This article was first published in ‘White Print’ – a braille magazine for the visually impaired, founded and published by Upasana Makati.
Inclusion in every aspect of life is the need of the hour. We as a society talk about it at various levels taking note of the urgency of implementing everything right from basic mobility facilities to education, entertainment and more. One of the advocates of inclusivity- Vidhya Kalyani Ramasubban, tells us more about her venture Kickstart Cabs that provides safe, dignified and comfortable travel for people with disability.
What Kickstarted Kickstart Cabs?
I have had the experience of working in the disability sector and that brings in the awareness of the needs and issues surrounding the same. I wanted to do something different and thought this might be a useful service and an interesting area to venture into. My partner Srikrish has an IT industry background and was keen on doing something different too. That’s how we started Kickstart. Mphasis Foundation is funding this venture now and IITB is currently mentoring the programme.
Significance Of Being Inclusive In A Society Like Ours!
In our Indian culture, people still believe in charity when it comes to persons with disabilities- I somehow feel if charity prevails, then inclusion will not. It is easier to ‘help’ and make donations, rather than ensure inclusive education, or employment for persons with disabilities. In fact, the same goes for inclusion of any marginalized community, be it the poor or disabled, sexual minorities or others. I think its high time people started seeing the benefits of inclusion. Having said this, things are changing slowly, but surely, thanks to all the work put in by NGOs and persons with disabilities themselves.
Sensitized Drivers And Modified Cabs
We train drivers on various aspects that are important for a driver. We run modules on disability and show them how to assist our users. So far we have been lucky to have drivers who are empathetic to our customers. In fact, because of the ‘helping’ nature in our culture, we find that drivers try to help more than required. We of course help them understand what they should do in every situation.
We have two types of modifications for all the vehicles. The first one entails a ramp vehicle for those who are permanent wheelchair users, and the other has an in-built wheelchair in the vehicle. This helps people who do not have their own wheelchairs, senior citizens and others who find it difficult in getting in and out of the vehicle.
Happy Customers After A Happy Ride
By and large I think our customers are happy that an unmet need of theirs is being served. They are now able to travel with comfort and dignity. There is also a sense of independence they feel, as they now do not have to depend on their families and friends for their commute to offices, grocery stores or any other place they want to visit.
We are keen on employing people with challenges as well, but have been unsuccessful in hiring any yet. In the long run, we would like to be as diverse as possible, employing persons with disabilities, transgender and other marginalized groups in our organization. We hope to consolidate in Bangalore this year and then move to other cities in India. Within the next five years, we hope to expand to about nine cities in India.
Team KYS wishes Vidhya and the team of Kickstart Cabs the best of luck in their future plans, for when initiatives like these sustain, there is just a little extra hope in the world!
Liked reading this? Then you might also like to read Krutika Janginmhat – The Flute Prodigy’s Tryst With Soulful Music