These entrepreneurs say that though most people view disabled-friendly services as a charitable business, these companies can be run on sound economic principles. The lack of competition in the market also makes the sector attractive.
Most of her friends are studying or hunting for a job, but 21-year-old Kalyani Khona started a matchmaking agency last month called Wanted Umbrella that specifically caters to people with disabilities.
There are over four crore disabled people in the country and not even 20 lakh of them are married, according to Khona. She also said that this problem is not confined to people with physical or mental disabilities, but affects even those who seem physically fine, but have issues related to the heart or their kidneys.
For annual fee of Rs 3,000, clients get to attend events, group lunches or dinners, and other mixers that give differently-abled single people the chance to meet.
“Usually, specially-abled people don’t interact with a lot of others," Khona said. "Neither do they have enough exposure to the outside world. So they barely meet new people. And marriage is something that even their own families don’t give a whole lot of consideration.”
Modified cabs for travel
Vidhya Ramasubban, another Bangalore entrepreneur, runs a cab service that is disabled-friendly. From December 2013, Kickstart cabs have catered to 15-20 disabled people every day.
At present they only have three such modified cabs, but there are plans to expand as demand is growing. People with disabilities do not wish to be dependent on others if they want to get out of the house for any reason. Ramasubban says that these modified cabs allow them to travel conveniently and safely, without needing a family member to monitor them.
The cab service provides pick-up and drop facilities to the hospital, which comes as a great help for those who have to take tests, or attend physiotherapy programmes. It also caters to differently-abled people who are visiting the city to commute, and specially-abled schoolchildren.
Psychological studies have shown that the ability to move, and commute can lift 50% of the depression of being disabled and dependent.
First Braille magazine in English
Last May, the visually-impaired community in India got their first English magazine in Braille, called White Print. At Rs 30, the monthly magazine covers politics, food, travel, music and Bollywood. It now has a readership of 300.
The magazine also contains reviews of audio books, information about gadgets, and short stories, said founder and publisher Upasana Makati.
Several companies manufacture equipment or modify cars to make them disabled-friendly. they include companies like Wheelchair India and Mobility Aids Sales.
Modifying a car for a wheelchair-bound person involves removing the pedals, clutch, brake and accelerator from the floor and bringing them up to the level of the steering wheel. People with right limb disabilities can use a manual transmission vehicle fitted with a hand-operated brake and accelerator. Those with a left limb disability can use an automatic transmission vehicle without any alterations or a manual transmission vehicle fitted with hand operated clutch.
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