Cognizant Foundation Unveils Flagship Programme and Platform to Empower Persons with Disabilities for 21st century Tech Jobs

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New Delhi: Marking the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Cognizant Foundation, the CSR arm of IT service major Cognizant, at a virtual event announced the launch of its flagship programme – Tech4All, to empower and skill persons with disabilities (PwDs) for jobs in technology and technology-enabled services. The programme will be implemented across India in collaboration with multiple partners.

Aligned with the Foundation’s increased focus on inclusion and technology as an enabler, the programme will be implemented in phases. In the first year of implementation, with INR 1.95 Crores in funding from Cognizant Foundation, the programme will partner with Dr. Reddy’s Foundation and Cheshire Disability Trust to train 700 people, including women from underserved communities, in basic and advanced IT skills with an aim to place them in technology-related jobs.

Speaking on this occasion, Rajesh Nambiar, Chairman, Cognizant Foundation & Chairman & Managing Director, Cognizant India said, “At Cognizant, we are deeply committed to creating conditions for everyone to thrive. As we rapidly move towards a digital economy, it is important that underserved communities, especially persons with disabilities, are not excluded from the workforce of the future. We will champion initiatives that support digital inclusion and equity in India, and support programmes that harness the power of technology to improve lives and drive social impact. We deeply thank our partners in helping us in our journey to utilize technology for social good.”

As part of the first phase, Tech4all will be piloted in four States – Delhi-NCR, Karnataka, Telangana and West Bengal.

Srilakshmi Bellamkonda, Associate Director – Operations, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation said: “Technology has the power to break barriers and ensure access to the most relevant educational programmes and inclusion in all aspects of society. Cognizant Foundation’s Tech4All flagship programme will be a great platform to increase the opportunities for productive employment for persons with disability.”

Anuradha Patil, Manager, Cheshire Disability Trust said: “Cognizant Foundation’s Tech4All programme is a pivotal platform in helping us provide to PwDs equitable opportunities for employment in banking and finance domain. In addition to opening career doors, the Tech4All programme would be a boon in creating hope and driving aspiration by breaking capability barriers to create a more inclusive society.”

Additionally, the Foundation has also partnered with EnAble India to develop Blimey, a cloud-based learning platform to make digital learning accessible for the visually impaired in multiple local languages. Blimey facilitates distance learning and will be accessible to learners around the globe since it is built as an open-source platform. It enables visually impaired users to learn computers independently, with very little or no help, and work with screen readers like NVDA, JAWS, and magnifiers. Users can choose from more than 400 online exercises and master the topics at their own pace; evaluate progress using real-world scenarios, job simulations without depending on trainers, and benefit from AI-enabled interventions with increased usage.

Dipesh Sutariya, Co-founder and CEO, EnAble India said: “We have been focused on transforming the lives of persons with visual impairment for over two decades. Today, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities we are thrilled in taking the next step in that journey by partnering with Cognizant Foundation to develop ‘Blimey’, which will help persons with visual impairment become digitally literate and empowered on the path towards active citizenship. We cherish this partnership with Cognizant Foundation and our shared commitment.’’

Over the last 16 years, the Foundation has been dedicated to fostering a sustainable future and improving lives in underserved communities. It has adopted the cross-cutting theme of preventing disabilities and empowering persons with disabilities across the sectors of healthcare, education and livelihood. The Foundation has supported projects focused on skilling persons with disabilities as well as women and youth from the underserved communities since 2013.