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National Ability Summit: A platform for disability inclusion

Participants at the National Ability Summit Christopher Patnoe, Head of Accessibility Programme & Disability Inclusion, Google (USA), Shonali Bose, Indian Film Director & Producer, Margarita with a Straw & The Sky is Pink (India), Dr. Sameer Parikh, Director, Fortis National Mental Health Program, Fortis Healthcare (India), Ira Singhal, Stephanie Thomas, Varija Bajaj, Rachel Arfa, City of Chicago, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (USA)

Over 30 speakers from India and across the globe will be taking part in the virtual event that aims to draw a 360 degree approach to address physical and mental health for the global community at large

By Puja Gupta

November 19, 2020 (IANSlife) According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Disability Report, one billion people or 15 percent of the world's population experience some form of disability. Although, there is no recent census on disability data available in India for this population of society, WHO estimates that disability prevalence is higher than 15 percent in developing countries. Post COVID-19, the disability numbers are expected to increase.   

Isolation, fear and loss of income is triggering mental health concerns. Physical mobility is restricted due to repeated lockdowns. Therefore digital accessibility and assistive technology have become necessary more than ever before. Defining abilities and reskilling for employment of persons with disabilities is going to be the key not just for inclusion but also economic generation. Sensitisation and awareness through films, media and community support can accelerate the efforts in disability inclusion.  

VARIJA LIFE, under Varija Bajaj is a Not for Profit Organisation, is organising National Ability Summit (NAS) - a virtual international conference for disability awareness in order to stir up action for an inclusive global society.  

The main objective of the Summit is to provide a platform to world leaders from government bodies, educational institutions, health institutions, private and public sector to share their learning curve and collectively draw a 360-degree approach to address physical and mental health for the global community at large.  

"I wish to mobilise the influencers across sectors, policy makers and even people's perception towards people with special needs. It is not a matter of special privilege but basic human rights and dignity of life," says Bajaj. 

The event will see speakers from around the world on live panel discussions on social media platforms spanning over two days.  

The summit will address Employment and Human Resource for People With Disabilities (PWD), Assistive Technology, Mental Health, Adaptive Clothing, Art and Films for and by PWD, Digital Accessibility, Infrastructural Accessibility and Startups focusing on mental and physical needs of PWD. 

Rachel Arfa, City of Chicago, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (USA), who will be participating in the summit, says: "I am honored to be invited to participate in the National Ability Summit and work with global partners on sharing resources and working together to make our world a more accessible one for all people with disabilities,”  

James Lebrecht, Co-Director of Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, Executive Producers President Barack Obama & Michele Obama (USA),  will also be taking part in the event.  

“I’m looking forward to a new day, where when we see people with disabilities in films, that we’re there not because we are the tragic or inspirational character, but because we are simply a natural part of life and society. That is authentic. This would be an important step towards eliminating the harmful stigma - that unrelenting burden - that we all face in the disabled community,” he says.  

Other participants at the National Ability Summit include Christopher Patnoe, Head of Accessibility Programme & Disability Inclusion, Google (USA), Nikki Hind, Australia's 1st Blind Fashion Designer (Australia), Shonali Bose, Indian Film Director & Producer, Margarita with a Straw & The Sky is Pink (India), Michele Clopper, Director Of Disability Resource, Harvard University (USA), Dr. Sameer Parikh, Director, Fortis National Mental Health Program, Fortis Healthcare (India), Tasneem Raja, Lead Mental Health, Tata Trusts (India), Balendu Sharma Dadhich-Localisation & Accessibility, Microsoft (India) among others.  

 

 

 

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Puja Gupta can be contacted puja.g@ians.in