Swathi Vellal Raghunandan
. India . joined October, 2021

Swathi Vellal Raghunandan

About

I am the Founder, Director of Ishanya India Foundation, an organization working with individuals with special needs in Bangalore.

I have been working with individuals with Autism Spectrum disorder from the beginning of my career. Apart from special education, I work very closely with parents especially mothers counseling them on various aspects of the diagnosis, caregiving a child with special needs, empowering them by bringing in the importance of self-compassion while caregiving.

I have done several podcasts on mental health for a health and fitness company called Curefit.

I am a very keen researcher and have presented papers in various national and international seminars and published a paper on ‘Autism and echolalia’ in the Good Autism Practice Journal of the British Institute of Learning Disabilities. I also have a chapter named ' Inclusion of Young People with Autism Spectrum Disorder at Workplace: Challenges & Strategies' published in the book "Disability and Inclusion: from rationale to reality".

I have previously worked with the Autism Society of India, Bangalore zone, and Abhaya psychiatric hospital. I am also a trustee member of Premaanjali foundation working which works towards the empowerment of visually impaired individuals & socio-economically disadvantaged groups.

I was awarded the Outstanding Social Service award in 2018 by MTC Global, an UN-recognized organization. I have given various talks on disability awareness for radio and TV channels.

View Details

    • City :
    • Bengaluru South

    • State :
    • Karnataka

    • Category :
    • Social Entrepreneur

    • Email ID:
    • swathi@ishanyaindia.org

    • Profession:
    • Special educator/Psychologist

    • Education
    • MSc Clinical Psychology, MA special educational needs & Inclusion

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Project Details

 There are two projects we are currently working on:

1. Relevant employment for  adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities 

There are a staggering 2.68 cr individuals with different forms of disabilities in India as per the last census and this number has only been growing, a large chunk of whom are young adults and adults. The biggest question that any parent would have is, how soon can their child be financially and socially independent? and an even bigger question of what after us? Although an open employment model would be ideal and inclusive, it may not always be best suited, especially for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Breaking the barriers and sustaining, at a typical workplace can be quite daunting. Instead, a supported employment model may be best suited for individuals who may be good at their work but have other challenges that require a more understanding, accommodative support system – A system where these individuals can focus on their work and get help as and when they need it and not worry about dealing with the added pressure that comes with any open employment model. Manufacturing candles, paper bags, paper plates, etc... have been the choice of employment for individuals with disabilities, especially those with neurodevelopmental conditions. However, these may not be sustainable in the long run.

Technology, art, and design have been evolving for the past several years and they will continue to drive job markets in the years to come especially considering the present situation. This is where we see a great opportunity. Our idea is to create a design & multimedia services company that will predominantly be run by neurodiverse individuals. We aim to nurture the skills of these individuals and offer products and services that can compete with the existing market. 

 

2. Capacity building of caregivers/educators from tier 2, tier 3 cities on neurodevelopmental disabilities

In the recent past, we have seen a lot more parents coming forward to talk about their children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and wanting to receive help in tier-2,3 cities. Although awareness is improving, the lack of well-trained professionals is hindering the process of providing quality support to these individuals.

Since the pandemic, a lot more companies are also coming forward to train and employ individuals who are neurodiverse, with the work from home model in mind.

The capacity building program also aims to further empower the trainers and caregivers to identify and train these individuals and provide a source of livelihood for them.

Achievements

Key achievements of the organization: 

1. After receiving relevant training, our students were able to digitize & complete the data entry of 500 + forms of SVTC trust.

2. We were part of a unique data annotation project from a start-up called ‘Superbolter’ who is in the space of interior designing which involved our students mapping and annotating hundreds of floor plans of various size and scale. This was an exclusive project which has never been tried with any individual with neurodevelopmental disability. The training and experience they received during this project can open up doors for new opportunities in the future.

3. Our students who are pursing design and multimedia training got an opportunity to work on a design project for two well-known MNCs. This opportunity helped the students understand the concept of client requirements, project deadlines, design language, and remuneration. Students have been able to execute various other design projects post this experience.

4. As a part of the larger collective, 11 of our students got an opportunity to be part of the one-of-a-kind work from home autism spectrum internship program at Thomson Reuters. Phase 1 of internship is completed and phase 2 is in progress. 4 of the interns have now been selected for full-time employment. Similarly, 8 students are presently undergoing employability and technical training for an internship opportunity at Wells Fargo. This will be an extended training and internship program transitioning to full-time employment based on their performance.

5. During June 2021, we got an opportunity to conduct a Hackathon for 40+ interns of Intuit India to develop applications relating to accessibility, communication & awareness for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

6. We have designed an online game – Digital Escape Room to help create awareness on various disabilities. The game is presently being utilized on multiple platforms. o As part of the world autism awareness day program, our founder Ms. Swathi Vellal was invited to be part of a talk show on Doordarshan (Chandana) to discuss and spread more awareness on autism, it’s red flag signs, features, interventions, coping strategies for parents and opportunities for livelihood.

7. Founder - Ms. Swathi Vellal was awarded the MTC global (a UN recognized organization) award in 2018 for Outstanding Social Service. Swathi also has two publications- one in Good Autism Practice journal of British Institute of Learning Disabilities & a chapter in a book named Disability and Inclusion

8. Three of our educators were awarded “Distinguished teacher” and “Extraordinary teacher” award by rotary club

Complete Business Details

Ishanya India Foundation (IIF) is an organization intending to train and empower neurodiverse individuals.

In the past few years, IIF has established itself as a renowned name in the disability sector through its collaborations, programs & wide range of services. Our programs cater to individuals with different diagnoses and varied age groups. We use computers along with other forms of digital medium to empower these individuals and offer programs in digital designing, photo-editing, web-designing apart from other special education-related programs.

Our team of therapists and educators is dedicated to leveraging the potential of each and every individual who comes to us. We aim to work along with families, educators, schools & organizations as we believe in the holistic development of the individual. We also aim to train these individuals for employment and independent living. 

As part of the placement training module, we work on equipping individuals on communication, attending interviews, building resumes, handling work pressure, meeting deadlines etc. Apart from various hands-on methodologies & special education-related techniques, we also use various digital mediums to impart our curriculum. As part of the Spruha program, we also train our students on the basics of computers & Microsoft office (Word, Power point & Excel) & depending on the enthusiasm & inclination of the individual, some of them are also trained on digital designing, illustrations, photo-editing, web-designing & various other skills.

We are committed towards establishing a leading solution for businesses who aspire to hire individuals with disabilities. We not only offer workshops on disability, senior leaders/managers’ sensitization programs but also hand hold the company in the entire recruiting process, we also assist with job analysis and post placement support. We aim to be the bridge between the corporate world and the differently abled community & our intention is to change the mind-set, address the fears & doubts and bust the myths around issues related to employing individuals with disabilities.  

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