Bengaluru-based Prateek Khandelwal’s ventures aim to promote inclusion & accessibility across India
In ‘My Take’ this week, Bengaluru-based Prateek Khandelwal, founder of ‘Ramp my City’ and ‘I Break the Barrier’ talks about the need to promote accessibility and inclusion. Prateek met with an accident a few years back after which he started using a wheelchair.
I was born and raised in Jaipur and came to Bengaluru to pursue my engineering studies. I worked with MNC Infosys for a while. In May 2014, I had my own business. I was working at a construction site. So while walking down the stairs, I fell down from the second floor which injured my spinal cord. Ever since then, I have been using a wheelchair. My parents moved with me to Bengaluru post the accident. So I have been living in the city ever since.
Venturing into the accessibility space
After the accident, I was in social isolation for a while. It is more like you are undergoing a lockdown during that phase. But then I started going out wanting to be a part of the community. In fact, I wanted to show the world that I’am the same person even after an accident. I realized I couldn’t go out anywhere due to inaccessibility. For instance, there were steps at most buildings owing to which a wheelchair user needed help to enter and exit. All spaces were inaccessible for not just people with disabilities but also the elderly.
“It was not just eateries. But malls, parks, ATM’s, railway stations and airports were all inaccessible. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest problems that India is facing today. It is high time that society understands that people with disabilities face a lockdown every single day of their life due to this”.
So I decided to step up and become part of the solution.
Founding ‘Ramp my City’
It was in the year 2018 that I started ‘Ramp my City’ to create accessibility in restaurants, mainly to get portable ramps. I completed ten restaurants in four months. But when I went to see them, they weren’t designed properly. The measurements were wrong.
But most importantly, restaurant staffs lacked any awareness about disabilities due to which they weren’t able to communicate or reach out to a customer with disability. For instance, they did not know how to assist a wheelchair user to a washroom. No training was given.
So I started by doing two things. I provided design solutions. Since I had my own vendor, I could design ramps. Secondly, I trained staff to provide end to end services.
“Ramps are just beginning of providing accessibility in buildings. So much more is needed to make a building fully accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities. People needed solutions and I wanted to give professional advice”.
Promoting accessibility through ‘I Break the Barrier’
I Break the Barrier (IBTB) was started in the year 2019. We are a social enterprise that provide end to end solutions for accessibility. We started covering more spaces through IBTB. “We are doing it professionally since I don’t believe in doing charity when it comes to such services”.
Both IBTB and ‘Ramp my City’ are my start-up companies. “My main idea is to make India accessible and inclusive. Society must understand that accessibility is not a privilege but a service that is need of the hour. We are the solution”.
Watch in Sign Language
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