Technology March 20, 2020
Microsoft India & NASSCOM Foundation launch Innovate for Accessible India campaign
A nationwide challenge to empower disabled people has been announced by Microsoft India and NASSCOM Foundation. This is in partnership with the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology and National Research and Education Network (ERNET).
It’s called Innovate for Accessible India and it is nationwide innovation challenge that aims to empower people with disabilities with the technology and tools needed to integrate better in society as well as access opportunities on an equal footing. The initiative has been launched by Microsoft India and NASSCOM Foundation.
Innovate for Accessible India will be an aggregator of workable technology solutions developed using Microsoft Cloud, Artificial Intelligence and other technologies that address gaps faced by disabled people. The focus is on services and support in education, skill building, employment, mobility, rehabilitation and other government services.
Pan-India innovation challenge on assistive tech
Applications will be invited from students, citizens and social impact organisations to build customised solutions that address challenges faced by people with disabilities. This is across the 21 disabilities officially recognised under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. Developers will be encouraged to focus on areas that include mobility, e-governance and access, education, skilling and livelihood and health. Ideas can be sent to https://iai.nasscomfoundation.org/ before 15 April 2020.
With over a billion people around the world living with some form of disability, it is critical that we find new ways to use technology to enable everyone to fully participate in the socio-economic environment around us. Innovate for Accessible India presents an amazing opportunity to bring new ideas for building an inclusive future. We are very excited to partner on this effort and look forward to some ground-breaking ideas. – Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India
Applications will be screened by a jury made up of subject matter experts in cross-city pitch sessions. Ten ideas will be selected as the winning innovations. This will be followed by a six-month screening process and finalists will be supported for another six months to roll out their solutions in the market.
10 best solutions to get support
The 10 best solutions that address key challenges faced by people with disabilities will be provided mentoring support by Microsoft and NASSCOM Foundation, along with grants to develop and scale their solution. The winning innovations stand to win a grant of ₹ 10 lakh each. There will also be pilot testing with a group of more than 25 beneficiaries and a grant of ₹ 5 lakh each in the early stage category with a working prototype to be tested by less than 25 people.
Calling these exciting times where innovative tech solutions can make the world a better place for disabled people, Ashok Pamidi, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation, said, “We may soon be able to replace braille dots with electrostatic charges allowing the visually impaired to use touch screen smartphones; facial recognition software coupled with home assistants may now help reveal who else is in the room; sounds and vibrations may be used to tell if there is danger ahead and with IoT, the objects may soon be able to describe themselves. With Innovate for an Accessible India, we hope to capture all possible tech-based innovations that can make the lives of people with disabilities easier”.
The initiative is being supported by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology and National Research and Education Network (ERNET).
Speaking at the event, Shakuntala Gamlin, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, talked about the larger vision of the Accessible India Campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, “the Ministry will provide guidance and awareness to the program to keep it aligned to the disability policy framework and the department’s vision to empower persons with disabilities with equal access and opportunity.”
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