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Hackathon to create accessible toilets for people with disabilities

As part of its Swachh Bharat Mission, the government of India is hosting a unique two day initiative called the 'San-Sadhan Hackathon'. The two day event is to be held on 14 September and 15 September in Delhi.

The aim of the Hackathon is to bring various stakeholders, designers, researchers, businesses, students, innovators at one platform. They are expected to come up with ideas to make toilets accessible for people with disabilities using their expertise, imagination and the technology of modern times.

Dr Riitesh Sinha, an innovator from Karnal, Haryana, has cerebral palsy and feels the toilet design should be accessible for various disabilities to make them truly inclusive.

"This is a very good initiative by the Government of India which will ease the life of disabled people across India for their essential needs which have not even been thought of, and which leads to their exclusion from so many events and travels due to inaccessible toilets. This will increase their participation in society for everything and will help them achieve more success and satisfaction in their lives."

Shortage of accessible toilets is a major hurdle for people with disabilities in India. Whether it is in public places, buildings, schools, trains or restaurants, being able to access a basic amenity like an accessible toilet is challenge for the disabled population of India.

Nisha Gupta is a wheelchair basketball player and has to take up a lot of traveling for tournaments and championships.

Not being able to access a toilet that suits a wheelchair user like me is always a concern whenever I am travelling. There are several people who have bladder issues due to spinal cord injuries. What may seem like a minor issue to people without disabilities is quite crucial for people with disabilities. - Nisha Gupta, Wheelchair basketball player

Most public toilets are not made with any consideration about the needs of people with disabilities and end up being inaccessible. Lack of ramps, high basins, missing rails and many such basic features make a simple act of using the loo a challenge for disabled people.

This makes the San-Sadhan Hackathona much needed initiative.

Nipun Malhotra, CEO, Nipman Foundation calls this initiative an excellent one. "Innovation to make life easier for Persons with Disabilities should be encouraged and I hope this is the first of many steps."

The Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DePwD), in collaboration with Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationand 91springboard have come together to organise the Hackathon. Participants have to come up with ideas for smart, feasible and sustainable designs. First and second prize winners will get cash prizes of ₹ 2 lakh and ₹ 50,000.

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