystem of innovation addressing the needs of PWD’s.
Top 12 challenges were identified for ‘call for application’ as a next step, this was a critical phase where we saw a lot of entrepreneurs, technologist and innovators came forward to participate in the EM2.
EM2 created a correlation between innovators, mentors, technical experts and persons with disabilities who were engaged in designing innovative solutions.
Dipendra Manocha, Saksham Trust. Anuj Jain, National Association of the Deaf. Himangshu Das, National Institute for Persons with Multiple Disabilities and Catherine Holloway, Global Disability Innovation Hub we all were part of the jury on challenge identification, the day was filled with so many conversations, we shared how we have big pockets of areas like inclusive education, accessible transport, system of peer support and services that are untouched and potential market space
When it comes to universal design can we bridge the huge gap that exists currently for people with disabilities?
Thinking about universal design my conversation with US Senator Tom Richard Harkins, was how he ensured the ADA (American disability act) State centers ensure to audit every new building to adhere to the ADA accessibility standards, currently the US government is also signed for universal design for all their driverless cars, think about it, every driverless car has voice-enabled system, ramps and wheelchair accommodation space etc Harkins shares ‘’if we make few products that are accessible the cost definitely goes high because of the separate production, Harkins idea is if we make a mass production which is accessible across all units, the cost of accessibility diminishes”
ICRC Global Innovation Hub has truly set the stage for the next wave in the inclusion and innovation co-creation space. Bringing in together the platforms to ideate & incubate inclusive products and solutions.
We definitely need to take such Enable Makeathon platforms into larger scale and to different cities and to different organisation to invest, innovate, include and impact the larger society.
The team definitely has done extensive research in the background to ensure the right voices where heard throughout the co-creation process. The ICRC team headed by Tarun Sarwal, Innovation Advisor and Sushil Kumar, Innovation Officer chairs behind this co-creation platform., deserve a great appreciation on this commendable launchpad to create the bigger impact that has been set out. The team’s synergies and inclusivity have definitely been a great learning for me. Kudos to Angel Singha & Manas Tiwari.
I have been in the disability advocacy & technology space for 6 years now, on my initial day we spoke about awareness and bringing out faces to People with Ability to true empowerment and enablement that has definitely moved milestones to today creating market space of inclusive services, mainstream opportunities, enabling technology and entrepreneurs that voice the 70 million people with disability in India.
EM2 Jury & core team members
Panel Discussion*- Listening to needs: Humanitarian Innovation, entrepreneurship and inclusivity
Panel Discussion* – Humanitarianism and inclusion: addressing the innovation gap
Mina Mojtahedi, Disability Inclusion Coordinator (ICRC), Preethi Srinivasan, Founder Soulfree & Me