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India Takes Strides Towards World Accessibility Day

In a historic move, India is witnessing the emergence of a momentous movement, spearheaded by the leading accessibility organization Svayam. Teaming up with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and a network of 20 NGOs, Svayam is embarking on a bold journey to establish March 27th as World Accessibility Day. This groundbreaking initiative aims to draw attention to the critical importance of inclusive environments and assistive technologies for a significant portion of the population.

Scheduled to take place at ICMR, New Delhi on March 27th, 2024, the event seeks to address the pressing need for accessibility across India. With an estimated 26.8 million people living with disabilities and 104 million individuals aged 65 and above facing mobility constraints, the call for concerted efforts is undeniable. Despite these challenges, India currently lacks a designated day dedicated to accessibility. The establishment of such an occasion holds the potential to catalyze unified action and focused initiatives aimed at enhancing accessibility nationwide.

At the event, 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, echoed sentiments of unity and empowerment. He affirmed a commitment to an inclusive future, stating, “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.”

Gathering at the esteemed platform of ICMR, New Delhi, a convergence of visionaries and change-makers championed accessibility as a fundamental right for all individuals. Discussions centered around the pivotal role of accessibility and assistive devices in fostering a truly inclusive society, particularly for Viksit Bharat. Svayam, in collaboration with NDFDC and 20 NGOs spanning across 35 districts in 10 states, fervently advocated for the global recognition of March 27th as World Accessibility Day.

During the discourse, Dr. Ravinder Singh, Senior Scientist at ICMR, expressed 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.”

Reflecting on the noble cause, Ms. Sminu Jindal, Founder-Chairperson of Svayam, highlighted the profound impact of declaring March 27th as World Accessibility Day. 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 of HEAL Foundation, underscored the importance of celebrating World Accessibility Day as a milestone to focus on the need for accessibility. He emphasized that access to healthcare communication is a fundamental human right, particularly with over a billion people living with disabilities.

The spirit of World Accessibility Day on March 27th resonates with 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.

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