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Understanding Impact of COVID-19 on Persons with Disabilities

Sarthak Educational Trust and National Abilympics Association of India flagged off- Dhristikone: Level up Strategy 2020 for Disability Empowerment to initiate a dialogue with national and international leaders and give an impetus on required initiatives to empower the disability sector since the pandemic stuck. In tandem with the movement towards disability inclusivity, the webinar on Global Impact of COVID 19 on Persons with Disabilities and the CSR Roadmap for upscaling disability ecosystem was held on September 25, 2020.

During lockdown phase, Sarthak has imparted online therapy session for 350 children with special needs, skill building training to 2500 persons with disabilities and job placements to 800 divyang community.

The day-long event saw participation from several dignitaries from across the world like Sharmeen Kutky, VP Corporate Citizenship, Credit suisse, Marcie Roth, CEO, World Institute on Disability, Alfonso Lara Montero, CEO, European Social Network, Sarbani Chakbarty (Director, CII) Rajshree Natarajan, CEO, Cognizant Foundation Anurag Pratap, Sr. Director and Head CSR- Capgemini and Lt. Gen SM Mehta, CEO, The Hans Foundation along with several other dignitaries. The event saw participation from noted speakers from renowned corporates like, Accenture India, Deque Software Pvt Ltd, PwC India, Lemon Tree Group, Axis Bank, Ambit Capital and more.
“People with disabilities can positively contribute to the national economy if they are provided with right resources and adequate opportunities to build themselves,” expressed Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, Founder CEO, Sarthak Educational Trust. He shared, “Due to COVID-19 restriction, many people with disabilities who operated small businesses, corporate jobs or other informal livelihood ventures (i.e home cell phone repair or machine repair shops, selling goods, etc.) are unable to work and there is a significant loss of income.”
The event thus put a spotlight on the aftermath of COVID on their personal and professional front and further deliberation on other vital aspects such as inclusion of PwDs at work place, post-COVID survival and revival packages, counseling services, skill-building, newer opportunities, work from home model, CSR expenditure, innovation and technology.”
The highlight of the event was the global leaders working in the field of disability empowerment coming together for the session on ‘Global Impact of COVID 19 on disabled community’. The session threw light on the best practices adopted by international stakeholders to strengthen the disability sector during a pandemic and the revival packages adopted by corporates on international grounds during this ongoing economic disruption.
Limited access to resources, emergency response & relief system to persons with disabilities, basic needs of the pwds at grassroot level, need of expansive data at domestic and global level, use of technology and social media as an enabler to share your stories, ability to convert obstacles in opportunities for the PWDs by having faith in yourself, job opportunities for locomotive disabilities in Covid times, focused collaborations for working towards disability empowerment and addressing racial discrimination by multi-disciplinary committee were the common concerns raised by the panelists. “Joint research on adverse effects of persons with disabilities during Covid times globally, technology adoption through partnerships will bring a change towards work on disability inclusion globally,” said Marcie Roth, CEO, World Institute on Disability.
Persons with disability in India face many challenges in gaining meaningful employment. It is a mandate for Government organizations to have 3% of the total work force reserved for people with disabilities but NCPEDP survey says it is at 0.05% of total workforce which is all time low.
Through its Early Intervention and Inclusive Education initiative Sarthak has rehabilitated 1500 and 425 children with disability respectively previously. During the pandemic Sarthak has provided training towards 2500 Pwds and placement for 800 PWDs. Around 350 free of cost therapies have been imparted during lockdown by Early Intervention Team virtually for online therapeutic interventions, Home based activities, Psychoeducation to parents of CWSN suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders like Autism, Down syndrome, Intellectual disability, hearing Impairment, speech and language deficits and learning disability.
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