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ICMR, Svayam conduct dialogue on ‘Accessibility and Assistive Devices are crucial for Viksit Bharat’

Professionals from AIIMS, ICRC, ICMR among others participated in the event

Svayam, India’s leading accessibility organisation partnered with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to host a discussion session titled ‘Accessibility and Assistive Devices are crucial for Viksit Bharat’. Over 70 professionals from institutions such as AIIMS, ICRC, ICMR, WHO, the Ministry of Railways, among others participated in the event. Several dignitaries including Rajesh Aggarwal, Secretary of DEPwD, Dr Rajiv Bahl, Secretary of DHR & DG at ICMR, Sminu Jindal, Founder-Chairperson, Svayam, Dr RS Dhaliwal, Scientist ‘G’ & Head, ICMR and Dr Ravinder Singh, Scientist at ICMR, graced the occasion with their presence. 

Accessibility and the use of assistive devices play a crucial role in ensuring equal opportunities and inclusion for people with reduced mobility across various aspects of life, including education, employment, social participation, and daily activities. The discussion session brought together experts, policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders to engage in meaningful dialogue on how we can collectively work towards creating a more accessible environment and promoting assistive devices to empower individuals with reduced mobility in India. The focus was on promoting the use of assistive devices to nurture a more inclusive society. 

Aggarwal said, “Accessibility encompasses both physical and digital barriers. While physical accessibility, such as ramps and transportation, is often considered, true accessibility extends to the entire experience, including aspects like visual, auditory, and mobility accommodations. It’s not just about having ramps and accessible toilets in places like shopping malls and cinemas; it’s about the overall inclusivity of the experience and how can everybody enjoy it. Every aspect of human life should be accessible and designed to accommodate the diverse needs of all individuals.” 

Sminu Jindal, Founder-Chairperson, Svayam said, “Access to proper assistive devices is crucial. For me, my wheelchair is my best friend since it helps me lead a better life. There is no reason to be shy of assistive devices and we should invest in them since they can bring quality of life. Accessibility affects each one of us in different phases of our lives. India’s demographic landscape is shifting towards an ageing population, highlighting the importance of accessible infrastructure. Awareness remains a key challenge; I’ve dedicated 24 years to promoting accessibility. Therefore, World Accessibility Day must be celebrated as it allows us to talk about awareness around accessibility.” 

Dr RS Dhaliwal, Scientist ‘G’ & Head, ICMR said, “Over the past two to three decades, significant strides have been made in fostering inclusivity for individuals with disabilities. This shift in perception can be attributed to increased advocacy efforts, with Svayam notably contributing substantially in this regard. While those in the medical field can create devices to aid individuals, true progress involves integrating them into society and ensuring their usefulness—a task beyond the scope of the research fraternity. Advocacy requires people with a strong passion since social changes are not very easy to make.”

Svayam has joined forces with the ICMR, ICRC, National Divyangjan Finance and Development Corporation (NDFDC), Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), Differently Abled Cricket Council of India (DCCI), and 20 NGOs across Delhi, UP, Bihar, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh to designate March 27 as the World Accessibility Day.


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