Don't wait for the change. Become the change maker - My Take by Sameer Garg

In My Take this week, Sameer Garg, co-founder of BillionAbles, talks about the crowd sourced online platform that provides information on disabled-friendly places and services across India.

When I was 19 years old I met with an accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down. This happened in the 90s when there was a lot of gap when it came to accessibility and inclusion. There was no centralized database where one could get any information related to accessibility, and I was looking for such a platform.

Finally, I decided to start working on it myself. I researched many global apps that listed over 30,000 locations and had lakhs of reviews. PM Modi had also launched the Accessible India campaign. We came up with the idea to crowd source the info from the users themselves.

I believe there are two ways to sensitize. One is through awareness campaigns, of which there are many. I am doing it from a business point of view. If we sensitize businesses about how they are losing so many customers when they don’t reach out to the disabled, they will make their businesses accessible.

It took us over two years to convince people to support our idea. In India, there is a lot of appreciation for social initiatives, but not much support. We finally got an investor in 2016, developed the prototype, and won some competitions. In February 2017, we launched the website. We have over 3,500 users and have listed over 1,000 disabled-friendly places. We launched the app on 8 July.

Users can click pictures of any place and submit on the app. We will check for content and publish it. Our teams are out there on the ground to verify locations.

While listing a place, think of what other users might need, like what would a wheelchair-user look for. Think of access, features, pricing, and convenience. My message to the community is don’t wait for others to do initiate change. You have to be the change makers.

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