New Delhi: The winners of the 10th NCPEDP Mphasis Universal Design Award have been announced. NCPEDP is the country’s premier cross-disability, not-for-profit organisation working as an interface between Government, Industry, International Agencies and the Voluntary Sector towards empowerment of persons with disabilities.
The jury for the prestigious award comprised Som Mittal, Chairman, NCPEDP, Srikanth Karra, CHRO, Mphasis, Shilpi Kapoor, CEO, Barrier Break and Dr. Shilpa Das, Head PhD Research Programme, National Institute of Design.
“This is the tenth year of Universal Design Awards and we are encouraged to see very innovative scalable initiatives in this space. We are also witnessing of newer organizations/citizens coming forward and joining the cause of creating an accessible India. These stories are inspiring, and I applaud each one of them for their conscious efforts”- Som Mittal, Chairman NCPEDP
Srikanth Karra, Chief Human Resources Officer, Mphasis says, “Over the years, accessibility has come to occupy the most identifiable cause that has unified the global approach towards disability – across social, political and economic lives of people with disabilities.”
Speaking on the award given to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Arman Ali, Executive Director of NCPEDP added, “We would like to appreciate the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in playing a proactive role on accessibility and setting an example for other Ministries’ to follow. Its high time people acknowledge that persons with disabilities are not secondary citizens; we have every right to seamless access to all kinds of information. I would also like to congratulate all the winners of the NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award 2019; your involvement towards this cause makes our efforts worthwhile”.
The complete list of winners is as follows-
Category A: Award for Persons with Disabilities
1. Aneesh Karma (Bulandshahar,UP): 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 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 behavioural intervention for autism and associated neuro-developmental 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 sensitisation drives to train each and 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
The Javed Abidi Public Policy Award for Universal Design
Winner: Ms Smitha Santhakumari Sadasivan (Kerala): Disability Rights Activist-
Smitha is a disability rights activist with Multiple Sclerosis and has been working with the Government on enabling accessible infrastructure, information & services and adopting policies for the same. She has been consulting with Election Commission of India on accessible electoral process for all citizens with disabilities, collaborating with Public Works Department (PWD) etc;
Special Jury Award to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
The Ministry of I&B has received a Special Jury Award for its pioneering work in making television accessible to people with hearing disability. Working closely with representatives of 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.