Virtual International Conference -2nd/3rd December 2020

Initiative by VARIJA LIFE

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Disability Report, one billion people or 15% of the World’s population experience some form of disability. Although, there is no recent census on disability data available in India for this population of society, WHO estimates that disability prevalence is higher than 15% in developing countries. Post COVID-19, the disability numbers are expected to increase.

Isolation, fear and loss of income is triggering mental health concerns. Physical mobility is restricted due to repeated lockdowns. Therefore digital accessibility and assistive technology  has become necessary more than ever before. Defining abilities and reskilling for employment of persons with disabilities is going to be the key not just for inclusion but also economic generation. Sensitisation and awareness through films, media and community support can accelerate the efforts in disability inclusion.

VARIJA LIFE, under Varija Bajaj is a Not for Profit Organisation, working extensively in the area of disability awareness. Amongst several other initiatives, the organisation is conducting extensive research on clothing for persons with disabilities and recently concluded “STARABLE” an initiative to introduce investors to startups by and for PWD in order to encourage a robust ecosystem for persons with needs including old age disability.

“I wish to mobilise the influencers across sectors, policy makers and even people’s perception towards people with special needs. It is not a matter of special privilege but basic human rights and dignity of life” –Varija Bajaj

National Ability Summit, is a virtual international conference for disability awareness in order to stir up action for an inclusive global society. The main objective of the National Ability Summit is to provide a platform to world leaders from government bodies, educational institutions, health institutions, private and public sectors to share their learning curve and collectively draw a 360 degree approach to address physical and mental health for the global community at large. The speakers from around the world will be on live panel discussions spanning over two days.The summit will address Employment and Human Resource for People With Disabilities (PWD), Assistive Technology, Mental Health, Adaptive Clothing, Art and Films for and by PWD, Digital Accessibility, Infrastructural Accessibility and Startups focusing on mental and physical needs of PWD.

“I am honored to be invited to participate in the National Ability Summit and work with global partners on sharing resources and working together to make our world a more accessible one for all people with disabilities.” –Rachel Arfa, City of Chicago, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (USA)

“I’m looking forward to a new day, where when we see people with disabilities in films, that we’re there not because we are the tragic or inspirational character, but because we are simply a natural part of life and society. That is authentic. This would be an important step towards eliminating the harmful stigma – that unrelenting burden – that we all face in the disabled community.” –James Lebrecht, Co-Director of Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, Executive Producers President Barack Obama & Michele Obama (USA)

Confirmed participants of the National Ability Summit include:

-Christopher Patnoe, Head of Accessibility Programme & Disability Inclusion, Google (USA)

-Nikki Hind, Australia’s 1st Blind Fashion Designer (Australia)

-Shonali Bose, Indian Film Director & Producer, Margarita with a Straw & The Sky is Pink (India)

-Dr. Samir Parikh, Director, Fortis National Mental Health Program, Fortis Healthcare (India)

-Tasneem Raja, Lead Mental Health, Tata Trusts (India)

-Judith E. Heumann, International Disability Rights Advocate,The Heumann Perspective (USA)

-Rachel Arfa, Commissioner of Mayor’s office, City of Chicago for people with Disabilities (USA)

-Balendu Sharma Dadhich-Localisation & Accessibility, Microsoft (India)

-Grishma Shah, Chicago Reelabilities Film Festival, Co-Director (USA)

-Hardeep Rai, Group CEO at The Kaleidoscope Group of Companies (UK)

-Meg O’Connell, CEO & Founder, Global Disability Inclusion (USA)

-Ira Singhal, Brand Ambassador for Department of Disability, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India (India)

-Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj, IAS, District Magistrate, Noida (India)

-Rich Donovan, CEO, The Return on Disability Group, Author of Unleash Different (Canada)

-Ravindra Singh, CEO at Skill Council for Persons with Disabilities (India)

-Kush Kanodia, Governor-Chelsea and Westminster Hospital,Board Member-Global Disability Innovation Hub, Chief Disability Officer-The Kaleidoscope Group of Companies (London)

-Gaurav Raheja, Professor and Architect IIT Roorkee, Advisor Accessible India Movement (India)

-Parul Sharma, Country Program Manager- World Enabled (India)

-Mohan Sundaram, Founder Artilabs Foundation, President-Disability NGOs Association (India)

-Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion-AbilityNet (UK)

-Pranav Desai, Founder of Voice of SAP (USA)

-Shilpi Kapoor, Founder of Barrier Break, 247Accessible Documents & Newz Hook-Disability and Accessibility News (India)

-Jonathan Hassell, CEO & Founder Hassell Inclusion (UK)

-Stephanie, Founder & CEO-Cur8able, Disability Fashion Stylist (USA)

-Matthew Skerritt, Founder EveryHuman ( Adaptive Fashion) Australia

-Shannon Willard, Director Sales, Silvert’s Adaptive Clothing and Footwear (USA)

-Anita Iyer, Founder & Managing Trustee -Ekansh Trust (India)

-James Lebrecht, Filmmaker, Co-Director of Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (USA)

– Isaac Zablocki- Co-Founder, ReelAbilities: NY Film Festival, Director: Israel Film Center (USA)

-Keely Wells, Disability Activist, CEO-C Talent, Founder-Zetta Studios (USA)

-Prakriti Poddar, Global Head – Mental Health at Round Glass, Managing Trustee – Poddar Foundation (Canada)

-Dr. Nirmesh G Desai-Director, Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (IHBAS) (India)

-Dr. Manoj Kumar, Founder & Clinical Director, Mental Health Action Trust (MHAT), Kerala (India)

-Sandhya Menon, Author/Journalist (India)

-Ms. Mansi Dholakia, CEO, Global Mental Health Association (USA)

The Summit can be attended by all on

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National Ability Summit

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