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Helping look beyond disabilities: Namma Vaani

Namma Vaani is an IVR platform provided by Enable India. Run on Gram Vaani’s (OnionDev) Mobile Vaani platform, it caters to the information needs of persons with disabilities and has been piloted in Karnataka.

His exams only a few days away, Nagesh was in a quandary. As a visually impaired person, he needed a scribe to help him write his exams. Unable to find anyone in his community, Nagesh was relying on communicating his requirement through word of mouth and hoped he would find a scribe in time.

That’s when he heard of Namma Vaani, an IVRS platform on the Mobile Vaani system for persons with disabilities.

The Namma Vaani platform was initiated in March 2016 by Enable India, an organisation working to mainstream livelihood opportunities for persons with disability. Built in collaboration with Gram Vaani (OnionDev), Namma Vaani today receives over 400 calls everyday averaging 1 call every 2 minutes[1]. Nagesh used Namma Vaani, identified a scribe and was able to write his exams without any hindrances.

Social networking for persons with disabilities

Nearly 70 per cent of people with disabilities in India live in rural areas, with limited access to information related to disabilities or livelihood/education opportunities. Since many of them find it difficult to access public spaces they are unable to interact with others, share experiences or get information about relevant opportunities.

Namma Vaani is an audio-based social media platform to support the needs of persons with disabilities – to share stories, opportunities and ideas. The platform enables persons with disabilities to learn about job opportunities, engage with mobility-related topics or share experiences. It is also for NGOs, businesses and government organisations that wish to launch interventions for persons with disabilities, share job opportunities or increase awareness of their products. To ensure last-mile connectivity, Namma Vaani also works with government-appointed village rehabilitation workers spread across Karnataka.

Namma Vaani is a like a combination of Facebook and LinkedIn specially targeted at persons with disabilities who have access to a mobile phone but may not connected to the Internet. By leveraging the mobile phone revolution, Namma Vaani aims to reach the unreached corners of Karnataka and help persons with disabilities live a life of dignity.

Take the case of Jagadeesh, a visually impaired person from the Bijapur district of Karnataka. A regular Namma Vaani caller, Jagadeesh received information about possible vacancies in L&T through the discussion forum on Namma Vaani. He has since secured a job with L&T in Bengaluru.

Namma Vaani also encourages users to share their life experiences. This facilitates an attitudinal change in society. A recent example is the story of Rajkumar from Kalaburagi district, who took tips from the Self-Employment section on Namma Vaani to set up his own business for wedding photography. Stories such as these help challenge existing attitudes about disability and focus attention on the ability of the person to perform a certain task.

Taking the success forward

Enable India focuses on building an inclusive society by mainstreaming persons with disability. The success of Namma Vaani also stems from its inclusivity, enabling people without disabilities to interact with, hear and understand opinions and ideas of persons with disabilities.

Speaking about its success, Dipesh Sutariya, CEO, Enable India, said, “The Namma Vaani platform fills a much-needed gap in connecting persons with disabilities with opportunities and encouragement. The rapid growth of the number of users of the platform and the involvement of the community in sharing information on the platform show the value it can bring to society. In 2017, we wish to scale up the platform to reach a wider audience across multiple states, by involving more NGOs. Currently, plans are ongoing to expand the project to at least two more states in the Hindi-speaking belt in India.”

Namma Vaani has much potential to succeed in other states, given the large gap that exists in reaching people with disabilities with information relevant to them; says Sutariya: “Namma Vaani acts as a catalyst for persons seeking employment, like an aggregator for support services and as a disseminator of information – a truly one-stop platform to support persons with disabilities.”


[1] Data as of February 2017

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