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Equitable Access for the Disabled
‘A world in which people with disability are an integral part of society’ is the dream of AADI, a Delhi-based NGO
 
“What makes me different is not the way I am but the way you look at me.” How many of us are able to understand this appeal from every differently-abled child we meet? Most people don’t think beyond the fact that a disabled child needs able-bodied adults to care for him/her. Is this enough? Isn’t it just as important to ensure equitable access to opportunities and services for the disabled so that they can be absorbed into the society as an integral part? Ensuring this is the mission of Action for Ability Development and Inclusion (AADI); the acronym means ‘beginning’ in Sanskrit.
 
This beginning was made in 1978, when a group of young women in New Delhi came together to set up a special school for children with neuro-muscular disorders. There was an acute shortage of services for such children those days. Sure enough, by 1980, there were waiting lists for admission to the school, so the group set up a ‘Home Management Service’ to help families and care-givers meet their needs. By 1981, the group was linking up with primary health centres to expand its reach. By 1984, it had set up the School of Rehabilitation Sciences to train special educators and therapists. 
 
Set up as a small school for children with cerebral palsy, the group soon expanded its reach and scope as an organisation working for the rights of people with disability with a focus on working at the grassroots. After considerable progress and a lot of introspection, AADI was formally registered in 2002. Sushmita Nundy was the founder chairperson of AADI and she passed away about a year ago.
 
“Apart from Delhi, the reach of our services extends to working with a community in Ballabgarh (Haryana) and Alwar (Rajasthan),” says G Syamala, executive director, AADI, who is involved in its day-to-day activities. The rural arm of AADI is headquartered in Dayalpur (Haryana). 
 
“We also work with children with impairment who are out of school by facilitating a process of learning through bridge programmes and ensuring their admissions to local neighbourhood schools of parents’ choice,” point out AADI staff members.
 
At an individual level, AADI’s work includes skill development in the areas of mobility, communication, self-care; facilitating training in pre-school/primary and/higher education; skill development/occupation and employment; accessing and facilitating legal support and mental health services and providing individualised technological support. 
 
AADI is fortunate to have a well-trained and committed team of over 100 professionals and volunteers. It is funded through specific grants, including a miniscule grant from the government, and donations. It also undertakes its own fund-raising initiatives. The annual expenditure at AADI is approximately Rs3 crore.
 
The work involved is not just charity and help. 
 
Ms Syamala says, “Facilitating an enabling environment is a critical component of the work at AADI that includes access audits; awareness raising programmes; training and building capacities of existing professionals like teachers, doctors, architects, lawyers, employers, media professionals, etc, to ensure accessible and inclusive services.”
 
For those who would like to help AADI in its mission, she adds: “You could support us in creating an enabling environment. We welcome contributions of your time, effort/ skill or money.” Donations are exempt from income tax under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. 
 

 

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