Tech firms train their radar on the differently abled

Friday, 13 December 2013 - 1:59pm IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Creating an encouraging environment for the differently abled seems to be top on the radar for IT and tech companies.

The differently abled might be comprising merely 1% of the total workforce in the sector, and companies are doing their bit by installing ramps, incorporating Braille lettering on doors, building restrooms for the disabled, and adopting softwares that can assist in the smooth functioning of the visually, hearing and physically impaired workforce.

Isaac George, VP and human resources head, Wipro Infotech says they currently employ 450 persons with disabilities. “Our persons with disabilities programme has made the company more vibrant and diverse.”

Wipro received the 2013 ESCAP-Sasakawa Award for Disability-Inclusive Business in Asia and the Pacific, in the category, Disability-inclusive multinational enterprise; for including employees with disabilities in its business model, and enabling careers for them.

The Bangalore headquartered company has adapted IS applications to connect with the software used in the organisation, so that IT resources and information are made easily available to the physically challenged.

Likewise, others like EMC India have installed Jaws screen reader for the visually challenged employees.

“With the emergence of assistive technologies, a bridge has been built that connects differently abled with their environment, helping them enjoy the same opportunities as others,” says Chandrasekar Krishnamurthy, vice-president, global service, EMC India.

SAP Labs also has several differently abled people on their payrolls.

Sheenam Ohrie, diversity and inclusion lead at SAP Labs, says people with different abilities bring a lot to the table.

“For example, people with autism bring a lot in terms of their memory and ability to do routine tasks in a limited time span. If an non-autistic person needs 3 hours to complete a routine task, an autistic person will do it in just an hour. This enhances productivity and output,” says Ohrie.

Experts say while visually challenged professionals are important in tech firms for testing and validating new products, and deciding whether the products are compatible for the blind.
Whereas the hearing impaired can be trained to undertake tasks in the generator room where the sound level cannot be tolerated by other individuals, say experts.

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