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Workshop on disability confidence at the workplace brings together key stakeholders

India has over one crore disabled people who are employable, a mostly untapped resource thus far. There has been talk about changing this for some years now but the efforts have been scattered and piecemeal.

With the RPWD Act, 2016 coming into effect, this has acquired new momentum, with many companies seriously looking into setting up a system in place to enable greater inclusion.

The National Action Plan aims to train 25 lakh youth by 2022. For that to happen, there has to be greater sensitization and mapping of disability specific job roles in the industry.

In a step towards enabling this, the Department for International Development (DFID), UK government, Skill Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPwD), Government of India and v-shesh, an impact enterprise working towards empowering PwD for jobs, held a workshop in New Delhi this week.

Called #DisabilityConfidence at Workplace, the workshop saw the participation of companies and employers from different sectors like IT, banking and retail, to name a few. There were disabled people working in the corporate sector present as well to put forth the perspective of employees.

The conversation around inclusion at the workplace started over five years ago. With the Act in place, there is a greater sense of urgency. Earlier, everyone was aware of the importance of inclusion. Now, there is definitely more enthusiasm about making it happen. It is a boardroom discussion for most organizations today. - P Rajasekharan, Co-founder, v-shesh

Key areas of focus included the kind of barriers disabled people face in getting hired, how HR practices could benefit with RPWD Act 2016, as well as the range of equal opportunities and good practices.

The emphasis was on addressing the barriers and not the disabilities.

"Things like conducting accessibility audits, job roll mapping, keeping data of disabled employees were among the things that was discussed", said one of the participants. "There were also concerns raised relating to the right kind of job mapping, as well as the right way to do it. Another concern was identifying disabled people with the right talent with the right kind of interview questions".

Anup K Srivastava, CEO, ScPwD dwelt on the important role that disabled people could play in skilling people from the community. "There is also a need to create an inclusive work culture with accessibility and acceptability."

Disability leaders present at the workshop shares insights on the challenges faced by the community. Among them was Zorin Singha, Former President, National Association of the Deaf.

"I spoke about the challenges deaf people face in accessing education infrastructure which culminates into high drop-out rates and limited opportunities for mainstreaming in the future."

The presence of over 25 corporates at the session is a sign that talk of inclusion has gone beyond lip service. DFID plans to organize focused workshops like these across various states of India and targeting more sectors. This will go a long way towards ensuring greater awareness and sensitization among employers when it comes to hiring people with disabilities.

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