As of March 2018, only three per cent of all Indian buildings were said to be accessible to the differently abled. Apart from the sorry state of the country’s infrastructure, another glaring problem with respect to India’s large differently-abled community is the scarcely addressed issue of the lack of social inclusion. Inclov is changing that with their inclusive nightlife meet-ups for the differently abled.
Inclov, in January 2016, started off as an inclusive matchmaking platform and aimed to do away with the stigma attached to dating within the differently abled community and society in general. “I was travelling when I started thinking about how people treat disabled people as outsiders, which makes these people feel alienated for social interaction. I decided to work more on this passing thought and came up with the matching making agency. After two years, we crowdfunded 10,000 dollars in two months, thanks to 123 global backers and launched an app that could connect disabled people,” said Kalyani Khona, CEO and Co-founder of Inclov, while talking about the inception of Inclov. Inclov aims to provide a safe space for the differently abled. Their app reflects the same ideology and includes special features that allow people with visual impairment, retinal disorder, cerebral palsy and colour blindness, among many others problems, to use it with ease.
In the past, Inclov has organised multiple meet-ups for the differently abled, but have recently ventured into making the nightlife experience more accessible. “In 2017, I met this guy who was on a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury. He wanted to be DJ and spoke to me about how it was very difficult for him to network and reach out to bars or clubs or people to be able to land a gig. Something about the conversation and the fact that he couldn’t do something he loved really moved me, and that is how the idea of inclusive nightlife meet-ups came about,” said Shankar Srinivasan, COO and co-founder of Inclov.
The first nightlife meet-up organised by Inclov was held in June 2017, at Kitty Su, Delhi. The number of people that turned up for the event took even the organisers by surprise. “That was the biggest turnout we’d ever seen. There were close to 200 people and at one point we had to politely ask people to stop registering. We literally had to shut down registrations,” recalled Srinivasan. He goes on to talk about the overwhelming response that they received following this meet-up. “It was the first time (clubbing) for a lot of people. There was everything you’d expect at a normal night out — alcohol, food, dance, music and the works. I remember every response. There were people who had travelled for over seven to eight hours and some even overnight to make it to the event. There were people who said that this had been the best night of their lives. We got requests from people to host these all over India. The response was phenomenal.”
Before any event, Inclov works with venues to ensure they are accessible. Ramps, handles and other such means of assistance are installed, bathroom use is made as differently abled friendly as possible. They also have sign language interpreters on site to ensure that the event is as inclusive as possible and train the management of the venue to help familiarise them with the concept of disability and at the same time sensitize them. Srinivasan throws light on how these events are beneficial for the venues the events are held at as well. “This opens doors for venues to cater to an entirely new consumer market. The events help create awareness about venues that do not discriminate. It is beneficial for all parties involved,” said Srinivasan.
Inclov’s basic objective is to drive people out of their shells and give them an opportunity to interact more and subsequently make new friends. “We don’t make them feel special just normal,” said Srinivasan. Srinivasan emphasises on how the platform is “inclusive” meaning that it doesn’t specifically cater to the differently abled and is open to all.
Inclov is growing as an organisation and at an alarming rate at that. They organising close to 100 inclusive meet-ups next year, which is exponentially high when compared to this year’s events — 30 in all. They are also looking to expand and cater to international markets with Australia and the UK in the pipeline as of now.
Inclov is organising meet-ups at Delhi and Bangalore in October, 2018. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
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