Dialogue in the Dark India 2.0

DiD Hyderabad in India was among the first venues which was heavily affected by the pandemic and had to close after a decade of operation.

Group photo of the Dialogue in the Dark team Mumbai at the entrance to their premisis.
Photo of part of the Dialogue in the Dark team Mumbai in front of a banner announcing the exhibiton.

But after two years we got great news: our partners in India are about to reopen DiD!

So, I talked To Ananth, chief operating officer to know more.

DSE: How did you make it to re-open a venue in India only couple of years after closing?

Ananth: Corporate India is now in a very focussed pace in terms of championing disability diversity & inclusion in the workplace.

In the past, various initiatives have been implemented to evoke this social change but it has resulted in unsustainable results. Therefore, an unconventional learning experience like DiD becomes the much-needed resource to enable the paradigm shift at a mindset level towards empathy, which is the most significant step towards an inclusive culture.

DID India, over the last 10 years, has touched so many lives especially corporate leaders, which in turn have created an aspiration and an inspiration value to adopt the concept through their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives or Diversity & Inclusion initiatives to enhance Diversity & Inclusion quotient of their organisation in a much powerful and sustainable manner.

One such significant game changer in the country is State Bank of India, which has partnered with DID India and extended their generous support in re-activating this second phase of our social impact through their SBI Foundation.

DSE: How did you manage to pursue DiD mission despite of having no active DiD venue?

Ananth: The only way to bring about change is through empathy. DiD is truly an empathy experience initiative that is truly life-changing not only for the visitors but also for all of us at ACE as creators of this magical experience.

DiD has been very instrumental in elevating the lives and self-confidence of so many visually impaired people. When people, when the public get to witness this independence and the abilities of a person with disability at DiD, it rewires them and fuels their confidence to take a giant leap of faith towards disability inclusion and that is immensely gratifying for all of us.

Organisations and leaders experiencing a simple decisive moment at DID have gone back and led poverty alleviation for Persons with Disabilities through employment, which has led to creation of 1000s of jobs for Persons with Disability in the last 10 years. This is one extremely gratifying factor that moves our heart & mind to stay committed to the social impact mission of DiD India.

DSE: Tell me some details about the DiD 2.0

Ananth: The new project is an out-an-out social impact-oriented experience centre. It is most likely to commence operations in the first week of July 2022 and it will host the exhibition and workshop experiences.

The primary focus of the new project is on sensitising the corporate organisations and their employees at all levels. We have understood that corporates have been facing a very tricky challenge for years and the learning is, it is not just essential for the leadership to be sensitive about disability inclusion but is also equally crucial to undertake “an enterprise-wide employee / co-worker sensitisation education program at a shop floor level.”

We strongly feel this will empower every employee of an organisation with the much-needed skills & tools to practically demonstrate inclusion skills when it comes to interacting with the disabled person daily. Sadly, in most cases, inclusion does not sustain due to this challenge. This is where the Bottoms-up approach of sensitisation comes in.

The DiD empathy experience centre will be a permanent set-up that is coming up in a prime location called Nariman Point, South Mumbai. The new project will employ a team of seven staff members – 1 lobby staff, 4 Tour Guides,1 Housekeeping staff & a Centre Head cum Marketing Chief. Of the seven members, five have visual impairment at different degrees.

DSE: What is the primary goal for this new venue?

Ananth: The annual goal is to sensitise and impact one thousand corporates leading to one thousand disabled job pledges, which will result in empowerment & mainstreaming of 1000 disabled youth of the country. 1000 youth = 1000 families and that makes an enormous difference.

Dialogue in the Dark 2.0 is all about enhancing the INCLUSION QUOTIENT substantially over the next decade in India. DiD 2.0 is about transforming India to be a DesiNation, Desi being an acronym for Divyangjan Empowerment for Social Inclusion. Divyangjan is a word coined in India which denotes Persons with Disabilities.

DiD 2.0’s mission could be deemed a success when we create at least a million job pledges for people with disability by 2030 contributing to the SDG 2030 Goal which says “LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND”.

We celebrate DiD India 2.0 and acknowledge the great inclusion ambition driving their actions.

The interview was held by José "Pepe" Macías for DSE.