New Delhi: The 6th India International Science Festival (IISF) is based on the theme ‘Science for Self-reliant India and Global Welfare’. Resilience, Adaptability and Coexistence play a very important role in mainstreaming Divyangjan in the overall developmental process for an Equitable Inclusive growth. Though several initiatives were taken by the Government, including the R&D programmes of Department of Science and Technology, there is a need for accelerating the pace of Research and Development (R&D) in the field of Assistive Technologies in the context of developing demographic changes, leading to a greater number of persons with disabilities.
The second edition of Conclave on Assistive Technologies and Divyangjan was held with the theme of “Empowering Divyangjan through Science, Technology and Innovations for Self-Reliance”. The conclave brought together various stakeholders in the Assistive Technologies (AT) value chain such as researchers, scientists, engineers, clinicians, innovators, policymakers, entrepreneurs and start-ups, government and non-governmental organizations, industries, counselors, along with Divyangjan and their care givers to address the challenges in building a Self-Reliant Assistive Technology ecosystem in India
The event was inaugurated by the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot. The two-day deliberations provided a common platform not only to discuss about solutions but also deliberate on existing problems for a proactive Research & Development on Assistive tools, technologies and techniques for building resilience among the Divyangjan, as well as creating a self-reliant R&D ecosystem for empowering the Divyangjan
The event had lead talks and panel discussion focused on different aspects like Assistive Technology Ecosystem in India, Independent Daily Living, Education and Skill Development, Employability etc. with special reference to women, Northeastern States, the challenges during the current pandemic and the need for development of indigenous assistive devices for self-reliance.The event also had a Virtual Expo/Exhibition besides Poster Presentation by Students.
More than 200 participants comprising researchers, scientists and technologists, user groups, industry, clinicians and practitioners, representatives of NGO’s and Government deliberated on the unmet needs of Divyangjan and called for innovative approaches to solve the problems. Participants hoped that the recommendations will pave a way for realization of AT enabled inclusive development, role & responsibilities of various stakeholders in user centric product design and development, encourage increased coordination between accessibility, usability, and inclusion research and practice and interdisciplinary research with imperative user involvement. They said that on a larger perspective, the recommendation will help in realizing, not only the implementation strategies of Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan but will also develop more and more, technically feasible and economically viable technology solutions for Divyangjan in realizing the dream of ‘Accessible India-Empowered India’.
On a global perspective the discussions will open the doors for participation and recognition of Divyangjan as active contributing members of society, who must not face any discrimination for achieving 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals pertaining to Disabilities.