Come & be a part of a conversation on disability, inclusion & access at the Godrej Culture Lab!

Many people don’t know what to say to someone with a disability. They may panic, say the inappropriate thing, or worse ignore the person completely.

Such attitudes stand in the way of striking up conversations. These are barriers that prevent us from finding common interests that are so key to forming friendships.

The Freedom to be Flawed - Awkward Conversations around Disability, a Godrej India Culture Lab that will be held in Mumbai on 4 May 2018, is an attempt to enable such conversations.

The event, which is supported by Barrier Break and NewzHook, will focus on access, inclusion and disability for people with disabilities in India.

It’s a part of the larger curatorial focus on invisibalization which is the theme this year of all the events at the Godrej Culture Lab, says Parmesh Shahani, who heads it.

If you look at how we curate events, it is very much from a vantage point of looking at margins and the conversations that are not being had. But we look at that from the possibility from hope. The lens is that first have these conversations because able-bodied people and disabled people live side by side. We need to have these conversations about each other from the lens of learning and sharing – Parmesh Shahani, Head, Godrej Culture Lab

There is a serious lack of able-bodied people speaking to disabled people. The able-bodied are scared to talk to people with disabilities because they are worried that they will be incorrect or don’t care. The idea is to get people from the able-bodied and disabled worlds to come together and essentially talk – Kevin Lobo, Cultural Instigator, Godrej India Culture Lab

The panellists at the event are achievers who are bridging these worlds together through their work.

They include India’s first blind paragliding pilot, Divyanshu Ganatra, Kartiki Patel, who represents India in basketball and badminton, Nipun Malhotra, founder of Nipman Foundation, and activist Virali Modi, who has been fighting for accessibility in cities.

Opening the programme is Nidhi Goyal, a comedian with a visual disability, who has the rare gift of making her audience laugh and squirm!

The aim is to showcase and highlight superstars, be it in tech, or sports. Everyone should attend so they can learn and inspire. And also follow up in terms of integration in their family, or workplace, or colleges – Parmesh Shahani, Head, Godrej Culture Lab

A major focus of the event is on access, or rather the lack of it in India. Take the manner in which buildings and public transport are designed, for instance. They fail to take into consideration the needs of people with disabilities.

Like the bars on pavements to prevent bikers from riding on them. Few realize that they also make these pavements inaccessible for wheelchair users. Or the lack of lift buttons in Braille. Small changes that cost little but make a world of difference to someone with a visual impairment.

To build greater awareness and sensitization about access, the event has an exhibition space with a printer by Maker’s Asylum’s where you can print your name in Braille on a pendant. People without disabilities will get to experience the world from the perspective of a disabled person through games organized by Barrier Break.

More than 60% of our employees have a disability. We make sure that disabled employees are fully integrated into the workplace. These games are a part of our induction program to help employees without disabilities gain more insight into the needs of employees with disabilities and appreciate their abilities - Ramya Venkitesh, Head, New Initiatives, Barrier Break

As part of its efforts to keep the conversation going, the Godrej Culture Lab plans to revisit the theme of disability and inclusion regularly.

Such conversations will help promote a better understanding of disability and hopefully a change in societal awareness. These are key in empowering disabled people to make connections like everybody else.

So do spread the word and come with your friends and family.

To register for the event,

CLICK: Freedom to be Flawed: Awkward Conversations around Disability

Watch in Sign Language