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 Meera Shenoy, Founder, Youth4Jobs and this is what she has to say about employment, accessibility and our campaign approach.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility means everyone should be able to access everything – be it a place or technology. Everyone should have a level playing field. No section of the population should be at a disadvantage due to inaccessibility or lack of research & development.
Tell us more about Youth4Jobs
I started Youth4Jobs three years back to motivate, train and place youth with disabilities in the organised sector jobs. In this process, we help companies build an inclusive workforce. We have achieved scale as we leveraged our vast background in skilling underprivileged youth in the government and with multilateral funders. We have 18 centres dedicated to youth with disabilities in 9 states and we are growing. With our growth, several new industries and companies have begun to hire people with disabilities for the first time. The work is challenging yet transformational.
How can communities support accessible India campaign?
Deep set attitudes are the heart of the problem. This work cannot be done alone. Civil society members and rotary clubs should volunteer to help change attitudes towards the disabled in society. This can begin by addressing schools. Similar to gender sensitization, if through fun and games, we can sensitive school children, a shift in attitudes will take place.
What can youth the youth do to solve the problem of accessibility?
Youth can act as ambassadors in their colleges/educational institutions/place of work for advocacy and changing attitudes towards disability
What is your take on Accessible India mobile application?
Currently, India has 185 million mobiles and most of them access internet through the mobiles. This is expected to increase to 600 million by 2025 i.e. 60%-70% of our population from the current 7-8%. Apart from crowd-sourcing information, an app which is accessbile in nature should help in spreading right the message on the fact that charity begins at home.
About work place accessibility:
Work place accessibility allows persons with disability to work and be productive. From our work and third party studies, it is clear there is a business case for companies hiring people with disability. They work harder and are loyal employees. So attrition is reduced and there is an increase in productivity and hence business of the company hiring people with disability. Companies benefit in brand value due to their ‘good for society’ approach.
Tell us more about your upcoming book?
This book is in the inspirational genre and part of my journey where I have interacted with entrepreneurs and CEOs. The launch is planned in January 2016. More on this later.
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)