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This Bengaluru centre is empowering the disabled towards independence

It is said that human spirit is one of ability, perseverance and courage that no disability can steal away. A little nudge in the right direction, however, is always welcome.

Few disabled given opportunities in IT workforce

According to a study by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People, NCPDEP, of the 70 million disabled people in India, only 0.1 million are a part of the workforce in industries. A ray of hope in this grim situation is the Centre of Excellence for Persons with Disabilities.

The centre is a skills training initiative by the NASSCOM Foundation and Conduent Business Services India, that is working towards sensitising the IT sector about disability and its challenges, as well as empowering people with disabilities so they can secure a spot with top names in the industry and move forward towards a flourishing career.

Over 60 people with disabilities placed in companies

So far they have counselled about 250 job seekers with disabilities, trained 111 and placed 63 in leading IT companies in Bengaluru in just nine months. Most of them are people who are deaf or speech impaired or have mobility challenges.

Joji Mammer from Kerala is a finance graduate, but he found that potential employers were more concerned about his hearing disability than skill. "I would go to these interviews and they wouldn't even bother with questions. It was a straight 'no'."

"I would go to these interviews and they wouldn't even bother with questions. It was a straight 'no'

Joji, who was born to deaf parents, has been disabled from birth. "I was never good with interviews and I did not understand what I was doing wrong. During the training, we actually had mock interviews, peer discussions and interactions with people from the IT sector. The fear was gone".

Joji is now employed with the State Street Corporation, a US- based investment management banking company, and was one of the star speakers at the first year anniversary celebration of Centre of Excellence for Persons with Disabilities at Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Rohit from Tamil Nadu, who works with retail giant Amazon, echoed similar emotions. "My family is very poor. Whatever skills I had were not enough. As it is you are behind because of your disability and it continues even after your education." Rohit is hearing impaired as well.

Rohit's batchmates have been placed in CISCO, Equitas, Infrahedge Services, Vindhya Infomedia and Synchrony Financial.

"No one is doing a favour by employing a person with disability! They are being hired because they are qualified for it," said a jubilant Mr.P Rajashekharan, founder of V-shesh, a training partner for the initiative. "This is a step forward, towards a functional system without disability bias."

"This is a step forward, towards a functional system without disability bias."

The job seekers, or students, as they are fondly called at the centre, go through a comprehensive program that teaches them skills in mathematics, accounts, computer usage, business development and communication that includes grammar as well as written English.

"The greatest challenge is that once they graduate, they have low skills that lead to low wages, which in turn only increases disability bias. It is a vicious cycle and it can be broken by knowledge," adds Rajashekharan.

The initiative is a one of its kind for the empowerment of the disabled in the corporate employment sector.

This report for NewzHook has been filed by Priyam Chhetri from Bengaluru.

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