Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Wins the Special Jury NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award

5% GST on assistive devices must be revoked- Arman Ali.

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New Delhi: The winners of the 10th NCPEDP Mphasis Universal Design Award were awarded in the capital today at the hands of Rama Devi, sitting Member of Parliament and Dy Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

A total of 14 awards were given away. 

The Javed Abidi Public Policy Award was given to Ms.  Smitha Santhakumari Sadasivan, who has been consulting with Election Commission of India on the accessible electoral process for all citizens with disabilities, collaborating with Public Works Department (PWD), etc.

A special Jury Award was given to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, for its pioneering work in making television accessible to people with hearing disability. Working closely with representatives of the disability sector and experts in the area of accessibility; the Ministry has developed a robust policy to make television accessible using sign language and closed captioning.

Accepting the award, Shri Amit Khare, Secretary in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting said, “I’d like to acknowledge the work of Supriya Sahu, DG of Doordarshan and Atul Tiwari additional secretary towards this award. We have started streaming some programs on DD Bharati with ISL for the deaf. The next goal is to work our standards for the visually impaired. Also, public and private broadcasters must have the same standards, and these must be an example for the rest of the world.”

Presiding over the event, Hon Member of Parliament Rama Devi said “I congratulate the winners.  I would like to add sabka Vishwas to sabka saath, sab ka Vikas, the ideology that PM Modi has always spoken about.  Our PwDs must be encouraged; that’s why I’m here. We have to change the paradigm- parents must not feel sorry for giving birth to a child with a disability. We have to ensure they have access to independence and livelihoods. I want to encourage initiatives like the Universal Design Awards.”

The event began in memory of Prof. Shamnad Basheer, an Indian legal scholar who passed away on 8th August 2019. His work on increasing diversity by increasing access to legal education (IDIA) for persons with disabilities was appreciated at the event.

Arman Ali addressed the gathering and said, “ without accessibility, inclusion is impossible. Some of the ideas that have won this year are so futuristic that it gives us hope. We need to take the message to smaller towns and districts, that accessibility is beyond just building a  ramp.”

Nipun OS, AVP Corp Social Responsibility of Mphasis added: “we must scale up the innovations that have emerged today so that a large number of persons with disabilities can benefit.”

The complete list of winners is as follows-

Category A: Award for Persons with Disabilities

  1. Aneesh Karma (Bulandshahar, UP): As part of his work at BETiC lab IIT Bombay, Anish designed a knee ankle foot orthosis (MASC-KAFO), that provides improved gait for people with knee-extensor weakness. This device allows peoples with weak knees to walk, run, climb stairs or ride a bicycle.
  2. Nekram Upadhyay (New Delhi) developed an innovative assistive device called the MAK (May Ability Kit). This modular device is designed and tested to perform multiple activities for those who do not have had functions due to illness or injury.
  3. Rajesh Ketkar (Vadodara, Gujarat) started English literacy, digital literacy and life skill videos in Indian Sign Language (ISL) for the deaf and created accessible content on E-learning Centres.

Category B: Award for working Professionals

  1. Rajni Kant Singh (LEPRA Society, Bihar): developed several innovative appliances for people affected by leprosy, elephantiasis, podoconiosis, and diabetes. One of these innovations is the ‘Mobile Foot Care unit’ aimed to deliver protective footwear close to the patient’s location.
  2. Prashant Gade (Madhya Pradesh): designed a low-cost prosthetic arm, after three years of experimenting. Going through hardships during the project did not deter him and today nearly 1000 people in India are using his prosthetic arm.
  3. Kunal Prasaad (Maharashtra): creator of the XL Cinema app which has a specific feature called “AD Mode” or “AD MOVIES” giving access to content with audio description (AD) for the visually impaired. Currently, they have successfully tested proprietary glasses for a non- intrusive subtitling system.
  4. Ankita Gulati (New Delhi): developed a device called TouchVision which narrates the content in the picture when a visually impaired person touches it. A national award-winning scientist, Ankita chose assistive technology for her master’s thesis, which gave her the base to build this product.

Category C: Award for Companies/ Organisation

  1. Bleetech Pvt Ltd (Mumbai, Maharashtra): developed a wearable band that connects with the users’ Smartphone and converts sound signals to vibrations and visual notifications. They also curated BleeTV to access information and learning-based content in Indian Sign Language. Focusing on human-centric design solutions they have impacted the lives of 10,000+ hearing-impaired individuals across 15 States in India.
  2. SM Learning Skills Academy for Special Needs Private Limited (Gurgaon, Haryana): developed an online platform, CogniAble, available remotely for early screening and affordable behavioral intervention for autism and associated neurodevelopmental disorders. A non-expert can use the screening service at 25% of the cost from any remote location by submitting a video using the internet. The video is automatically analyzed by proprietary algorithms to make autism screening predictions.
  3. National Institute of Open Schooling (Noida): developed videos in sign language version for six subjects at the secondary level to provide educational access for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners. In all, 38 videos of about 2000 words and basic sentences have already been developed. An ISL dictionary is also available on their NIOS portal.
  4. Big Bazaar- Future Retail (Mumbai, Maharashtra): under the Project internally code-named ‘Sab Ke Liye’ which means, ‘for everyone; they have created 150 accessible spaces across the country, conducted 100+ sessions and undertaken massive sensitization drives to train every member of the 30,000 strong Big Bazaar family. They have also conducted India’s first Quiet Hour for people with autism across 23 stores pan India.
  5. Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited, (Bengaluru, Karnataka): They have developed MPAS, an assistive technology device created for the blind. One of the basic challenges that persons with visual impairment face to be effective in this job is to manage the Screen reader when they are on a phone call. MPAS provides a hands-free headset switch that helps you to interact on the phone call, and listen to a screen reader same time. MPAS device handles audio of various disconnected devices (Mobile, PC/Laptop and telephone) to a single headset, and provides an easy to use integrated solution.

Arman Ali summed up by saying, “Disability is not in the body.  The condition of helplessness, where information is not available, where access is not available- that is the disability.  I would also request that the 5% GST on any assistive device must be revoked.”

Arman Ali also requested the Hon Deputy speaker to actively take up matters relating to the disability sector.

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Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Wins the Special Jury NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award
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5% GST on assistive devices must be revoked- Arman Ali.
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The Policy Times