India Pushes for World Accessibility Day: Svayam Leads Collaborative Effort with ICMR

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A momentous movement is gaining traction in India, with the leading accessibility organization, Svayam, taking a bold step towards establishing March 27th as World Accessibility Day. Partnering with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and a network of 20 NGOs, Svayam is spearheading a national campaign to highlight the critical need for inclusive environments and assistive technologies for a significant portion of the population. This groundbreaking initiative seeks to declare March 27 as ‘World Accessibility Day’, highlighting the importance of accessibility and inclusion for all.

The event, scheduled at ICMR, New Delhi on 27th March 2024, addressed the pressing need for accessibility in India. With an estimated 26.8 million people living with disabilities and 104 million aged 65 and above facing mobility constraints, the need for concerted efforts is evident. Despite these challenges, India lacks a designated day dedicated to accessibility. Establishing such an occasion could catalyse unified action and focused initiatives to enhance accessibility nationwide.

Addressing the event, and resounding the sentiments of unity and empowerment, Mr Rajesh Aggarwal, Secretary of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DePwD) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, affirmed to an inclusive future, saying, “The era demands accessibility for all, not as a luxury but as a fundamental requirement. Let us stand together, bridging gaps and empowering every individual towards a dignified life.”

On the honourable platform of ICMR, New Delhi, a convergence of visionaries and change-makers gathered to champion accessibility as a fundamental right for all individuals. Addressing the critical need for declaring ‘World Accessibility Day – 27 March’, discussions centred around the pivotal role of Accessibility and Assistive Devices in fostering a truly inclusive society, especially for Viksit Bharat. Svayam, in collaboration with NDFDC and 20 NGOs spanning across 35 districts in 10 states, advocates fervently for the global recognition of 27th March as the World Accessibility Day.

During the discussion, Dr Ravinder Singh, Senior Scientist at ICMR, showed his alignment with the ethos of inclusivity and emphasized the imperative of creating healthcare environments that are inherently accessible. He asserted, “Accessibility is the cornerstone of Viksit Bharat. We are also dedicated to empowering future healthcare professionals with the values of universal accessibility.”

Expressing her ardour for this noble cause, Ms. Sminu Jindal, Founder-Chairperson of Svayam, reflected on the profound impact of declaring ‘World Accessibility Day – 27 March’. She exclaimed, “Accessibility is not a privilege but a birthright for all. Let the barriers crumble, and opportunities flourish equally for every individual. Together, with our dedicated partners, we stand united to forge a barrier-free future”.

Dr Swadeep Srivastava, Founder, HEAL Foundation, added, “Celebrating World Accessibility Day is an important milestone to bring to focus the need for accessibility. Let us recognize that access to healthcare communication is not a privilege but a fundamental human right. With over a billion people living with disabilities, it’s imperative that we ensure all digital health platforms are universally accessible.”

The spirit of ‘World Accessibility Day – 27 March’ resonates with the essence of care, empathy, and progress. This day stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating the transformative power of assistive technologies, devices, and collective efforts in nurturing a world where barriers are but a distant memory.