Bangalore tech firms offer more room for differently abled

Firms like SAP Labs are planning to create more employment opportunities for differently abled

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The IT ethos of the city is gradually extending to include people with disabilities, and tech firms are making more room for differently abled professionals to join and work to enhance the business output.

From beefing up infrastructure by putting up wheelchair ramps, to incorporating voice reading software, to having sign language interpreters, firms are doing it all.

Currently, only 1% of the total IT and tech workforce comprises people with disabilities including those with autism, spasticity etc.

Firms like SAP Labs, that have roughly 4, 500 employees in Bangalore, have about 15 people with disabilities, including visual, hearing and orthopaedically impaired and those with autism.

Experts say it is important to increase the number of differently abled candidates since their inputs are essential in the smooth functioning of a firm.

Some of them bring a whole new culture to the workplace, says Sheenam Ohrie, diversity and inclusion lead at SAP Labs.

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

Firms have found that visually-challenged professionals are imperative for testing and validating new products, and deciding whether the products are compatible for the blind.

The hearing-impaired can be trained to undertake tasks in the generator room where the sound level cannot be tolerated by other individuals.

Sumanth KV, who has cerebral palsy but succeeded in doing MBA from IIM Indore, says it is necessary to harness the talent and potential of the differently abled so that they too can fruitfully contribute to a work environment.

“We too have a right for the same kind of employment and social infrastructure like other professionals,” says Sumanth.

Ohrie says SAP is trying to create a culture of sensitisation in the organisation by having differently abled achievers come and speak with the employees. “Such sessions inspire employees, and also let them know that talent matters most. Not the physical challenges in a person.”

SAP wants to hike the number of disabled in their campus from the current 15 in the next 18 months time. 

For this they are planning to work with the Autistic Society of Karnataka, and Mitra Jyothi, which works with visually challenged, to identify individuals who can be trained for working in a corporate setup.

“We are working with the Autistic Society for creating a syllabus for kids to make them competent for getting jobs,” says Ohrie.

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