Bengaluru: What started in 1959 by the then 17-year-old N.S. Hema, who is affected by polio in both her legs and an arm, the Association for People with Disability (APD), which works out of Bengaluru, has grown to touch the lives of thousands of differently abled people across the state.
“We have worked extensively for the last 55 years to reach out and rehabilitate people with disability from underprivileged sections. Our motto is to mainstream them and make their lives more inclusive. We also aim to create equal opportunities for people with various disabilities, giving them the confidence that comes with independence. We believe that every person with disability is capable and it is only the society that has to create opportunities for them," said Mr K.N. Gopinath, Executive Director, APD.
One of their major programmes is early intervention. “We run the project across seven districts to detect disabilities as soon as possible. Early detection helps in early rehabilitation which helps in mainstreaming such children early. Under this programme, we screen children from birth till five years. We have already supported over 3,000 children in these districts," he said.
Education is the next key focus and mainstreaming the children into proper schools is always a challenge. “To tackle this, we have the inclusive education programme, which supports children from 6 to18 years and helps them get into proper schools, either government or private. We provide training and resource material for teachers and also educate other students to make them tolerant towards the differently-abled. We have supported 2,600 children under the programme," he said.
APD gives vocational training for the children to make them financially independent. Over 200 trained students are employed every year at Vasudev Adiga's and Adyar Anand Bhavan. “Our programmes are all employment-oriented. We look at what the employers want, sign MoUs with them and design the training programme accordingly. We also have horticulture, hospitality, industrial and call centre training programmes. Over 92% of the trained youngsters have been employed in different sectors. These programmes are aimed at the youth from rural areas as they are not educated. We also help the employers with training and other resources, so that the workplace is inclusive for the hired employees,” he said.
APD runs a support programme where speech therapy, mobility, hearing therapy and rehabilitation are the focus. Over 4,000 people have already been supported under this. For those who want to go beyond the service sector, the organisation runs a policy and advocacy programme to hone their leadership skills.
“We support 12 NGOs that which are working mostly in North Karnataka. We provide them with training resources and funds," he said.