Differently-abled employees in India

Exploring disABILITY

News - India & You


October 15, 2016

/ By / New Delhi

India & You

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Though many organisations in India are ignorant about the inclusion and rehabilitation of disable persons, various others are recognising the need to tap the differently-abled population; despite the challenges.

Show off your muscles for ordering a strong coffee, adjust the size of your fingers to show the size of your cup and make a shape of a house with both your palms for a take-away order. Easy and interesting, right?

Upon entering the Costa Coffee outlet in Green Park, South Delhi, it seems like just another coffee house, but it takes a while to notice that it is operated by hearing and speech impaired employees.

“It is my favourite hangout cafe and has a special place in my heart. Every time I go there, it makes me happy,” says Rishabh Kapoor, a student of Amity University, Delhi NCR.

Not only Costa, but many other cafes, restaurants and retail outlets like Lifestyle, KFC, Hyper City, Max, Dominos, Reliance retail, Cafe Coffee Day are taking up the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in a noble form of employing people with disabilities as cashiers, attendants, executives, store administrators and merchandisers who welcome you with their infectious smiles.

Cafe Coffee Day too, has tied up with various NGOs to work out avenues to employ a greater number of differently-abled people. Hundreds of speech and hearing impaired people are employed at their cafes, and are popularly called ‘silent brew masters’.

“We train youth with disabilities from poor homes, mostly from villages. They are taken through a 60-days module. This includes English communication, soft skills, life skills and digital literacy. Depending on their aptitude, education and aspirations we give them sector-specific training like tally, hospitality, retail or ITES. Mornings begin with yoga and meditation and the sessions are fun-filled and interactive. We teach English through songs and for the speech and hearing impaired, we have sign language trainers. Companies participate in our trainings by giving guest lectures, their videos and modules and then hiring,” says Meera Shenoy, founder of Youth4Jobs Foundation, which is a non-profit NGO that sets up placement-linked skilling centres for youth with disability.


According to a recent report by United Nations, India is home to more than 100 million disabled citizens but only 100,000 of them are successful in obtaining employment.

What could possibly be more handicapped than a mind that refuses to acknowledge talent? Even after the Persons with Disability Act, 1995 in India mandates 3 pc reservation for differently-abled in government jobs, the opportunities are still poorly lit.

The government is not able to fulfil the requirements of 3 pc job quota for disabled population, ramp to improve working conditions, help improve the educational level and eliminate any form of discrimination.

Along with this, the infrastructure in India is not well-equipped for the differently-abled people to travel and work. For instance, the standard size of the workstations may be too high or too low for people with wheelchairs and crutches.

Also, transportation facilities for pick and drop are not provided to the employees in all organisations and for them, it may be difficult to travel alone, especially with the poor conditions of roads and public transports.

“Many companies in India are ignorant about the inclusion and disability. There is confusion about whether it is expensive to hire. Also, the differently-abled youth have low self-esteem since their parents and society believe they are useless and unemployable. The situation is worse if you are a girl,” added Meera.

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