“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing and inclusion” - Max de pree
The disable friendliness of India can be gauged in terms of ease of physical movement, economic opportunities and social inclusiveness for the differently abled. Let me also add few more segments like old persons, pregnant women and temporarily disabled and we have a huge population that faces several issues in terms of physical movement. The main reason for this is lack of disabled friendly infrastructure, like public transport, buildings and crowded nature of cities. However, when we look at the sheer number of people who are denied such facilities it would turn out to be a big asset for every establishment, including corporates. In short, it makes a perfect business sense for establishments to make their infrastructure disabled friendly.
From philosophy to economics to business, the mantra for sustainable success is ‘Inclusion”. Let me share some positive best practices in India.
VFS Global for visa and passport application processing services. Indian School of Business (ISB) and Capgemini, a consulting, technology and outsourcing company follow such practices.
The common thread of best practice is that all the three institutions right from conceptualization of their infrastructure they thought, designed and executed an ‘inclusive’, ‘barrier free’ and ‘accessible environment’ for people with disabilities. They are indeed conscientious institutions. A rare breed indeed. Salute!
The most significant fact discovered from them is that creating any NEW Infrastructure to be inclusive Does Not Cost more. Nah, not a paisa more! It does not compromise their revenues or profitability. But it can become a means to increase their turnover.
In order to present my case for creating more disabled friendly, inclusive infrastructure in future I have coined an acronym- DOPT, which stands for…
D- People with Disabilities (Visual, hearing, Ortho, Spinal Cord Injury, mental retardation)
O- Old (senior Citizens) 60-80 years
P- Pregnant Women
T- Temporarily Disabled (caused due to diseases or accidents)
Infrastructure companies cannot ignore the fact that this DOPT Community is a huge consumer segment. Most customers look for ready to occupy spaces, which require minimum modifications and retrofitting including members of DOPT community.
1. Features of DOPT Community
2. Disposable Income and Spending Power of this Community. Worldwide the disability Market alone is 100 crore people and $1 trillion in annual disposable income. Senior citizens control about 70% of the disposable income in the US. Pregnant women and temporarily disabled also need specific clothing, diet, assistive technology and several other items. Cumulatively DOPT is a huge market segment.
3. Indian Accessibility market is valued at Rs4,200 crore (Ref: Shilpi Kapoor, Barrier Break, News Hook developer)
The time has come to realise and acknowledge the power of the DOPT community. Their infrastructure needs are similar in terms of an accessible environment. Let’s aim for inclusive action and a win-win situation. The infrastructure community needs to follow the UNCRPD and Indian bye laws to create international class inclusive properties, which does not cost extra. Thus enabling the DOPT Community to perform to their highest potential and collaboratively take our country forward. Let’s change our approach and the way we ‘see’ this new and emerging market. I believe it makes good business sense.
(Dr Ketna L Mehta is an educationist, editor, author and Founder Trustee of Nina Foundation that serves the rehabilitation of economically and socially disadvantaged friends with spinal injuries. She is also Editor and Associate Dean Research, WeSchool. Email- firstname.lastname@example.org , www.ninafoundation.org