IT COULDN'T HAVE BEEN timed better. In late August, when the London 2012 Paralympics opened to 1,100 athletes with disabilities, back in Bangalore technology consulting firm Accenture turned the spotlight on Jobability.org, its website for persons with disabilities. This comes at a time when less than 3% of India’s 70 million disabled people are employed, according to 2011 World Health Organization and World Bank data.
The portal, which is part of Accenture’s CSR initiatives, informs persons with disabilities about openings in organisations, and connects with them. At the same time, companies that want to hire skilled persons with disabilities can reach them via the portal, created and developed in the Bangalore office of Cheshire Disability Trust, the local partner of the British Leonard Cheshire Disability. Information on opportunities and the talent pool is sourced by the trust, which collects updates from its 13 livelihood resource centres in South Asia, including seven in India. Accenture has funded the initiative, manages its back end, and is also helping it scale up.
The portal is accessible in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. “While there are job websites in these countries, they aren’t specifically targeted at people with disabilities,” says Aqueel Merchant, lead of Accenture Business Services in India.
It has been designed keeping multiple disabilities in mind, including poor vision. The interface is in white and blue, a visually-friendly combination. Accenture is now readying software that can read the text out as well and enable speech recognition so that users can talk to the portal.
Its menu has features such as ‘current jobs’, listing the firms that have registered. After logging into the portal, there is a drop-down that specifies disabilities. You can register as a job seeker or a recruiter, and search for jobs by industry, keywords, etc.
“It is still not completely tested for scale,” says Rekha M. Menon, executive director for geographic services, Accenture India & ASEAN. “The idea is that it should be self-sustaining.”
Sample this. India’s leading jobs-classifieds site Naukri.com has a registered user base of 31 million, of which 660,000 (a little above 2%) comprise persons with disabilities. A third have been active in the past year, which means they regularly check their profiles and update résumés. More than 27,000 of Naukri’s 220,000 active persons with disabilities applied for openings in finance; another 19,000 applied for production and maintenance jobs; 7,600 for engineering design. Accounts and software are the most attractive industries—each comprising 9% of the user base.
Since Jobability.com went live in May, over 100 resumes have been uploaded and five companies have registered to advertise jobs. It’s a modest start but proposed tie-ups with Naukri.com and TimesJobs.com will result in a wider pool.
Right now, it’s just a question of opening the door—ultimately, people with disabilities will make their way, says Aruna Rangachar Pohl, national director, Cheshire Disability Trust. “The onus is equally on the company as well as the employee.”