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Recently, as a representative of iridium Interactive and the Cause an Effect Foundation, I was honored with the Udyog Rattan Award in recognition of contributions towards the empowerment of the disabled. The Udyog Rattan Award is conferred by the Institute of Economic Studies in New Delhi, one among the country’s premier research institutes.
The Institute of Economic Studies was established in 1980 by a group of economists, parliamentarians and industrialists who came together to study and discuss problems concerning various aspects of the economy and economic development of India and offer their expert advice and services.
While the award itself deserves no more than a passing mention, I do believe that the work it recognized could do with a lot more awareness and support. We founded the Cause an Effect Foundation (CnE) in 1999 to help the victims of the super cyclone that affected Orissa that year. Leveraging the power of internet, we built a global community and raised funds to the tune of 1.8 million$ in just 45 days.
The CnE Foundation then went on to generate funds for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake and Andhra floods, as well as the Tsunami-affected victims across Tamil Nadu and AP. In all CnE projects, iridium Interactive functions as the commercial interactive agency, and has been highly successful in generating awareness and publicity for the various initiatives. It is heartening to see the ii management and employees wholeheartedly contribute their time and expertise to these initiatives.
A lot of the work that we do is mainly in the area of empowerment of the disabled. The process of empowering disabled people is an end-to-end value chain that spans Iridium and CnE, and is done through multiple initiatives. CnE has conducted disability camps bringing together the State Governments, transport authorities and medical personnel to issue 5000 disability certificates to the differently-abled. It has also conducted livelihood trainings that have empowered a thousand people with financial viability, and workshops in education and English language to bring the differently-abled community closer to the mainstream and services on offer through the internet.
A focus area for me personally, and for ii at large, is that of Web accessibility and usability, i.e. making websites accessible for the differently-abled. ii has been instrumental in promoting ‘web accessibility’ for visually impaired and motor disabled people, enabling them to access technology- and information-related products through the use of Internet. We work to create awareness amongst website owners (government and private) on the need to make sites accessible to disabled users, and also on promoting Internet usage within the disabled sections of the society. Additionally, we have also helped in making various websites (dealing with employment, transport and travel, education, and e-banking) user-friendly for people with disabilities, thereby promoting equal opportunities for disabled people.
All CnE initiatives are for the betterment of the marginalized or disadvantaged communities in India, be it the differently-abled, or the rural poor. For instance, another project that we are very invested in is that of livelihood training, where we have used the power of ICT to develop 7 livelihood training modules for rural farmers and fisherfolk, to train them in alternative livelihoods.
As I mentioned earlier on, the causes that we work for could always do with more publicity and more support. Being awarded a prestigious award like the Udyog Rattan focuses attention on our causes and turns the spotlight on them.
To know more about CnE efforts in these and other areas, I encourage you to visit the website (www.causeaneffect.org) and perhaps even join our community.
Tags: causean effect, Institute of Economic Studies(IES), iridium interactive, Sriram Bharatam, Udyog Rattan Award, Web accessibility and Usability
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