A United Nations report accounted that around one billion people live with disabilities globally, and as many as 40-80 million live in India. While battling through the underdeveloped infrastructure across much of this vast country makes it difficult for them to get around, provisions to help them lead a normal and comfortable life is imperative to boost inclusivity.
Here is a list of 7 Indian startups who have woven their vision to ensure that everyday life is not so ‘different’ for the differently abled:
Mobility and accessibility is an important aspect in our everyday lives, but for the disabled population of the country, provisions for hassle-free access is yet to be addressed by even the biggest of companies. Bengaluru-based cab services company KickStart, co-founded by Vidhya Ramasubban and Srikrish Siva has taken a step to help those who are wheel-chair bound to commute from one part of the city to another without being dependent on their friends and family.
These customized cabs are equipped to accommodate wheelchair users as well as those with disabilities and senior citizens. The drivers are also trained to help the customers board the cab as well as get off it without much hassle.
Anand Chowdhary and Nishant Gadihoke started Oswald Foundation by building a free reading solution for people with dyslexia and officially founded the company in 2016. Now dubbed as Valmiki, the reading solution is a browser extension that comes built-in with an option that adjusts the color-contrast ratio and typography, to best suit the needs of someone with a learning disorder.
Another solution developed by the duo is Agastya for web developers to help incorporate accessibility features in their websites. The startup is now gearing up to introduce Shravan, an end-to-end accessible smartphone. It will be integrated with its patent-pending speech and vibration technology to provide ease of usage to visually impaired, the unlettered, senior citizens, and everyone in between.
“Technology can empower people with disabilities and elderly to live independently.” With this vision, BarrierBreak has set out to provide accessibility solutions to assist people with disabilities in using technology. Founded by Shilpi Kapoor, the startup manufactures products ranging from a vibrating watch for the visually impaired to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices for those with limited or no speech.
Apart from bringing assistive technology to India, BarrierBreak services 9 other countries. It also works with nonprofit organizations, governments and corporates to create an ecosystem that is conducive to empower persons with disabilities using technology, and work towards bridging the road map for an inclusive society.
4. Rise Legs
Prosthetic legs have been there in the market for long now. But their heavy weight and lack of flexibility is something many amputees have to unwillingly deal with. But what if something as light as cane can help in everyday movement?
Bengaluru-based startup Rise Legs is an Indian startup that makes cane prosthetic legs, which can be customized based on the purpose and appearance. So whether you want a sturdy one for running, or an artistic one with catchy designs on it, this can be you one stop solution. Founded by 32-year-old Arun Cherian, a former robotics professional, the company also partners with various coaches and organizations to build a strong ecosystem for athletes with disabilities who can compete on a global stage.
In the digital world of matchmaking, Inclov assures that those who are differently abled are not left behind in the ‘maze of love’. The company has made a mobile app focusing on the disabled, which matches people on the basis cure availability, medical condition, level of independence and lifestyle choices.
So whether people want go out on a date, find a life partner, or make friends, the app handles it all. Inclov can also be accessed by the visually impaired with the help of a screen reader and talkback option.
This bootstrapped startup founded by Joe Ikareth and his wife Murielle Ikareth realizes the need for comfortable clothing and accessories solutions for differently abled people to ease of dressing and undressing. Inspired by traditional Kerala fabrics, Joe uses natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, linen and their blends.
With an aim to create clothes that can be equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed, Joe’s boutique in Fort Kochi regularly features guest accessories designers who compliment the Joe Ikareth sense of style. The collection is also available at ‘Grasshopper’ in Bangalore, ‘Ensemble’ in Delhi, ‘Amethyst’ in Chennai, ‘Teatro Dhora’ in Jaipur and ‘Sosas’ in Goa.
In this world of continuous digital disruption and evolution, can you imagine how challenging it would be for a visually impaired person to even access the intermet? Inorder to enable them to stay at pace with the rest of the world, IIT Bombay alumni Surabhi Srivastava has built BrailleMe, a machine that plugs into mobile phones and computers to help the visually impaired access the internet and other digital content.
While traditional, script-based Braille print are not just bulky but also expensive, this product stands out as it is 10 times cheaper (~$300) than all existing commercially available competitors. This is due to the patent filed magnetic Braille actuators in BrailleMe as opposed to the piezoelectric actuators of the competitors.