The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) launched the India Business and Disability Network (IBDN) in 2019 to ensure workplaces are inclusive, accessible and barrier free for persons with disabilities.
The fifth annual CII-IBDN National Conference was held on 19-20 September 2023 in Delhi in partnership with the Zero Project, a global organisation working to promote disability inclusion. With “Global Networks and Innovations for Inclusive Employment in India” as the theme of the conference, leading experts, practitioners, and advocates from the field of disability inclusion came together to share innovative ideas and discuss ways to further promote disability inclusion in the world of work.
Venkatraman SV, Chairman of the CII National Committee on Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and the IBDN, spoke about the importance of getting support from top management in companies.
Satoshi Sasaki, Officer-in-Charge at the International Labour Organization (ILO), described the ILO’s “twin-track approach to disability inclusion: creating disability specific initiatives and ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the world of work.” He stressed that all partners – governments, corporates, NGOs, civil society – must work together to create change.
Martin Essl, CEO and Founder of the Essl Foundation and Zero Project, stated how “Artificial Intelligence is creating new opportunities to create a world with zero barriers” and this potential needs to be realised as quickly as possible.
Twenty startup companies also showcased their innovative solutions to remove barriers and promote inclusion.
Some notable assistive technologies showcased were:
An assistive aid designed to optimise mobility for people with visual impairments.
Singable – a mobile app that provides live interpretation in ISL.
A head-wearable device that enables hands – free operations of computers and smartphones.
The conference highlighted the need for businesses to prioritise diversity and inclusion in recruitment, while creating programmes that create opportunities for persons with disabilities, and the critical role technology plays in promoting disability inclusion in the job market. Policies and mandates are imperative to ensuring workplaces are inclusive and accessible.