Hello A11y!

Presenting Apoorv Kulkarni!

Pic of Apoorv Kulkarni

Apoorv has established and drives the Accessibility & Inclusion track at The Ola Mobility Institute (OMI). OMI is a policy research think tank operating at the intersection of mobility, innovation and public good. He champions the rights of Persons with Disability and is working towards making the urban mobility ecosystem Universally Accessible. Before OMI, he was a part of Ola’s Product team and strove to make Ola’s customer app accessible. He also mentored the tech & design teams to improve the experience of the Driver Partners on the platform. In addition, he collaborated with the Human Resource teams that pioneered inclusive hiring in Ola and its group companies.

He is also a member of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, working to make corporate India more aware, sensitive and committed towards inclusive business practices. He is also on the Advisory Board of National Institute of Urban Affairs and supports their efforts to make urban environments accessible for the PwD. He routinely writes for the Financial Express, Business World, the Daily Guardian and other news publications to raise awareness around opportunities to improve urban transport accessibility.

A technologist at heart, he has a Master’s in Business Administration from the Prestigious Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was a Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellow. He is also a Chartered Accountant by training.

He has a diverse range of experience working across three continents. He started his career with KPMG where he led consulting teams on some of India’s largest Financial Institutions including ICICI, HDFC, HSBC, Citibank etc. He has also held various roles in Business, Product in early stage start-ups.

As a person living with low vision, Apoorv has first-hand witnessed how technology breaks down barriers for persons with disabilities. Motivated by his life experiences, he is committed to improving accessibility of urban mobility.

Topic

Upcoming report on Urban Accessibility Challenges for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with Disabilities (PwD) form the largest minority group in India with non-government estimates pegging the number over 100 million. PwDs need safe, accessible, reliable and affordable transportation for accessing a variety of socioeconomic opportunities. However, in India, accessibility considerations often get overlooked during the planning phase of urban transport systems – an observation further highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. This, in turn, perpetuates the exclusion of PwD from accessing various opportunities. An economy pays
the cost of such exclusion in the form of reduced productivity of the Persons with Disabilities, as well as their carers, such as family members, who otherwise would have a higher economic output. According to the International Labour Organization, the cost of excluding Persons with Disabilities from the workforce could be as high as 7% of GDP representing a huge economic loss.


The Ola Mobility Institute (OMI) partnered with nine pro-disability organizations to understand urban transport accessibility challenges. The study focused on the experiences of Persons living with locomotor and visual disabilities along with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. The modes of transport covered include metro/local trains, buses, auto-rickshaws, taxis and auto-rickshaws & cabs attached with technology enabled platforms i.e. mobility aggregators.

OMI’s upcoming report captures observations and insights on the travel experience of PWDs shared through semi-structured interviews with 20+ men and women living with a disability. These findings have been supplemented by Focus Group Discussions with 11 men and women with disabilities to capture the actual &/or anticipated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel experiences of PwDs across the various modes of transport.

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