Javed Abidi – Tribute by Shilpi Kapoor, Founder, BarrierBreak, 247 Accessible Documents, NewzHook
Today, in our series of tributes to late disability rights leader, Javed Abidi, Shilpi Kapoor, Founder, BarrierBreak, 247 Accessible Documents and NewzHook, talks about his contribution to the disability rights movement in India.
As they say in life there are very few people that you meet who are your true friends and that was really what Javed Abidi was for me. He and I have worked together for the last 10 years in the space of disability, but beyond that I think what we really were, were the great friend to each other. I have yet to meet somebody who was so passionate about disability.
I remember the first time I met him when he was straight out asked me “Why should I work with you? I don’t even know you.” And when I told him that the problem that people with disabilities were going to face as more and more technology was going to be adopted, his answer to me initially was, “But nobody else has told me about it”. But finally, after a day of thinking about it he actually sat down and said – “Let’s work on this. I don’t know about other people, but I believe we are going to take this forward”.
The last 10 years have been one rollercoaster. Whether it was working on the guidelines for the Indian Government websites, working on the National Policy on Electronic Universal Accessibility, or even today working on Accessible Television guidelines, it was always, you know, part where he had this passion that he had to make it happen. He just had to get people included. It didn’t matter what it took out of him. It didn’t matter how he had to fight the system but what was really important to him was ‘Let’s make this happen’.
He always knew what his good things were and what were his challenging areas were. It was amazing how he kept some great people around him you know to help him, advise him. He took people along with him. I yet have to meet somebody like him in the disability sector. I know we all had differences with him, but I also know that above all he never stopped thinking about each and every person out there with or without a disability. And he wanted to take everybody along.
I really hope and pray that NCPEDP, as well as all of us, can take his vision ahead. I think that’s the need of the hour. He has set the right stage for all of us. He has given us the RPWD Act, he has given us so many different methods of advocacy and lobbying. He has taught so many people in the disability sector whether it was through DRG, or NDN or you know the National Council that he has set up.
It’s really, really critical that each of us comes together not only in Delhi but also in all the different states to see his vision move ahead. I for one would love to help each and every one out there to make his vision come true.