Last year was special for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) — Manasi Joshi lifted the Para-Badminton World Championships gold trophy in Basel, Switzerland; Pranjal Patil became the first blind woman to take charge as an IAS officer, and Urvi Jangam became the first visually impaired person to receive a PhD in German Studies
According to the 2011 Census of India, there are close to 2.68 crore PwDs that have the potential to give their best to the economy and society. . With the figure expected to grow with the State’s new definition on what is considered as a ‘disability’, it has never been more important to work towards building an inclusive India. However, the prohibitive cost of Assistive Technologies (ATs) that empower PwDs means that they are out of the reach of the masses, leaving PwDs unable to contribute to the formal or informal economy to the best of their potential.
How Innovate for Accessible India (IAI) will power the growth of Assistive Technologies
Innovators are now leveraging the power of Information Communication Technologies (ICT’s) to create low-cost, high-impact solutions for PwDs that are seeking to acquire services and support across multiple sectors.
To enable the efforts of such innovators to come to fruition, NASSCOM Foundation and Microsoft India, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE), have announced the Innovate for Accessible India (IAI). Click here to know more.
Speaking at the launch, Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, said, “With over a billion people around the world living with some form of disability, it is critical that we find new ways to use technology to enable everyone to fully participate in the socio-economic environment around us.”
This initiative will catalyse the ideation and creation of innovative, affordable and scalable Assistive Technologies that use Microsoft cloud and other technologies so that PwDs can access education, skill- building, employment, mobility, rehabilitation and other government services with ease, added Anant.
Bringing solutions to empower PWDs to reality
While the initiative will encourage the creation and dissemination of ideas, but more importantly, it will bring a few practically feasible solutions to reality.
The program will invite applications that address challenges in all the 21 recognised disabilities and also encourage the building of customised solutions that address specific and unique problems that persons with specific disabilities face.
The last date for applications is April 15, 2020. You can apply now by clicking here.
At the end of the application stage, 10 ideas will be selected as the winning innovations. After a six-month screening process, finalists will be provided support for another six months to roll out their solutions in the market.
These finalists will be mentored by Microsoft and NASSCOM Foundation and the Education and Research Network (ERNET) and will be given grants of Rs 10 lakh to develop and scale their solution in the established projects category (pilot testing with a group of more than 25 beneficiaries), and Rs 5 lakh each in the early-stage category (working prototype tested by less than 25 people).
On the announcement of the initiative Dr. Neeraj Sharma, Advisor and Head, NEB Division, Department of Science and Technology, MST, said, “Programs like this strike a deep chord with us given our role in promoting science and technology to develop solutions, products, and services to address challenges faced by the masses.”
IAI will also carry out the education of innovators on the various disability areas and the key development themes that need to be addressed. It will be a platform to crowdsource these ideas from students, citizens and social impact organisations.
Applications are open till April 15, 2020. You can apply now by clicking here.
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