New Delhi: India carries great potential in the advent of assistive technology; to become a global enabler, we must focus on skilled engineers & creating an interface with the user, says Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, GoI. He was speaking at the 5th conference on Empowering Persons with Disabilities through Accessible & Assistive Technology: ‘Equal Opportunities & Inclusive Ecosystem’ organised by ASSOCHAM recently, as the Chief Guest.
“Around one-third of the population in the globe requires technology to lead an optimal life so there is a huge scope in the market segment to make an impact. High-priority tasks should involve meeting the quality and standards of the equipment and require people to have the skills to develop and manufacture”, said Paul, ”To match the requirement for aiding civic society, we must maximize R&D, innovation, and priority groups with assistive technology, with the goal of reaching 100 per cent of the concerned population.
Guest of Honour, Rajesh Agarwal, IAS, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India highlighted the massive scope to scale up assistive technology for disabled persons and make it accessible to all. There are 2.5 billion people in the world who need assistive products and services, he noted. A holistic approach should be applied to meet the demands of the disabled for the growth of society as it is a transformative step for the nation.
In his welcome address, Anil Rajput, Chairperson of ASSOCHAM CSR Council and President, Corporate Affairs, ITC Ltd., said, India should aim for mainstreaming an inclusive environment and ecosystem for equal rights, accessible technology, comfortable work environment and skill development for a person with special abilities. A truly inclusive society is one in which everyone can lead an independent & self-reliant life and contribute to the economy.”
Aligning with the Accessible India campaign launched by PM Shri Narendra Modi, it has raised enthusiasm in persons with disabilities with the right to transportation and a barrier-free environment.
According to Hezekiel Dlamini, Officer-in-Charge, UNESCO New, Delhi Cluster Office, said, ”Persons with all abilities and disabilities must enjoy all the rights and fundamental freedom with equal opportunities. Our major focus should be on education and inclusive life-learning opportunities for all. All content should be made available and accessible to the children with disabilities to increase awareness, public advocacy and policy-making.”
”Technology is an empowering tool for the disabled as it makes the thing possible and easy,” said T. D. Dhariyal, Advisor, CBM India Trust in Disability, Inclusion & Mainstreaming and former Dy. Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Govt. of India. We should follow a right-based approach than a charity-based approach, he stressed. Industry and stakeholders should focus on a private-public partnership to enable disabled people to stand on their own feet for them to contribute to society.
Sarika Minda, Chairperson, Spark Minda Foundation addressed day-to-day challenges faced by persons with disabilities and how the upgradation of technology is paving the way for improvement and skill development. Steps should be undertaken right from the grassroots level as assistive technology reduces the need for formal health and support services, long-term care and the work of caregivers.