Helen Keller disability awards to 11 role models

New Delhi


Eleven people and organisations were honoured with the NCPEDP-Shell Helen Keller Awards here Sunday for being role models to the disabled and helping them lead better lives. Monday is World Disability Day.

In the 'Role Model Disabled Individuals' category, Abdul Sajeed Ali, Ketan Kothari, Radhika Chand and Sangeeta Gala were felicitated.

Ali is credited with making the Andhra Pradesh government ensure employment for the disabled under the 100-days' job guarantee scheme while Kothari brought systemic changes to help visually-impaired people have access to the printed word.

Of the other two awardees, Chand is an artist and school teacher while Gala, who is hearing-impaired, is an associate director to filmmakers Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Mani Ratnam.

In the 'Role Model Non-Disabled Individuals' category, the awardees were Ishita Sanyal for promoting employment of mentally-ill people and R. Hari for making his Lemon Tree Hotels an inclusive workplace.

A Special Mention Award was also given to J. Jaishree Thandwal for promoting recruitment of hearing-impaired people in IT company MphasiS.

In the 'Role Model Organisations' category, Aegis, EuroAble, Lemon Tree Hotels, Sun ITES and Wipro were awarded, besides a Special Mention Award for Accenture for its recent diversity initiative.

The awards were instituted in 1999.

"When we look at this year's awardees, we see things have improved in 14 years. But somehow, the public sector continues to do badly, despite the mandated three percent reservation. Opportunities for people with severe impairment and those with psychosocial, intellectual and developmental disabilities are still dismal," said Javed Abidi, honorary director of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP).

"Disability is a matter of perception. The Paralympics in London this summer, watched by the same capacity crowds as the Olympics, showed the heights of achievement in sport by people disadvantaged in some ways but more than making up for it in others," said Yasmine Hilton, chairman, Shell India. - IANS