Changemaker Series is our blog series which will capture stories in the format of Q&A to introduce our thought leaders and changemakers to the wider society. These stories capture essence of inclusivity, accessibility & change especially focusing on persons with disability.

We got talking with Yeshwant Holkar, Founder, UMOJA and this is what he has to say about travel accessibility, change and our campaign approach.

What is accessibility to you?

Accessibility means many things to many people, but to me, accessibility is about exploring the amazing world we live in, unfettered by physical, communicative, or attitudinal barriers.

Your thoughts on Accessible India campaign

The Accessible India campaign is a landmark initiative by the Government of India to improve accessibility in our country.  Speaking to people who have worked in the disability sector for decades, this is the first time we are seeing this level of focus being applied to accessibility.  While the mission plan is ambitious, the approach is well thought out and engages both the public and private sector to work together towards this goal. The key will be implementation and follow through, and we’re very excited to contribute our part to this excellent initiative.

Tell us more about UMOJA

UMOJA is all about great accessible travel. On, we make sure people have the detailed and dependable information persons with disabilities need to find hotels that can meet their accessibility needs or preferences.

According to you, in what ways can local communities and people contribute to AIC?

Local communities are one of the most important parts of accessibility. It is only when local communities understand and support accessibility will real change happen. It’s about changing physical and attitudinal barriers, and that won’t happen unless the the local community buys in to it.

What expectations do you have from accessible India mobile app and portal?

We are excited to see peoples’ response to this app. The government is committed to solving peoples’ accessibility problems, so who better to point out those problems then the people themselves?  The app and portal will act as a fantastic way for the government to focus its efforts of making important areas accessible.

What do you think about travel accessibility? How do people with disability travel across India?

Currently traveling in India as a person with a disability is not easy, but things are definitely improving. Public transport is definitely a point to improve on and we’re glad that the Accessible India Campaign has focused on this a one of the three core focus areas. We’re encouraged by the rising private sector interest in accessibility and we can only see this trend continuing.

Lastly, your thoughts on importance of freedom & mobility for people with disability?

Freedom and mobility is incredibly important for all people.  What’s life without the ability to visit the people you love, see the places that intrigue you, or explore the cultures that fascinate you?

About Accessible India Campaign:

Accessible India Campaign is a nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility for people with disabilities by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities)

Follow us on twitter @MSJE_AIC and email to nominate a changemaker for our upcoming blog interviews.


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