ABOUT 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability and 2-4% among them experience severe difficulties in day-to-day functioning. According to the United Nations, of the one billion population of persons with disabilities globally, 80% live in developing countries.
The World Bank data indicates that the number of persons with disabilities in India ranges between 40 and 80 million, making India a nation with the highest number of disabled people. Disability is extremely challenging and a person living with it has to fight daily battles for the most basic rights and to be included in the mainstream.
Those who have a disability and come from impoverished households are even worse off and face greater difficulties in getting education, training and rehabilitation. The global COVID-19 crisis has deepened existing inequalities and exclusion further, making persons with disabilities among the hardest hit in this crisis.
To promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities, Dec 3 is observed every year as the ‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’. Here, we feature 10 NGOs in India dedicated to helping those with disabilities live with dignity and equal opportunity.
Founded in 1999, Diya Foundation is a Bangalore-based vocational training centre providing education and employability skills to adults with intellectual challenges. In the last 20 years, Diya has impacted over 200 such adults and made life-altering changes in over 800 lives.
As a result, the beneficiaries have experienced a big shift in their self-esteem, self-dependence and productivity. They have learnt skills like personal grooming and hygiene, household and financial management, personal-social skills, occupational guidance and employability skills.
Diya Foundation stands as a model for training and employment of people with special needs, preparing them with job skills, daily living skills and the ability to be self-dependent. It is on a mission to enrich the quality of life and bring dignity to differently abled adults by building support systems and enhancing awareness in the community. Donate here to help Diya continue its transformational efforts for differently abled persons.
Active since 1959, this Bangalore-based NGO has been transforming the lives of underprivileged people with disabilities. It runs extensive programmes in rural and urban Karnataka to enable, equip and empower children and adults with a range of disabilities including locomotive difficulty, spinal cord injury, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, and to some extent, mental issues. To date, APD has impacted 500,000+ lives of people with disabilities.
The APD works with stakeholders like Village Rehabilitation Workers (VRWs), Multiple Rehabilitation Workers (MRWs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and government departments. Their work has earned them several awards including Best Assistive Technology for Innovation among NGOs 2021 and NCPEDP-Mindtree Helen Keller Award 2019. You can help them reach more people with disabilities who need care and nurturing by donating here.
Started in 1997 by Akhil Paul, Sense International India aims to help all deafblind children and adults to become full and active members of society. They partner with people with deafblindness and multiple disabilities, their families, caregivers and professionals to ensure that everyone facing challenges because of deafblindness and other disabilities has access to advice, opportunities and support. In the last two decades they have assisted over 77,500 deafblind people and their families through their network of 59 partners across 22 states.
Their work has been recognised by World CSR Day & World Sustainability Forum Development of Individuals with deafblindness in 2017 and Sense International was awarded the Gujarat NGO Leadership Award. You can help their commendable work by donating here.
Family of Disabled (FoD) was founded in 1992 by Dr Rajinder Johar who was rendered a quadriplegic (paralysis of all the four limbs) for life by an injury to his cervical spine. FoD strives to provide the right platform and opportunity to persons with disabilities from poor socio-economic backgrounds to earn their livelihood and be economically independent.
FOD also works to create awareness and sensitise the masses about various aspects of various disabilities. Further, it promotes quality education amongst children, encourages artists and artisans with disabilities to showcase their talent. FoD also has to its credit the publishing India’s first magazine on Disability. You can donate here to ensure FoD continues to serve and empower more people with disabilities.
VISHWAS promotes the rights and interests of the disadvantaged and people with disabilities. It partners with stakeholders to build knowledge and capacities on inclusive practices and policies and creates opportunities for meaningful participation. VISHWAS has developed a Disability Resource Manual training material for ASHA and Anganwadi workers, regular teachers and parents for spreading awareness and for the right information related to all 21 disabilities and associated challenges.
VISHWAS has four complementary programmes: 1. VISHWAS Vidyalaya provides an equitable and inclusive school system for children with or without disabilities. 2. VISHWAS Research and Training programme enhances operational learning by bridging the gap between intent and practice for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. 3. VISHWAS Skill Development and Training programme supports young adults and adults with disabilities with skill development and life skills opportunities. 4. VISHWAS Community Based Programme facilitates communities to provide a barrier free and inclusive environment for persons with disabilities. You can support VISHWAS by donating here.
A National Award winning NGO, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled was started in 1997 by Mahantesh G Kivadasannavar and his schoolmate the Late Sugur Paramashivaiah Nagesh. The organisation works for the empowerment of persons with disabilities and the underserved through various initiatives focused on providing quality education, accommodation, nutritious food, vocational training and placement based rehabilitation. It helps create opportunities for persons with disabilities to be part of the society.
Samarthanam Trust is a solution provider for education and livelihood needs of persons with disabilities. It also creates direct livelihood opportunities to hundreds of persons with disabilities and women in distress through its social enterprises. Samarthanam Trust’s cricketing arm, the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), organises blind cricket tournaments for visually impaired players across India. Help them continue transforming lives by donating here.
Founded by Dr Jitender Aggarwal, this NGO works towards the empowerment of people with disability through early intervention, inclusive education, skill development and placement. What began with a batch of eight blind students in Delhi is now spread across 23 centres across India. To date, Sarthak has trained and placed more than 55,000 persons with disabilities.
Sarthak believes that inclusive education will pave the path for an inclusive society and has successfully rehabilitated school going children with disabilities in mainstream schools through sensitization of various stakeholders and remedial classes. You can contribute here to help Sarthak continue its mission to uplift people with disabilities.
Started in 2011, Cheshire Disability Trust (CDT) is a member of the Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) Global Alliance that is present in 54 countries. CDT has a vision of creating a society in which disabled persons can enjoy their rights and have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. Their efforts enable people to improve their quality of life and to campaign for the removal of barriers that hinder them. This is done by providing livelihood opportunities to persons with disabilities across the country.
CDT focuses on providing employability training and placement to ensure people with disabilities belonging to economically backward classes get equal opportunities. CDT has also started self-defense training for disabled women, a first of its kind in southern India. The project’s aim is to educate, empower and inspire women with disabilities through self-defence training and develop capabilities for their overall wellbeing. You can donate here to help support the work of CDT.
Youth4Jobs was set up by Meera Shenoy eight years ago to help youth with disabilities have equal access to education and employment opportunities. This is done by partnering with communities, companies and the government. The training provided includes soft skills, life skills and digital literacy along with orientation to markets depending on job vacancies. Youth with disabilities are placed in entry level jobs, after training. Youth4Jobs has an alumni base of about 25,000 youth with disabilities.
Its work has won numerous prestigious national and international awards like Future of Work award and the MIT Inclusion Innovation Challenge. Your donation can boost the efforts of Youth4Jobs.
Deepalaya was started in 1979 to foster self-reliance and help underprivileged children rise above their societal limitations. Active in Delhi, Haryana, U.P. Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, Deepalaya helps fight against discrimination towards the girl child, marginalization of the differently abled, oppression of women and lack of basic healthcare.
Deepalaya has created separate programmes to educate differently abled children and ensure that the entire family becomes self reliant. They have also established several projects in the areas of education, women empowerment (reproductive health, self help groups, micro-finance, etc), institutional care, community health, vocational training and upliftment of the differently abled.
You can donate here and strengthen the initiatives of Deepalaya.
Persons with disabilities should be seen for what they CAN do instead of what they cannot. A disability must not exclude someone from the opportunity to be independent and live a full, enriching life.
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Samar is a Marketing Communications specialist and freelance writer. She has a master’s in marketing and creativity from ESCP Business School. She is an avid traveler and likes to write about technology, travel, wildlife and sustainability.