Wednesday, 13th January 2016: Network of Organizations Working with People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP) launched its new initiative called the “Accessible Cycle Design Challenge” (ACDC) at an event held at a private hotel.
The event brought together representatives from non-profit and community organizations, donor agencies, government, corporations, media and engineering and architectural educational institutes. Esteemed dignitaries such as Mr. Tuaha Farooqui, Secretary Transport – Government of Sindh; Mr. Khayam Hussain, CEO – Automobile Corporation of Pakistan and Mr. Shahid Abdulla, Principal Architect – Arshad Shahid Abdulla graced the event with their presence and added their valuable insights.
The hostess, Ms. Khadija Zia, Assistant – The Rickshaw Project, welcomed the valued guests and showed a video of Vishal Kumar, an employee with a physical disability at NOWPDP, to illustrate how mobility solutions can change the life persons with disabilities. Vishal also addressed the audience after this, speaking about the challenges he faces with his tricycle.
Mr. Amin Hashwani, President NOWPDP, spoke about the urgency with which actions need to be taken to mainstream persons with disabilities, given that there are as many persons with disabilities as the population of Karachi. He gave the audience an overview of NOWPDP, including its past projects and current programs, and touched upon the need for this Design Challenge. To ensure sustainability of the project, he mentioned that this Challenge will be followed by Prototype Development and Market Availability to ensure the final product is made available to its beneficiaries. Mr. Hashwani’s ending remarks were “Perceptions need to be revised and success stories established – so sympathy evolves to empathy and apathy becomes social action”.
Mr. Amin Andani, Program Manager – The Rickshaw Project, narrated the case of Abdullah, a person with a physical disability in Baldia Town, who was being forced by his family to beg and after being given a three-wheeled motorbike, became an entrepreneur selling fish. In Mr. Andani’s words “He had to go far out of his home to discover that he was not that disabled after all”. While elaborating on the Design Challenge, Mr. Andani said “Global accessibility experts belonging to prestigious institutes such as MIT and Stanford University are part of this challenge as Jury members and it is an excellent opportunity for Pakistanis to design a cycle that can impact millions of lives”.
Mr. Tuaha Farooqi pledged support to NOWPDP for its initiatives and said his department would welcome and work towards incorporating recommendations (by NOWPDP and other organizations) for accessible transport and infrastructure. Mr. Shahid Abdulla stressed on the need for accessible buildings and infrastructure, for instance with ramps at the correct angle. A question and answer session marked the end of the event which was followed by refreshments, networking and interviews with media personnel.
The Accessible Cycle Design Challenge, running nationwide from 1st January to 31st March 2016, aims to identify the most accessible and affordable cycle design that enhances the mobility of people with lower-limb impairments and will reward the winner with PKR. 200,000. The challenge is open to all and requires interested participants to register latest by February 15, 2016 submit their designs latest by March 31, 2016.