How India Inc. is adapting to become friendlier to physically handicapped employees
Ramesh met with a serious accident four years ago, while going home from his engineering college. Due to loss of excessive blood and the grievous nature of injuries, he lost one of his legs. The accident changed his life completely. From a promising career in the booming Information Technology sector, he had to learn how to walk all over again. After an additional year to complete his engineering course, Ramesh was ready to enter the job market, but to his surprise, found it difficult to get a job.
India has 2.68 crores people with disabilities, both physical and mental, as per the Census conducted in 2011. However, estimates by the World Bank and the World Health Organization put the figure at over 7 crores. Ramesh could be considered among the luckier ones as he was able to complete his technical education, which made him eligible for an IT job. A majority of physically handicapped people suffer due to a lack of access to public spaces and educational institutes. The pattern repeats itself when they try to enter the corporate world. But conscious steps being taken by certain companies may change prospects for the physically handicapped.
Handicapped friendly steps taken by India Inc
The physically handicapped workforce in the country faces a unique set of challenges. The two most basic problems are of access and awareness. Workplaces in the country lack disable-friendly infrastructure. Many companies are, however, making adequate changes to workplaces to make access easier for physically handicapped people. The installation of physical infrastructure like ramps and handicapped-friendly washrooms has been undertaken. The need for better access does not end with basic accessibility.
Companies in the retail and quick-service restaurant sector are one of the biggest employers of physically handicapped people in the country. To make the workplace People with Disability-friendly, sound alert systems have been replaced by visual alarm systems. For instance, earlier if a food item was ready to be served, a buzzer used to sound an alarm, but an employee with a hearing disability would not be able to hear the alarm. Buzzers have been replaced by red lights, to make the workplace PwD-friendly. Many companies in consumer-facing segments have modified the entire order placing process to make it handicapped-friendly.
Besides accessibility, a health insurance plan plays an important role in the life of a physically handicapped employee. A health insurance policy safeguards against medical emergencies and can also help physically handicapped people get tax benefits. Disabled employees can claim deduction under Section 80D and 80U of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Along with individual health insurance policies, corporate majors are also offering insurance cover as part of physically handicapped employee benefits. While no one can predict an accident, you can definitely get a protective net in advance. One can get a customized Bajaj Allianz Health Insurance policy easily through Finserv MARKETS in a few simple steps. The policy covers all the expenses if the insured meets an unfortunate accident and gets physically handicapped.
A lack of awareness on the part of employers as well as customers played an important part in the exclusion of physically handicapped people from the mainstream. People with disability are often considered incapable, unskilled and unemployable due to popular social attitudes. However, the reality is starkly different. On one hand, the use of assistive technologies have nullified the impact of disability, on the other, physical capabilities are not an important factor in certain sectors like information technology. Companies are tackling the lack of awareness at two levels. They have started conducting in-house peer sensitization workshops and have also tied up with organizations that work with handicapped people. These organizations offer services like adaptive and inclusive leadership workshop for people in senior management, disability sensitization workshops, peer sensitization workshops and also help with the interview process.
With consumers becoming more conscious, an organization giving equal opportunities to physically handicapped people is seen in a positive light. Indian companies with inclusive workplaces have reported similar productivity levels and customer engagement. Despite a variety of steps taken by the corporate sector, a lot more can be done to include handicapped people. More companies should offer insurance coverage as physically handicapped employee benefits. Besides those with disabilities, other employees should be informed of the importance of having a health insurance policy in the event of an accident. Anyone can buy Bajaj Allianz Health Insurance through Finserv MARKETS from the comfort of his/her home. Bajaj Health Insurance policy offers cashless treatment at over 6500 hospitals and the claims are promptly settled. The policy provides a protective shield to the insured and covers the expenses arising out of any unforeseen circumstances that lead to disability.
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