Persons with disabilities (PwDs) in India face discrimination and marginalisation every day. They lack access to essential services and are restricted in movement due to lack of infrastructure and ease of access. Their inability to contribute towards income of the family, and incurring expenses in treatment and medication, are seen as an additional burden, especially in a low-income household.
CSR for Persons with Disabilities
However, corporate social responsibility is changing the lives of many PwDs with targetted projects to boost their employability and self-confidence. We are featuring the most impactful CSR projects in India for Persons with Disabilities.
1. Spark Minda Foundation: SAKSHAM
Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group is one of the leading manufacturers of automotive components for the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Spark Minda Foundation is the CSR wing for the group of companies. To ensure sustainable livelihoods of Persons with Disability (PwD), Spark Minda Group has developed a Project called “SAKSHAM”.
The CSR project functions as a supplement to the Accessible India Campaign, launched by the Government of India. SAKSHAM is a CSR programme that works for the empowerment of persons with disability. The PwDs are not only benefited through assistive devices, but are also helped with livelihood. Over the last 5 years, SAKSHAM has distributed 7,928 assistive devices, and has employed about 300 PwDs in its plants at a National Level.
In 2018, the Foundation’s Chairperson Sarika Minda started a centre for Divyangs (PwDs) in Pune. The centre aims at providing prosthetic and orthotic assistance to over 250 PwDs annually, focusing on the employment of 150 PwDs, imparting them with skill through On Job Trainings or skilling, and also procuring a disability certificate by organizing a camp. Apart from these, linkages with government, hospitals, local NGOs, the gram panchayat bodies, local stakeholders are being planned and executed. The centre completed 195 fitments during 2018-19 and facilitated employment for 31 PwDs within the group itself. In 2019, the centre has provided 256 fitments and has aided employment of about 300 PwDs.
In the year 2015, Spark Minda Foundation held a fitment camp in Indonesia. This camp was held in collaboration with the company’s Indonesia branch, BMVSS, and the Indian embassy in Indonesia. The camp was held on the campus of PT Minda Automotive. There were a lot of people affected by disasters, war and accidents. In coordination with BMVSS and Yaysan Peduli Tuna Daksa (a local NGO), SMF benefitted 515 PwDs through 529 fitments conducted over the span of one month (4th May – 7th June). The camp was inaugurated in the presence of both the Ambassadors of the Nations.
Another 12-day fitment camp was conducted in Uttar Pradesh, in 2016, in partnership with MCL Noida. A lot of like-minded CSR firms joined hands and aided in carrying out mobilization in an area that spanned the periphery of 300km from Noida was covered. Through this, 1,154 fitments were accomplished benefitting 812 PwDs.
The Spark Minda Foundation conducted a camp in Vinh Phuc and Phuc Tho provinces in Vietnam from 17th July – 28th August, 2018. The camp was held in coordination with the Governments of India and Vietnam, Indian embassy in Vietnam, along with partners Jaipur Foot and Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahatya Samiti (BMVSS). Through this camp 533 PwDs were benefited with the required fitments and provision of assistive devices/aids.
Extending the partnership with the Indian Army, the Foundation conducted an Artificial limb Fitment Camp, in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir in September 2018. The main objective of the eight-day camp was to provide prosthetic and orthotic aid to persons with disabilities, with a view of enabling their future livelihoods and right of life. As Uri is a sensitive place, need assessment was facilitated by the Indian Army itself. PwDs were brought in from 17 different locations. 274 fitments were completed, reaching out to nearly 300 PwDs. Apart from the overwhelming response and the courteous facilitation by the Indian Army, the project resulted in 299 fitments.
A 7-day camp from 20th to 26th December 2019, was organized at Chimbali Phata, Pune. The idea behind this camp was to put up a one-stop facility for the persons with disability where they can avail benefits of free of cost assistive aids, job fair, and Unique Disability ID registration. The programme was organized in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPwD), Vishwa Yuva Kendra, Jaipur Foot and India Business & Disability Network (IBDN).
Aegis Global, Godrej-Agrovet, Sodexo, Sarovar Hotels, Accor Group, Accenture, and Cummins participated in the job fair. During the camp, 1335 assistive aids were given, and employment was facilitated to 120 persons with disability and 30 of them have been absorbed into the Spark Minda Group. 162 Unique Disability ID (UDID) registrations were facilitated during the camp.
2. Mindtree (L&T Group)
Mindtree, a Larsen & Toubro Group company, has partnered with the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) to create equal opportunities and an enabling work environment for people with disabilities. Every year, they identify 10, differently-abled people who are outstanding performers across India and felicitate them with the NCPEDP Mindtree Helen Keller award.
The inclusivity of differently-abled people is a crucial part of Mindtree’s charter, and the Mindtree Foundation is doing extensive work in developing technologies to assist them. In fact, when Mindtree was created 20 years ago, the first logo was designed by 17-year old Chetan, who has autism. As a tech company, Mindtree is trying to make the daily lives of PwD’s easier via assisted technologies.
Towards this, they have delivered two assistive technology products to Aravind Eye Hospitals in Madurai, Tamil Nadu:
a) Visual Intervention Kit with Analytics for Special children (VIKAS): VIKAS is an assorted collection of nine major exercises in 21 sub-exercises with 22 screens to redress cognitive visual dysfunction (CVD). CVD is vision impairment occurring due to damage to the brain where the eyes are able to see, but the brain is not able to process/ interpret what is being seen. CVD can be due to prematurity, structural/ functional damage to the brain, autism, cerebral palsy, etc. It can affect all aspects of educational, physical, social and emotional development.
b) Digital Nethra for Eye (DIGNI): This is an Android mobile application that reads the page of a printed book from a table-lamp-like structure, converts into audio and speaks it out through a headphone. This application performs optical character recognition (OCR) of text and converts text to voice. It reads the contents of the entire page (except the pictures). After a page is read, it prompts the user to turn the page.
3. Hero MotoCorp CSR initiatives
Hero ‘We Care’ makes a special effort in skilling the specially-abled in trades that ensure placement. In the last few years, hundreds of PwDs who have visual impairment, hearing or speech impairment and other such physical challenges have been gainfully employed after being skilled for free at a Centre of Excellence run by the company.
Hero MotoCorp CSR support to para-athletes has ensured that the country has had its largest-ever medal haul at Rio Paralympics 2016, World Para Athletics Championships London 2017, the Asian Youth Para Games 2017 in Dubai and 3rd Asian Para Games 2018 at Jakarta, Indonesia. Khelo Hero has supported about 300 para-athletes till date, making it among the top 3 CSR projects for specially-abled sportspersons in India.
4. GITS: Empowering differently-abled women
PwDs are subject to ridicule. The situation of PwDs further aggravates when it comes to women PwDs, who are seen as liabilities and hence are not treated with respect as their needs, are addressed based on the convenience of their family members. GITS, famous for making ready-to-eat foods, teamed up with NGO Helplife to empower female PwDs to lead a good life.
The CSR programme aims to empower and improve the quality of life of differently abled-women in Pune. Through the programme, different initiatives were undertaken to cater to the varying needs of the target group. The plan provides accommodation, food and clothing to differently-abled women and girls from economically backward communities. The recipients can continue their education and also undergo skill training in addition to computer and spoken English classes.
The women and girls stay for a duration of two-three years, during which they are also provided with counselling sessions along with their parents, and a regular support system throughout the training. Post completion of skill training, they are also offered placement support or help to start their own enterprise to make a living.
Community-based support was provided to finance livelihood generation activities undertaken by differently-abled women (and also men in some instances). The programme has had an outreach of 100 women with 80% of the girls being raduates or post-graduates. About 70% of the skill training girls are successfully employed with an average income of INR 12,000 per month, and around 60% of the women who received community-based support are successfully running their micro-enterprises. Nearly 70% of the total recipients are financially independent and 50% of them are supporting their parents and family. This has led to an immense change in the women and girls’ perspective to boost self-confidence.
5. KHS Group: Project for deaf-blind and MSIs
Deaf-blindness is identified as a different disability with varying degrees of hearing and visual impairment. Individuals with deaf-blindness and MSIs (multi-sensory impairments) also suffer from additional physical and medical conditions and hence experience extreme challenges in performing day-to-day activities. KHS Group worked with Sense India for the CSR programme being implemented in Ahmedabad. It aims to enable people with deaf-blindness and MSIs to reach and maintain their optimal (physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological and social) functional levels.
Through the plan, KHS provides educational and rehabilitation services for the PwDs and engages in capacity building of parents, family members and special educators through training. The project also sensitises government scheme Samagra Shiksha’s teachers and NGO members working in the field of disability in Gujarat. KHS collaborates with Deaf-blind Regional Centres (DbRC), to strengthen, expand and develop opportunities to ensure that a higher number of people with deaf-blindness can lead a good quality life.
The CSR project promotes community-based rehabilitation and inclusion of children and adults with deaf-blindness. The rehabilitation team comprises a special educator, vocational trainer, physiotherapist, and occupational and speech therapist.
Through various awareness sessions, the programme has led to enhanced sensitisation and advocacy for the rights and needs of people with deaf-blindness and MSIs. Over 180 special educators, 59 para-medical professionals, 28 Anganwadi workers and 30 NGO professions have undergone capacity building training in 2019. Approx. 241 teachers associated with the Samagara Shiksha mission have been trained for identification and inclusion of children with deaf-blindness in mainstream schools.
6. ANZ India CSR and volunteering
ANZ India provides 24 hour support, 6 days a week to ANZ Bank’s network across Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific, Europe & Americas. Not only is it an industry champion when it comes to equal opportunity at the workplace, it runs various CSR and volunteering initiatives for communities with disability. The company won the NCPEDP-Mind tree Helen Keller Award 2016 for being a ‘Role Model’ for championing the cause of persons with disabilities.
In 2015, ANZ partnered with Enable India to set up a 100-seater training institute for PwDs. The lab, built with the company’s contribution of INR 26.67 lakhs, helps to empower students with disabilities by providing them employability skills and industry-endorsed training programmes. ANZ is working towards creating a multiplier effect. Not only are they building an agile, outperforming organisation, they are also making an impact in the larger community that they represent.
In 2017, ANZ joined a 120-member strong network of disability NGOs, committing to the project Mission1000. Mission1000 focuses on inclusive employment as mandated in the GOI initiative, “Inclusive India”. This campaign aims to provide 1000 opportunities to persons with developmental, severe, and multiple disabilities in 1000 days. Under the initiative, ANZ has so far sensitised 931 people and provided 1365 opportunities. One ‘Opportunity’ equals one person getting training/exposure/employment. ANZ also organised a roundtable in partnership with Mission1000, wherein 35 organisations participated and discussed various initiatives and efforts. This helped in sharing best practices and helped more organisations in adopting Mission 1000.
7. Tech Mahindra: ARISE+ & SMART+
Tech Mahindra Foundation works with children and youth with disabilities in the areas of education and skill development. Activities under the disability programme focus on the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities.
ARISE+, or All Round Improvement in School Education, is a special programme which encompasses the Foundation’s work in the area of school education for Children with Disabilities. In 2018-19, ARISE+ programme reached and benefitted, approximately, 2500 students by providing chronic therapy as well as special education, to help them lead fulfilling lives. Working with diverse groups within the domain, the Tech Mahindra Foundation empowers Children with Disabilities, including sight impairment, hearing/ speech impairment, loco-motor disabilities, and a range of intellectual impairments across India.
The SMART+ programme was launched in 2013 to include Persons with Disabilities. A specially designed curriculum plus well-equipped classrooms enable effective communication in classrooms so as to enable Persons with Disabilities to learn. In the year 2018-19 SMART+ trained close to 1,477 (approximately) Persons with disabilities. The Foundation runs 11 SMART + centres at 8 locations – Benguluru, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai.