#InclusionChamps – Sabke Liye initiative wins Future Retail Limited national disability award
From the big picture to small touches, Future Retail Limited's consistent efforts to enable people with disabilities to shop independently won them the 2019 NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Awards. In our profile of this year's winners, we look at how the group is making the world a better place for everyone.
Mainstreaming inclusion across India is not easy and for a major corporate to do it consistently and successfully is quite incredible. Future Retail Limited is leading the pack in the space of inclusive shopping with the Sabke Liye programme, making them worthy winners of winning the national disability award for 2019. With their efforts, they have not just changed lives for the better but are setting a benchmark for other corporates.
And who could be a more befitting person to receive the NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Award 2019 on behalf of the group than Devanshi Joshi, an employee of Big Bazaar, with Down syndrome.
In a powerful acceptance speech, Devanshi thanked the disabled community for making Sabke Liye a success and underlined the need to find ways to make the community visible.
We are grateful to NCPEDP and Mphasis for recognising us for championing the cause. I am happy to see that all of us are focussed around strategies for an inclusive customer experience. I am also happy to see that the typical customer experience has been expanded to cater to new disabilities also, invisible disabilities. We at Big Bazaar would like to thank shoppers with disabilities who ventured out of their comfort zones and shopped for the first time in their lives, Independently. For those of you, who have still not ventured outside, let's enjoy this world, because shopping is for Sabkeliye. - Devanshi Joshi, Employee, Big Bazaar
Devanshi added that real awareness would come about only when people with disabilities are visible in public spaces. "The visibility creates awareness among the masses. Being able to go out freely gives a sense of independence and autonomy among the differently-abled people like me. Together, we are on a mission to mainstream inclusion across the nation."
Sabke liye in every way
And it is truly a mission that aims to address accessibility from every aspect, be it entry ramps to shopping assistants to special sale days for people with disabilities. Of special note is the Quiet Hour for people with autism and their families. Every Tuesday, the opening hours at 23 Big Bazaar and FBB stores are dedicated to people on the spectrum to enable them to enjoy sensory friendly shopping.
The significance is huge given how intimidating the shopping experience can be for people with disabilities and their families. FRL has made over 150 Big Bazaar and FBB stores accessible to persons with disabilities. The stores provide a shopping assistant who is trained to communicate with persons with disabilities. There's a priority counter that makes billing easy for the persons with disabilities.
As Som Mittal, Chairman, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) put it at the ceremony, "Accessibility is the bedrock of a disabled person's empowerment… No access means no freedom as far as we are concerned".
Not providing access, said Dr. Meenu Bhambhani, Vice President & Head - Corporate Social Responsibility, Mphasis disempowers the community in ways we cannot even comprehend. "When we don't provide access, we compromise the vast potential of persons with disability; Easy and convenient access to not only public places but also technology, services and products is what will empower the disabled in the truest sense".
Sabke Liye is changing the customer landscape in India and will hopefully inspire other companies to follow, hopes Devanshi. "All the winners are working to improve accessibility in different ways and for different groups. And we hope our efforts will encourage many others to also walk the same path".
PROFILES OF OTHER WINNERS:
Watch in Sign Language
- Visually impaired kids discover India’s new map & create art works thanks to TouchVision, a Children’s Day treat!
- Tiruvarur railway station now has an exclusive parking lot for disabled people
- Improving Lives Foundation’s unique project will make nonacademic books accessible for visually impaired children