My experience at the International Purple Fest 2024

My International Purple Fest Experience

I had the opportunity to attend the International Purple Fest in Goa for the second time from January 10th to 13th, 2024. It was an amazing experience that exceeded my expectations. The event was very well organized and offered a lot of activities and sessions for people with disabilities and their allies.

On the first day, I visited some stalls that showcased the work of NIMHANS on mental health, various assistive technologies for different disabilities, and the initiatives of SBI Foundation, XRCVC, and Union Bank of India. I gave some feedback to some assistive technology start-ups on how to make their products and solutions more user-friendly and affordable. I also met some people with disabilities who produce high-quality mainstream products such as perfumes.

Then I attended a discussion on the work done by the Office of the Chief Commissioner, Disabilities and State Commissioners from across the country, facilitated by the Mission Accessibility team. It was good to see some impressive work in some states like Meghalaya. However, some states were still inactive and focused on outdated issues like pension and reservations.

On the second day, I attended a panel discussion hosted by the National Centre for Employment of Disabled People, moderated by Ms. Shilpi Kapoor, Founder of BarrierBreak. It was good to learn about the Assistive Technology (AT) Hub and the potential of scaling up the AT ecosystem. I was also happy to see that Nobaflix, an OTT platform that provides audio described movies for users with vision impairment, is growing.

On the third day, I attended an “Accessibility Standards” session hosted by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and learned a lot about IS 17802. I am looking forward to spreading awareness about this standard across the country in the coming months.

On the fourth day, I visited some more stalls and spent time with many old friends and made some new connections.

I had mixed feelings about my trip to Goa for the International Purple Fest, a unique event that celebrates the diversity and inclusion of people with disabilities. On one hand, I was impressed by the efforts of the Government of Goa and the volunteers who organized and participated in the fest. On the other hand, I was disappointed by the lack of awareness and sensitivity among some local businesses, especially the cruise where we had dinner one night.

The Purple Fest was a wonderful experience, full of productive conversations and learning opportunities. The volunteers, mostly college students, were energetic, enthusiastic and respectful. They showed genuine interest and curiosity in the area of disability and how to make the world more accessible and inclusive for everyone. I enjoyed interacting with them and sharing my perspectives and experiences.

The cruise dinner, however, was a different story. The staff at the cruise were not sensitized to how to support guests with disabilities. They did not offer any assistance or accommodation, and they were not willing to learn or listen. They seemed to view us as a burden or a nuisance, rather than as valued customers. This triggered a thought in me that while the Government of Goa has made great efforts for the International Purple Fest, it is important for them to spend some time on sensitizing local businesses as well. Otherwise, the message of inclusion and empowerment will not reach the wider society.

I hope that next year, when I return to Goa for the Purple Fest, I will see more positive changes and improvements in the local hospitality industry. I also hope that more people will join us in celebrating the diversity and inclusion of people with disabilities. Congratulations to the team at Government of Goa and looking forward to next year.

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