Microsoft Accessibility Summit

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Theme: ‘The Future of Accessibility, through the Lens of Technology’

The first Microsoft Accessibility Summit in India was held at Microsoft Campus in Hyderabad on May 30, 2017. The one-day event brought together thought leaders, representatives from the government, policy makers and influencers, technology innovators, representatives from organizations that are committed to people with disabilities, and people with disabilities on to one platform to discover, share and chart a direction for making life, experiences and opportunities accessible to all. The theme for the summit was ‘The Future of Accessibility, through the Lens of Technology’.

The event was organized by Microsoft Philanthropies teams in India, led by Manju Dhasmana and Chitra Sood, in collaboration with Sarthak Educational Trust.


Participant mix


The summit brought together a diverse set of delegates, representing people and organizations committed to and interested in building accessible experiences. Approximate metrics below.

Non-profit Organizations 34%

Corporates 29%

Social Innovators 14%

Academia 8%

Government 7%

Accessibility Consultants 4%

Filmmakers 2%

Medical Specialists 2%



Background and context


Globally, 15% of the population has some form of disability. India, like other emerging markets, has a large and growing number of people with disabilities. 26.8 million to be more precise (2.21% of the overall population), as reported by World Bank in 2011. The social and economic frameworks that exist to help people survive and grow are not necessarily built to include them. While there is exemplary work being done by the government, certain organizations and individuals, in empowering and enabling those with disabilities, these efforts are largely disparate and needing in scale and scope.

Microsoft Philanthropies in India took the initiative to bring these entities on to one platform, so that ideas can be shared, efforts can be synergized and empathy can be enhanced. The summit has succeeded in starting a rich and multi-layered conversation, between people with disabilities, innovators, policy makers and influencers, corporates who train and hire people with disabilities, and thought leaders.



Highlights from the main sessions


The Secretary, Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India, Navreet Kang, delivered the keynote address. Other prominent speakers included Madhu Khatri, Associate General Counsel and Accessibility Lead, Microsoft India; Dr. Sam Taraporevala, Xavier’s Resource Centre for Visually Challenged; Zain Memon, Filmmaker; and Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, Founder, Sarthak Educational Trust.

The day started with and introduction by Nidhi Jain and Shriram Parthasarathy, and a welcome note by Dr. Jitender Aggarwal. Watch the recording. (Part 1), Watch the recording (Part 2).

Navreet Kang, in his keynote, emphasized the government’s commitment to accessibility and highlighted the ‘Accessibility India Campaign’ as a key initiative. He said it was important for both public and private programs to focus on complementary areas. He also called for conscious efforts from corporates to make all the consumer products and services accessible to all people. Watch the recording.

Madhu Khatri presented Microsoft’s believe in disability also being a strength. Underlining Microsoft’s mission on empowerment, she highlighted innovations such as Caplio, the Skype translator, and Cities Unlocked, the independent audio navigator. Her talk also included a video message from Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer. Watch the recording.

Zain Memon shared a spirit of collectivism as an essential attribute in the evolution of universal accessibility. He opined that standing in a world full of resources, we have no excuse but to make the world accessible to everyone. Watch the recording.

Dr. Sam Taraporevala highlighted the essential connection between accessibility and education. He emphasized that all innovations should be made on the idea of multi-sensory approach, calling all creators and innovators to look at a universal design that works for everyone. Watch the recording.

In a ‘fire-side’ chat, Shriram Parthasarathy, conversed with team from IIT Kharagpur, who won laurels at Imagine Cup India this year, for their project ‘Whitecane’. Watch the recording (Part1), Watch the recording (Part 2).

The first half concluded with a Q&A with the main speakers. Watch the recording.



Highlights from the plenaries


The main panel on ‘Government and Bilateral: Influencing Policy for Innovation on accessible technologies’, moderated by Ashutosh Chadha, Government Affairs, Microsoft, included Dorodi Sharma, Disability Rights Specialist, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office; Jayesh Ranjan, IT Secretary, Department of IT, Electronics and Communications, Government of Telangana; Rama Chari, Director, DEOC (Created Accessibility Policy for Wipro); and Sujiv Nair, CEO, Skill Mission, Government of India. The panelists discussed employment prospects of people with disabilities and explored the role of technology in enabling it. They also examined the role of the government and other stakeholders in driving the paradigm shift. While discussing the evolution of policy interventions, the panel shared critical comments on focus areas and global practices. Watch the recording.

The first breakout panel on ‘Technology Innovations on Accessibility’, moderated by Mohan Sundaram, CEO and Founding Director, ARTILAB, included Prashanth Ranjan Verma, National Association for Blind and Consultant, Daisy Consortium; Rimi Thapa, Marketing and Communications Head, Eye-D; Pradeep T, Director, Enability Foundation; and Vikranth, a Product Designer from Mumbai. The panelists shared their views on high-potential fields such as artificial intelligence, digital learning, mobile apps, multimedia, image processing and Integrated technologies, as being critical in enabling greater levels of accessibility. They stressed the importance of not only increasing the scope of solutions, but also making them affordable. Watch the recording.

The second breakout panel on ‘Skilling Model for People with Disabilities’, moderated by Dr. Jitender Agarwal, Founder, Sarthak Educational Trust, included Meera Shenoy, Founder, Youth4Jobs Foundation; Manish Kumar, CEO, National Skill Development Corporation; Dr. Neelam Lulla, Educationist, Education Audiology Research (EAR); Santosh Abraham, Vice President – Skills Program, NASSCOM Foundation; and Shashank Awasthi, Co-Founder, V-shesh. The plenary brought out insights and perspectives in current skilling models for people with disabilities in India. Discussions centered on experiences in disseminating skills across sectors, the problems faced and ideas on how they can be overcome. Watch the recording.

The third breakout panel on ‘The role of Assistive Technologies for treating Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) And Special Learning Disabilities (SLD)', moderated by Prof. Prof. Chiranjib Bhattacharya, The Indian Institute of Science, included Sumana Dutta, Founder – Director, Akshadhaa Foundation; Dr. Nandini Singh – Scientist, National Brain Research Centre; and Joy Mustafi, Principle Applied Scientist, Microsoft India. Given the specialized and unprecedented topic, this discussion dealt with exploring frameworks and solutions. The members shared valuable insights from machine learning, neuroscience, special education and data science and attempted to chart out a way forward for the role of assistive technologies in treating ASDs and SLDs. Watch the recording.



Highlights from segment on Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities


Aradhana Lal, Vice President, Sustainability, The Lemon Tree Hotel Company, detailed out the business model and HR strategy she employs at her company. Every staff member at the chain of hotels goes through a mandatory training to be sensitized about accessibility and to learn the sign language. This is an important part of their performance evaluation as well. Watch the recording.

Prashant Issar, Co-Founder & CEO, Squaremeal Foods, presented a case of a restaurant, Mirchi and Mime, which reserves employment to people with speech and hearing impairment. In his experience, he found people with disabilities to more perceptive, more intuitive, more focused and more congenial – all desirable traits for the service and hospitality industry. Watch the recording.

TV Aishwarya, who is a rehabilitation counsellor at LV Prasad Eye Institute, sharing her incredible story, of how she lost her sight but rebuilt her life towards being independent. Along the way, she also made an award-winning audio movie of her journey. Watch the recording.



Highlights from OpenCircle, Showcase of Innovation for Accessibility


OpenCircle, a segment of the summit where innovators, both organizations and individuals, demonstrated products and ideas that make the lives of people with disabilities better, created a lot of interaction and interest from the delegates and the media. A summary of the innovations presented:

  • Gunjan Gupta (Tell Mate Helper Pvt. Ltd.) showcased Tellmate, a wearable vision device that converts visuals in front of the wearer into whispers in the person's ear. Watch the recording.
  • P Subhashini (Assistive Technology Lab, BVRIT), showcased Ojas, an IoT-based wireless water level monitoring and control system that helps people with disabilities manage water-related chores by themselves. Watch the recording.
  • Surabhi Srivastava (Innovision Tech) showcased Braille Me, a low-cost Braille assistant that enables reading and typing via a tactile screen, comprised of electromechanically actuated pins. Watch the recording.
  • Akila Surendran (National Institute of Speech & Hearing) showcased Real Time Transcription Service , which provides real-time cloud-based transcription to people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Watch the recording.
  • Naraynan Ramakrishnan showcased FJ Typer, a touch-typing tutor that is accessible and works with screen readers like NVDA; it invites users to explore the keyboard and familiarize themselves with it using audio feedback. Watch the recording.
  • Akashdeep Bansal (Assist Tech) showcased OCR for Scientific Documents, which helps in making scientific documents accessible for persons with visual impairment. Watch the recording.
  • Prof. Andrews Samraj (Advanced Science and Technology Services) showcased PhysioPowerHeal, an automation of the physiotherapy process, customizable as per the needs of the user. Watch the recording.
  • Kalvina (Enability Foundation) showcased Tactograph, a tool that enables schools to print their own tactile books and worksheets at an affordable price. Watch the recording.


Other highlights


Bhavesh Chandubhai Bhatia, a visually challenged entrepreneur and founder of Sunrise Candles, spoke about 'The Role of Technology in Creating Accessible Businesses'. Watch the recording.Watch the recording.

Ankit Rajiv Jindal, Marketing and Diversity & Inclusion Expert and a Social Entrepreneur, gave a demo of Eye-D. Watch the recording.

An arts and crafts exhibition was held by a few non-profits, who showcased the work of people with disabilities. The event concluded with a talk by Siddharth Kak, Television Producer and Actor. Watch the recording.



Event experience


We invited an independent accessibility audit of the venue to inform decisions on event experience. Consequently, we executed certain elements of the summit with accessibility features. Directional audio that described the environment around to delegates with low or no vision. Tactile Braille printed agenda and signage. Locating all the event segments on the ground floor and not having a step-up stage. Leveraging the talents of two Microsoft employees, with vision impairment, as comperes. Sign language translators for all the sessions, talks and demos. Installing a very large screen to help those with low vision to see the proceedings with relatively lesser strain. Several volunteers to guide those with disabilities while navigating the venue. This too, was a beginning.

The day concluded with a Vote of Thanks from Chitra Sood and Manju Dhasmana. Watch the recording.


Speakers / Panelists (alphabetical)


Aradhana Lal
Aradhana Lal
Vice President, Sustainability, The Lemon Tree Hotel Company

Aradhana leads the Sustainability Initiative at Lemon Tree Hotels – including planet/environment and people/inclusion and diversity. The company’s strategy is to build an inclusive employee base and has been hiring Employees with Disabilities (EWD) for 9 years. Aradhana co-leads recruitment of EWDs (through the network of 33 hotels in 21 cities) and leads new initiatives in the disability space. Aradhana co-leads recruitment of EWDs (through the network of 33 hotels in 21 cities) and leads new initiatives in the disability space.

Aradhana is an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and has 22 years of experience in Sales, Marketing, Corporate Communications and Sustainability. She was earlier Vice President - Sales & Marketing at Lemon Tree Hotels. Aradhana was previously Sales & Operations Manager at Hindustan Lever Network, the multi-level marketing business of Hindustan Unilever. Prior to that Aradhana was with the Taj Group of Hotels.

Ashutosh Chadha
Ashutosh Chadha
Group Director, Government Affairs, Microsoft India

Ashutosh has over 25 years of international experience in corporate affairs, government relations, advocacy, education and corporate social responsibility. He had led high-performance teams across various countries and engaged with stakeholders across government, academia and industry organizations. He brings with him extensive experience in Government Relations and Public Policy Advocacy, Business Development, CSR, as well as Channel Management, across APAC in a career spanning nearly 30 years. Responsible for driving Policy and Program interventions across South Asia to enable Reputation and support Business.

His work entails driving all Government relations and strategy as well as programs across Accessibility and CSR in the country. As a part of the role in-depth engagement is required with Government, Academia, Civil Society as well as Multilateral organisations to advocate for policies which support effective use of technology to drive development as well as focusing on areas related to Innovation. At Microsoft, he is working ardently in increasing complexities in our Public Policy, Technology Policy, Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations.

Prof. Dr. Andrews Samraj
Prof. Dr. Andrews Samraj
Professor of Computer Science and Engineering working in Mahendra Engineering College

Prof. Dr. Andrews Samraj is the Professor of Computer Science and Engineering working in Mahendra Engineering College, Nammakal, Tamil Nadu, and a renowned rehabilitation Engineering Scientist with Cybernetics and Wearable computing as the area of specialization. His service to the humanity can be categorized under Science and Engineering Technology, Human Resource Development and socio-economic development of the community. He has been recognized internationally as an Indian scientist who contributed immensely to the field of rehabilitation and security for the paralyzed, bedridden, physically challenged and seriously ill patients in a non-invasive way of ability augmentation for the improvement of their quality of life. His Innovations in this area won the NASSCOM Social Innovation Forum Award 2017, the nation’s highest award of this category.

Akashdeep Bansal
Akashdeep Bansal
PhD at IIT Delhi

Akashdeep Bansal is currently pursuing PhD at IIT Delhi with Prof. M. Balakrishnan. His research interest area is 'Reading Accessibility for Visually Impaired'. He has done Masters of Technology in Optoelectronics and Optical Communication from IIT Delhi in 2016. He also has a Bachelors in Technology in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Uttar Pradesh Technical University, Lucknow in 2014. Know more here:akashdeep

Akila Surendran
Akila Surendran
NISH (National Institute of Speech & Hearing, Trivandrum) as a Senior Engineer

Akila Surendran joined NISH (National Institute of Speech & Hearing, Trivandrum) in 2015 as a Senior Engineer in the Centre for Assistive Technology and Innovation (CATI). She has a B.Tech (Industrial Biotechnology) and a Ph.D. (Computational and Systems Biology). She likes to work at the intersection of life sciences and technology, applying her knowledge at the molecular level to the more complex human being and societal level. She loved being at the NISH campus and is happy to be a part of the energy and enthusiasm there.

Balendu Sharma
Balendu Sharma
Localization Lead, Microsoft India

Recipient of 'Atma Ram Award' at the hands of the President of India, Sh. Pranab Mukherjee, Balendu Sharma Dadhich is a seasoned Information Technology and Media professional with over 20 years of extensive experience in various aspects of IT (Software, Web, Mobile) and mass media (Print, TV, Radio, New Media). In his role at Microsoft, he works towards strengthening Microsoft’s localization and accessibility charter and influence product and services strategy. He also drives and promotes accessibility features of Microsoft products, engages with stakeholders in disability domain and supports non-profits adopt accessible technology solutions for creating inclusive workspaces.

A genuine multi-tasker, innovator, author and speaker, Balendu has received a few awards for his work and for his contribution towards propagation of scientific perspective in the society.

Bhavesh Chandubhai Bhatia
Bhavesh Chandubhai Bhatia
CEO, Sunrise Candles

Bhavesh Bhatia started Sunrise candles to empower the Persons with Visual Impairment. Sunrise Candles works as an industry rather than a civil society organisation. It is involved in manufacturing of 10,700 different designs of candle (5gms to 15feets). They have provided employment opportunities to Person with visual as well as Physical Impairment. They have also started exporting their candles to 65 different countries.

Bhavesh Bhatia is also the Joint Secretary NAB & Founder member and President of “Oshonic Vision for the Blind Welfare Society”. He has received various awards and accolades such as- President’s award 2014 for “Best Blind Self-Employment” Category & for “Best Employer” in 2016 by President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He has received a total of 114 Paralympics, NAB and IPSA Medals.

<b>Dr. Jitender Aggarwal</b>
Dr. Jitender Aggarwal
CEO, Sarthak Educational Trust

Dr. Jitender Aggarwal is the founder & CEO of Sarthak Educational Trust and Secretary General, National Olympic Association of India. Dr. Aggarwal is working on the principle of empowering the persons with disability through Intervention, Inclusive Education, Skill Development, Placement, and Advocacy Generation.

Before, starting Sarthak Dr. Aggarwal practiced as dental surgeon for six years. In 2004 Dr. Aggarwal lost his central vision due to macular degeneration and thus had to discontinue his practice. He envisioned a platform where this dependency can be cured. With this thought, in 2008 Dr. Aggarwal started with one centre in Delhi and gradually expanded to six centers across nation. Dr. Aggarwal is the governing board member of Sector Skill Council of persons with disability (SSCPwD). He is a member of screening committee of National Award for Disability and National fund for person with disability. He is also a member of selection committee of National Action Plan (NAP) for Persons with disability.

Dr. Nandini C. Singh
Dr. Nandini C. Singh
Professor, National Brain Research Centre

Dr. Nandini Singh is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the National Brain Research Centre. She received two degrees in physics from Nagpur University and her PhD in physics from the University of Pune. Her research is focused on language, literacy, and music. Dr. Singh also recognizes that both music and emotion significantly impact learning. Her team has recently begun to investigate the different emotions associated with raga music of India and working towards bringing this to the classroom.

A large body of research has shown that initial learning and assessment in children is most successful when conducted in the native language. Recognizing this, Dr. Singh recently led a large project named DALI (Dyslexia Assessment for Languages of India) to develop culturally relevant, standardized tools to screen and assess for dyslexia of speakers of Indian languages.

Dorodi Sharma
Dorodi Sharma
Dorodi Sharma, Disability Rights Specialist, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office

Dorodi Sharma has ten years of experience in communication, and disability rights. She started her career with NDTV and thereafter joined the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People where she coordinated several significant campaigns such as enumeration of people with disabilities in the Population Census of 2011; inclusion of disability in the 12th Five Year Plan; advocacy towards a new disability law; among others. She later worked as advisor to the Global Chair of Disabled People’s International, supporting initiatives on inclusion of people with disabilities in the SDGs, capacity building of national disability organisations to work on Universal Periodic Review, alternative reports on the implementation of CRPD; among others. Dorodi is currently working with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Delhi as the Disability Rights Specialist.

She holds a master degree in mass communication and journalism from Tezpur University India, and a master from the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland College Park, United States.

Gunjan Gupta
Gunjan Gupta
Founder of Tellmate

Gunjan Gupta is a young entrepreneur and founder of Tellmate, who recently won MEA-Niti Aayog National Contest on Social Innovation and got felicitated by the Prime Minister of India. With a keen desire to address the disability faced by visually impaired, Gunjan chose his final year project at Nirma University, Ahmedabad to create a device to assist Visually Impaired. His desire to help visually impaired resulted in Tellmate - wearable glasses which process in front images of Visually Impaired Person, convert it to sound and whisper in ear using hearing aids. Along with working on Tellmate, Gunjan also founded an Online Tutoring Website MATLABHelper.com which is completely dedicated to programming support.

Janhavi Joshi
Janhavi Joshi
Co-founder, Bleetech Innovations Labs

Janhavi Joshi, a young entrepreneur cofounded the Bleetech Innovations Labs, one of the startups under Plugin, a collaborative incubation program from DST (Department of Science and Technology), Intel India and SINE (Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship)- IIT-B. After completing her Graduation in Art from University of Pune, she received her advanced diploma in Kathak Dance from Bharti VidyaPeeth. She has also completed her Graduate Diploma in Product Design, Industrial and Product Design from MIT institute of Design, Pune. She has been honored with Gandhian Young Technological Innovation in 2015 for her project Dance Aid for Deaf.

The Bleetech Innovations Labs has developed a Blee Wearable device for hearing impaired tries to address this critical gap in the market by creating a wearable easy to use affordable device that notifies hearing impaired individuals of certain activities and sounds they need to be aware of.

Jayesh Ranjan
Jayesh Ranjan
IT Secretary, Dept of IT, Electronics & Communication, Govt of Telangana

Mr. Jayesh Ranjan is a member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) of the 1992 batch and working in the state of Telangana. He holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Delhi University, a degree in Business Management from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and a Masters in Public Management from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

Jayesh Ranjan is the Principal Secretary of the Industries & Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT) Departments of the Telangana government. His assignment involves developing policy frameworks, attracting new investments, identifying opportunities of utilizing IT in various government processes, and promoting digital empowerment of the citizens. Jayesh Ranjan supports many social, cultural and charitable causes, and is on the Boards/Advisory committees of many non-profit organizations across India.

Joy Mustafi
Joy Mustafi
Principle Applied Scientist, Microsoft India

Joy Mustafi is Principal Applied Scientist at Microsoft, Artificial Intelligence and Research, Data Science and Machine Learning. He has fifteen years of experience in industrial, research and academic world. He holds a graduate degree in Statistics from Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur and post-graduation in Computer Application from Regional Computer Center, Kolkata. He received a Research Fellowship Award in Computer and Communication Sciences from Indian Statistical Institute. Prior to his role at Microsoft he has worked with IBM for a decade as Data Scientist, and involved in the Business Analytics and Optimization, Watson Solutions, IT Operations Analytics.

At Microsoft, he has made significant contributions for development of Microsoft Bing, Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite, Microsoft Azure ML (Machine Learning), Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence), Microsoft R Open (MRAN). He is engaged as a visiting faculty member in different academic organizations, having more than twenty patents and several research publications on Cognitive Informatics and Data Science to his name.

Manish kumar
Manish Kumar
MD & CEO, National Skills Development Council

Manish Kumar is the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officerof National Skill Development Corporation. He is responsible for providing a strategic vision to NSDC in ensuring that the team moves cohesively towards achievement of Skill India Mission. Prior to joining the NSDC, he was working as Country Coordinator and Senior Institution Development Economist, Water & Sanitation Program (WSP), Water Global Practice, The World Bank. Manish earlier worked in the Indian Administrative Service, occupying many responsible positions, his last being Secretary to Government of Tripura, Power & Home Departments.

Manish holds a degree in Bachelor of Technology, Mining Machinery, from IIT (ISM), Dhanbad, Master in Public Administration from Harvard University, USA, and PhD in Public Policy from The George Washington University, Washington DC, USA.

Meera Shenoy
Meera Shenoy
Founder, Youth4jobs Foundation

Meera Shenoy is Founder-Chairperson Youth4Jobs, a five year old non-profit organization which focuses on helping companies build an inclusive workforce. She is on the Governing Council of the recently formed SCPwD (Sector council for Persons with disabilities) and the CII Committee on Special Abilities.

She was one of the few Indians to be invited to speak at the prestigious TEDxBerkeley. Meera Shenoy has over a decade experience in market linked vocational skilling of rural, tribal and disabled youth from underprivileged families. She is considered a pioneer in the country in this field and has worked in the government in senior positions, with multilateral funders and now as a Change maker. Her inspirational Book “You Can-Be Smarter & Wiser” was released at the world’s largest literary festival, the Jaipur Literacy festival on January 2016 and was on the top 20 selling list.

Mohan Sundaram
Mohan Sundaram
CEO & Founding Director, ARTILAB

Mohan has worked for over 27 years across a wide range of industries in top management/ business leadership roles with strategy and technology being the anchors. He founded ARTILAB Foundation is a first of its kind incubator and ecosystem builder for Assistive and Rehabilitation Healthcare Solutions. Our focus is to build affordable, cost effective, high impact, highly functional and appropriate solutions. He is currently mentoring start-ups at incubation centres run by IIMB (NSRCEL) and IIMA (CIIE). He has been starting up technology based businesses for over 22 years in various industries.

Mohan is an alumnus of IIM-A, holds MBA in Marketing and Systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Madras. He has filed for two patents in the Datacom space. His other interests include open source movement, education for the underprivileged, social enterprise, poetry and music He has also worked for Indian and Multi-National Corporations with global responsibilities. He has been associated with the NGO sector in disability since 2013 and deeply involved in building out a federation and innovations for disability alleviation.

Nidhi Jain
Nidhi Jain
Program Manager, Cortana Team, STC – India

Nidhi Jain works on the lists and daily planner areas in Cortana. She has spent 13 months at Microsoft and has enjoyed every moment of the journey so far. She is passionate about Artificial Intelligence and building products with a focus on inclusive design. She holds a diploma in management from IIM Ahmedabad and had studied a term at Jonkoping University, Sweden.

She practices alternative healing therapy Reiki in her free time and is passionate about acting in short films and dancing.

Prof. Chiranjib Bhattacharyya
Prof. Chiranjib Bhattacharyya
Indian Institute of Science

Chiranjib Bhattacharyya is a professor at the Department of Computer Science and Automation (CSA) at the Indian Institute of Science. He is a convenor of Machine Learning lab at the Department. His research interests are in Machine Learning, Optimization and their applications to Industrial problems. He joined the Department of CSA, IISc, in 2002. Prior to joining the Department, he was a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. He holds BE and ME degrees, both in Electrical Engineering, from Jadavpur University and the Indian Institute of Science, respectively, and completed his PhD from the Department of Computer Science and Automation, Indian Institute of Science.

Prashant Issar
Prashant Issar
Co- Founder and CEO of Squaremeal Foods

With an experience of more than 20 years in the culinary industry, Prashant Issar Co founded Squaremeal Foods Private Limited along with Anuj Shah an alumni of Hanley Business School. Together they came up with a brand new concept Mirchi and Mime. Mirchi and Mime draws inspiration from "Signs", a Toronto-based bistro which functions on a concept of hiring persons with special abilities. The restaurant focuses on creating an innovative concept while offering a cutting edge culinary experience. Their vision is to employ 500 individuals with speech and hearing impairment across 21 restaurants.

Prashant has worked in some of most prestigious restaurants in London, including Veeraswamy, Chutney Mary and the Michelin Starred Amaya. He has also worked with The Taj Group of Hotels, The Park Hotels, Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Cafe Infinito and Tiffinbox Etc. Prashant earned his degree in hotel management from the Institute in Hotel Management in 1994. He completed his MBA from Henley Business School in UK.

Prashant Ranjan Verma
Prashant Ranjan Verma
General Secretary at National Association for the Blind, Delhi

Prashant Ranjan Verma is the General Secretary at the National Association for the Blind, a leading organization striving towards the empowerment of persons with blindness, low vision and multiple disabilities. Prashant is also a consultant to the Daisy Consortium in the areas of technical support and software testing. He conducts training in Digital Talking Books production & providing support to libraries taking up digital talking books production worldwide.

Prashant is also a consultant to the Daisy Consortium in the areas of technical support and software testing. He conducts training in Digital Talking Books production & providing support to libraries taking up digital talking books production worldwide.

He is also the Chairman of Sugamya Pustakalaya which is the first national level online accessible books distribution portal developed by DAISY Forum of India with the support of Government of India.

Prashant received the NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award 2011. He was also given the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with disabilities 2007 by President.

He is credited with several innovations including the Currency Identification Device and Bank Cheque Printing Templates for the blind. He has written several books and manuals on computer training and use of technology for the visually impaired. He has launched the GoodFoodTalks, an accessible restaurant finder and menu reading app for all platforms.

Prashant received his graduation degree in Arts from Delhi University.

Pradeep Thangappan
Pradeep Thangappan
Director, Enability Foundation

Pradeep Thangappan co-founded the Enability Foundation for Rehabilitation, a non-profit organization, aiming to deliver indigenous assistive technologies to low resource settings. Enability focuses on delivering solutions that enhance the capacity of a person with disability, by providing access to education, communication, employment, daily living and recreation. Working closely with IIT Chennai Assistive Technologies Lab Enability Technologies a social enterprise, has developed iGest. iGest is a kinematic sensor based system that is designed to learn a child’s existing motor capacity through a gesture recognition algorithm. Movement is captured with a kinematic sensor (accelerometers, gyroscopes) installed in a wearable device. “iGest” – Gesture to speech for kids, wins a catalytic grant at NASSCOM Social Innovation Forum.

Rama Chari
Rama Chari
Director, Diversity & Equal Opportunity Centre (DEOC)

Rama Chari has more than two decades of work experience in the field of disability. Rama started her career as an Educator for children with disabilities in the rural community based project of Action for Ability Development & inclusion (AADI) (Formerly, Spastics Society of Northern India (SSNI). She prepared children with disabilities for integrating them into regular schools in the villages of Haryana. She then joined National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), a leading national level advocacy organization. At NCPEDP, she headed the Legislation, Networking and Communication Units. In November 2005, she took up a consultancy with Infosys BPO, for setting up their Equal Opportunity Programme.

In July 2007, she along with four other professionals set up DEOC (www.deoc.in). DEOC specializes in the areas of consulting, training, accessibility and research in inclusion of people with disabilities. They developed an HR Manual, “Values Route to Business Success – The Why & How of Employing People with disabilities”, a comprehensive book on disability employment in India. This was published by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Surabhi Srivastava
Surabhi Srivastava
Co-founder & COO of Innovision

Surabhi Srivastava is the Co-founder & COO of Innovision and leads business development for the company. She is an IIT Bombay alumnus with an integrated B.Tech & M.Tech degree in Metallurgical Engineering & Material Science. She has worked with social initiatives such as VideosForKnowledge - developing educational content for TFI low income schools, Global Shapers India (WEF initiative), and a past startup Auto-on-Call to improve income of rickshaw drivers by tech-enabling bookings real time. She has been working in the field of assistive technology for the past 1.5 years and has successfully raised investment for Innovision to the amount of INR 2.5 Crores. She has also gained validation for the project from leading institutions in the domain in both India and the US - NAB, XRVC, NBP, NFB, etc. The company has been awarded USISTEF, Sankalp Award, TiE International Startup Competition Silicon Valley under her. BrailleMe has been awarded as best ICT innovation for Accessibility by Nasscom Foundation. She has also engaged with leading Govt. and Non-Govt. institutes in India.

Shashaank Awasthi
Shashaank Awasthi
Co-founder, V-shesh

Shashaank Awasthi is co-founder of v-shesh, an award-winning impact enterprise. Along with Mr. P Rajasekharan, V-shesh was found as an impact enterprise that assists Persons with Disabilities in education, training and job placements and organizations with disability inclusion and hiring.

V-shesh is the only Asian company working on disability inclusion to be listed on inaugural Global Diversity List and was recognized with National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from President of India in December 2016.

Shashaank is also India Advisor to Gray Ghost Ventures which is a pioneer in impact investing. Shashank has extensive experience with start-ups and in financial services. He has worked with ABN Amro Bank’s in the Wholesale Bank and was a member of the team that built Commercial Banking Business in India.

Neelam Lulla
Dr. Neelam Lulla
Special Educator, Education Audiology Research Centre (EAR) and Aditya Birla Integrated School

For 20 years, she trained Hearing Impaired children to speak, and thus be integrated into normal stream of life at the EAR Center. She worked with multiple learning disabled children as a Speech Therapist at JBCN PAN Academy, Mumbai for 5 years. Dr. Neelam Lulla has been in the field of education for more than 30 years. She has conducted workshops in Cochin, Bangalore, Bhopal (Chirayu Hospital) and Shikshaa (Early Childhood Care Teacher training Centre) Mumbai.

Her years of study and work experience have taught her to provide special children with an environment that supports their academic, physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs.

Sujiv Nair
Sujiv Nair
CEO Telangana Academy of Skill and Knowledge (TASK), Government of Telangana

Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge (TASK) has been actively involved in skilling and enhancing employability quotient for youth in different districts of Telangana. TASK has embarked on a unique training program for differently-abled youth to empower them with appropriate skills and enhance their success rate in securing jobs. Let’s read on to know more about the project in positive change in a Skill Story by Sujiv Nair, CEO, TASK.

Sujiv has obtained his Graduation Degree in Chemical Technology from Osmania University and Post-Graduation Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management, post which he has completed his Master’s in Business Administration from Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU).

Prior to taking over his role as the CEO of TASK, he has worked with esteemed companies like DuPont India Private Limited, Tech Mahindra (Formerly SCSL), Dr Reddy's Laboratories Limited, Bakelite Hylam Limited and Asian Paints India Limited.

Sunil Sharma
Sunil Sharma
IAS, Commissioners, Government of Telangana

Sunil Sharma joined Indian Administrative Services in 1990. He holds a post graduate degree from the University of Allahabad and was first appointed as the Sub-Collector, Gudur, Nellore District. He currently holds the position of Principle Secretary to Government, Transport, Roads & Buildings. Prior to this role, he has worked in various state departments such as Rural Development, Urban Development, Women Self Help groups, Water shed, Women and Child Welfare, Housing, Agriculture, Industry, Panchayat Raj and Civil Supplies.

Shri. <b>Navreet Kang</b>
Shri. Navreet Kang
Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

Shri N.S. Kang joined Indian Administrative Service in 1983 and was allotted the Punjab Cadre. Prior to joining the IAS, he graduated from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and then obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Punjab University. While in service, he secured an M.Sc. in Social Policy & Planning from the London School of Economics.

Shri Kang has held various important positions in the Government of Punjab such as Financial Commissioner, Revenue; Pr. Secretary (Home); Secretary to Governor, etc. He also served in the Union Ministry of Health as a Director and then Joint Secretary, between 2000 and 2005. Prior to his joining in the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) as its Secretary, Shri Kang was holding the post of Secretary (NACO). He has also served as Additional Secretary and Director General of Central Government Health Scheme in the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Madhu Khatri
Madhu Khatri
Associate General Counsel and Accessibility Lead, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd.

Madhu Khatri is the Associate General Counsel for Microsoft India. She joined the organization in 2011 and heads Microsoft’s Legal & Corporate Affairs function for India. In her role, Madhu advises the company’s business leaders on a range of issues including IP, legal compliance, commercial and transactional matters, corporate governance, and government affairs.

Madhu in her role as the Accessibility Lead has played a pivotal role in building the ecosystem of accessibility for the non-profits in India. She has been the force behind Increasing access and training non-profits in India to achieve Accessibility at workplace by using Microsoft’s Accessible Technology and creating a tech-enabled skilling ecosystem for people with disabilities in India. Madhu has over 20 years of experience in corporate law, ranging from litigation transaction support to in-house consulting.

Narayanan Ramakrishnan
Narayanan Ramakrishnan
Software engineer

Narayanan Ramakrishnan loves building products that help people achieve their full potential. While working as a software engineer in Bangalore, he had the fortune of being a neighbor to Spastics Society of Karnataka, where he spent weekends hanging out with the children (who had cerebral palsy), helping them build cool robots with the LEGO Mindstorm Kit. When he saw kids with cerebral palsy using assistive technology to communicate and participate in classrooms, he got an idea to create assistive products. He went on to pursue a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. He worked on a lot of assistive technology projects there - a glove to help people with quadriplegia with their rehabilitation, a software plugin to help learn Sign Language and similarly themed projects. After working in Meetup.com in New York City, he moved back to Chennai to join the Avaz team - www.avazapp.com, where he was part of the team that built India’s first alternative and augmentative communication app. He has been with Avaz team for the last 5 years and currently leads the Product team there.

Rimi
Rimi Thapa
Marketing and Communication, Eye-D

A graduate from BHU and post graduate from Manipal University Majoring Communication. She loves to explore new things in life. She has taken up many social transformation projects and that’s the reason she is passionate about Eye-D. Eye-D is a mobile app cum hardware solution that leverages on the capabilities of smartphone technology (GPS, Camera etc) to enhance the lives of people with visual impairment, making it easier for them to carry out daily activities , such as choosing clothes and traveling.

She loves to travel and interact with people. Rimi is a yoga and meditation enthusiast too.

P Shiva Subhashini
P Shiva Subhashini
Founder, Memesys Culture Lab

P Shiva Subhashini is currently working as Associate Dean-Assistive Technology Lab and Student Projects at Dr. B.V. Raju Institute of Technology, Narsapur and Hyderabad, Telangana. She holds Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology from University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA and Bachelor of Technology from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad. Her areas of interest include biomedical Instrumentation and Medical Devices. She has over two years of research and corporate work experience in the US and three years in the field of Assistive Technology in India.

Shriram Parthasarathy
Shriram Parthasarathy
Digital Marketing, Microsoft India

Shri leads the social media practice for Microsoft in India and has played a key role in conceptualizing social media campaigns ground-up, leveraging social vehicles to effectively land large campaigns and enhancing brand outreach through advocacy. He comes with 7+ years of experience within the online marketing domain and has tackled its different elements across search, social, paid performance media, advertising amidst the many emerging ones. He has landed the social leg of some of the key launches like Windows 10, Office 2016, Surface, alongside some of the large content-driven thought leadership initiatives.

He’s an avid reader in and out of work and a music buff across genres and decades. Loves sampling food, places, experiences and people interactions when he’s out of his chair.

Siddharth kak
Siddharth Kak
Television Personality

Siddharth Kak is a well-known Television personality and a familiar face for Indian Television audiences nationwide, following his immensely popular cult cultural show `Surabhi’ (Fragrance), which ran for a record of 11 years at Prime Time on Indian National Television (1991-2001). Siddharth Kak’s Television Company, Cinema Vision India, has won several major Television Awards and three National Awards and has produced more than 100 documentaries and several long running Television series for leading Television Channels in India. In collaboration with the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Siddharth Kak is at present producing, hosting and telecasting a top-rated daytime show on Skills and Enterprise called HUNNARBAAZ! Mission Skill India! telecast on Doordarshan National, for the Prime Minister’s Skill Mission.

Siddharth Kak is also the Founder Trustee of the Surabhi Foundation for Research and Cultural Exchange (Surabhi FORCE) which is developing projects of National Cultural importance including a Living Heritage Centre in Navi Mumbai.

Sumana Dutta
Sumana Dutta
Founder -Director, Akshadhaa Foundation

Sumana Dutta founded the Akshadhaa Foundation – a non-profit organization in 2012. Mrs. Sumana Dutta an experienced educationist qualified Special Educator from Rehabilitation Council of India and an Art based Therapist is the Founder Trustee of Akshadhaa Foundation. She leads the team which runs the learning modules at Akshadhaa Foundation. Akshadhaa Foundation are aiming to create a meaningful learning environment in order to propel the child towards an independent life. The curriculum design is such that the child gathers the necessary life skills and attains capability to pursue a Vocation of Choice.

Kalvina Rajendran
Kalvina Rajendran
Product Coordinator at Enability Foundation for Rehabilitation

Kalvina Rajendran is the Product Coordinator at Enability Foundation for Rehabilitation, a start-up incubated with IIT Madras. An under graduate with B.Tech (Information Technology) from Anna University, Chennai and a graduate with M.S (By Research) from Vellore Institute of Technology, her research was carried out from the School of Computing Sciences and Engineering on ‘Rehabilitation Engineering’, where she worked with wearable computing techniques using a hand glove. As part of the research degree, she has ~3 years of experience in handling laboratory sessions for B.Tech, M.Tech, M.S (Software Engineering) and MCA students of various branches. She has been offered the Research Associate position at the university. Till date she has around 10 publications on research work carried out for elderly and disabled. These have been published at various International IEEE conferences and refereed journals. Since 2012, her citation by Google Scholar is 25 and her h-index is 3.

T.V. Aishwarya
T.V. Aishwarya
Vision rehabilitation Centre, L.V. Prasad Eye Institute

Aishwarya has been working at the rehabilitation counsellor at the L.V. Prasad helpline for visually impaired. In an unfortunate medical condition. She truly believes in the value of watching movies for the visually impaired, which inspired her to make a critically acclaimed audio movie “I’m possible” which was released in March 2015. This helpline aims at providing information and confidence to anyone affected by visual impairment through web and telephone-based counselling and guidance.

Aishwarya works as a dedicated tele-rehabilitation counselor and supports callers with a wide range of topics, such as psychological wellbeing, education and employment opportunities, assistive technologies etc.

<b>Zain Memon</b>
Zain Memon
Founder, Memesys Culture Lab

Zain Memon is a story-teller, media-tech specialist, futurist and Media-Producer based out of Mumbai, India. He co-founded Memesys Culture Lab, a cinema and new media studio at the intersection of science, philosophy and culture. He functions as the CTO-COO, playing a pivotal role in the virtual reality ecosystem out of the Indian subcontinent and has designed state-of-the-art workflows and immersive grammatical tools for Mixed Reality.

In the past few years, Memon has also worked on the world’s first Open Source film project for the critically acclaimed feature film, ‘Ship of Theseus’ and led the most successful crowd funding campaign India has ever seen, for the documentary feature film ‘An Insignificant Man’ which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016. His well-rounded expertise in storytelling, technology, narrative design, and ludology allows him to bridge the gap between technology and effective storytelling.



Media coverage


The event generated a lot of interest in the media. Both wires – IANS and PTI – flashed the news. More than 70 stories, 15 in print and 53 online, covering key newspapers and online portals – The Economic Times, The Times of India, The Hindu Business Line, Telangana Today, Namaste Telangana, DataQuest, India Today – Online and Outlook India – Online.

Print media

The Economic Times

MS Hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

The Hindu Business Line

New tech thats making life brighter for the visually challenged

The Financial Express

Augmenting ability with assistive tech products

The Economic Times

A Braille New World, Thanks to these Tech Startup

The New Indian Express

Life, now more Accessible

The Times of India

Microsoft India hosts Accessibility Summit

Deccan Chronicle

Microsoft meet sees ideas flow

The Hans India

Empowering the diflferently-abled

Eenadu

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit India

Telangana Today

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit India

Namaste Telangana

Accessability Summit by Microsoft - Sarthak Educational Trust

The Free Press Journal

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit for people with disabilities

Andhra Jyothy

Newer Disabilities added to the list

Sakshi

Acid attack victim also falls under disabled category

Deshbandhu

MS Hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad 

Veer Arjun

MS Hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad 

Dainik Bhaskar

MS Hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

Navbharat Times

Microsoft hosts the first Accessibility Summit

Online media

Hindustan Times

Disabled persons data of 2011 may be underestimated; actual number more higher: Official

Business Standard

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

Business Standard

Disabled persons data of 2011 may be underestimated

Deccan Chronicle

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

The Hindu

Centre to retro-fit 1,707 govt. offices

The Hindu Business Line

New tech that’s making life brighter for the visually challenged

The Indian Express

Disabled persons data of 2011 may be underestimated: Official

he New Indian Express

Accessibility at the core

Financial Express

Augmenting ability: Microsoft using AI, smart glass tech to aid differently-abled

The Economic Times

Fledgling assistive technology space gets help from startups

DNA

Disabled persons data of 2011 may be underestimated: official

Telangana Today

Microsoft India hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

Eenadu India

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

India Today

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

Outlook India

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

Outlook India

Disabled persons data of 2011 may be underestimated: official

Gadgets Now

Microsoft India hosts first-ever Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

NDTV

Disabled Persons Data Of 2011 May Be Underestimated: Official

DataQuest

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit for people with disabilities

News18

Microsoft Hosts Its First Accessibility Summit to Better Tech Access For Disabled

Punekarnews

Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India to enhance technology access for people with disabilities

BTVi

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

Silicon India

Microsoft Hosts Its First 'Accessibility Summit' In India

India.com

Microsoft hosts its first ‘Accessibility Summit’ in India

Andhravilas

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

Technuter

Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India to enhance technology access for people with disabilities

UiTV

Tech giant Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

Vishva Times

Microsoft hosts its first ‘Accessibility Summit’ in India

Daily World

Microsoft hosts its first ‘Accessibility Summit’ in India

Indus Business Journal

Microsoft hosts its first Accessibility Summit in India

Odisha Tv

Microsoft Hosts Its First ‘Accessibility Summit’ In India

Punjabtribune.com

Microsoft hosts its first ‘Accessibility Summit’ in India

India Times

Microsoft Hosts India's First Accessibility Summit For Tech Access To The Differently-Abled

Sify.com

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

The India News 24

Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India

SMTV 24/7 News

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

Hi India

MICROSOFT HOSTS ITS FIRST ‘ACCESSIBILITY SUMMIT’ IN INDIA

The First Mail

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

Scoopster

Microsoft Hosts India's First Accessibility Summit For Tech Access To The Differently-Abled

Channel Drive

Bridging Tech Divide: Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit in India

First News

Microsoft hosts Accessibility Summit in Hyderabad

Munsif Tv

Microsoft Hosts Accessibility Summit In Hyderabad

Hans India

Empowering the differently-abled

Nyooz

Centre to retro-fit 1,707 govt. offices

The Rahnuma Daily

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

SQL with Manoj

Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India to enhance technology access for people with disabilities

Gizmodo

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

iTVoice

Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India to enhance technology access for people with disabilities

SME Channels

Microsoft takes a noble cause; hosts Summit to enhance technology access for disables

Techspot

Microsoft hosts its first 'Accessibility Summit' in India

CIOL

Microsoft Accessibility Summit in India to empower people with disabilities

Technosvit

Microsoft Hosts Its First Accessibility Summit to Better Tech Access For Disabled

Tech2

Microsoft holds “Accessibility Summit” in India to boost tech access for disabled people

Mobility India

Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India

VarIndia

Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India

itVARnews

Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India to enhance technology access for people with disabilities



#ThinkAccessAbility


Social media activity around the event was also very high. Facebook Live videos received tremendous views and engagement. On Twitter, in addition to tweets by Microsoft India and Microsoft employees, content by participants generated a lot of buzz as well.

Read the posts on Facebook and Twitter.

Media tweet

Media-tweet1 Media-tweet2

Influencer tweet

Influencer tweet 01 Influencer tweet 02 Influencer tweet 03

Twitter overview

Twitter overview


Microsoft Philanthropies in India is committed to India's inclusive growth and are enthused by the government's recognition of the role technology plays in bridging the digital divide. Our focus is to build a digitally-literate, technology-powered, future-ready workforce in India, with a focus on the underserved, under represented and marginalized communities, particularly young women and youth with disabilities. In India, we invest our greatest assets — our technology, people, grants, and voice — to create an ecosystem of change and advance a more equitable society, where the benefits of technology are accessible to everyone. Please write to Manju Dhasmana (manjud@microsoft.com) and Chitra Sood (csood@microsoft.com) to connect.