Swechha is an online compilation of service providers catering to the specific needs of persons with intellectual and developmental challenges and their caregivers. It is set up to connect the families of persons with intellectual and developmental challenges with service providers like occupational, speech and physio therapists, day care centers, counsellors, and lawyers. Swechha has an extensive listing of professionals; it currently houses information on 889 service providers in Delhi and a growing resource bank in states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Swechha is an amazing resource for the family of a person with an intellectual or developmental challenge. The platform seeks to lower the barriers between caregivers and service providers, making access much easier and helping to create a more inclusive society. Its helpful search feature allows you to filter through information based on location and service providers available in the field of disability you are searching for. In addition to the resource directory, Swechha attempts to educate people on four challenges: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Intellectual Disability. The portal has very helpful and succinct explanations and insights into the challenges which allows the viewer to get a snapshot of the disorder without having to sift through tons of information.
There is a shortage of resource portals like this, which can surely simplify the lives of Indian parents and other caregivers. There are several websites written for American or other audiences. However, the online space for Indian parents is limited. Mumbai-based NGO Ummeed Child Development Center has developed a website that provides information on disabilities. Ummeed, like Swechha, has information on developmental challenges. However, it is slightly different in that it is a more academic approach. Ummeed has an extensive collection of articles and literature on important topics like the basics of ADHD, Autsim, Tics and Tourettes, the rights of special needs people, and strategies for overcoming or addressing specific issues that arise due to the developmental challenges etc. Ummeed also maintains an active calendar of events for professionals and caregivers on how to best care for children and navigate the different stages of their development.
While Ummeed is firmly set in the literature aspect, Swechha attempts to go a step further and help the families through the services directory. Another online offering in the Indian context is Tree of Happyness, a website which features stories from parents and their struggles in dealing with understanding kids with disabilities, dealing with in-laws, juggling careers etc. It provides an interesting online community and makes the caretaker or parent feel that they are not alone and can possibly learn from and help other people in similar situations. One post on the blog is a very interesting angle of parenting a child with developmental issues. The author is a mother who has devised very easy to implement and fun ways to help a child hone his hand eye coordination and other important skills. Games like picking up popcorn with a tweezer or beading a pasta necklace is an entertaining way to help a child with development challenges carry out simple tasks and not think of it as therapy.
Swechha does not have the user interaction that the Tree of Happyness does, but is a great resource and should be utilized. As with any database, the results will reflect the quality of data available. Caregivers will have access to more information as the website is populated with more providers and also reviews of existing service providers. While parents may already have some information through their offline networks, the web-based resource provides additional information on other service providers that parents may not know about.
Swechha – a creation of the Amrit Foundation of India is an extremely well organized and executed website. It is not difficult to see how the abundant resource bank is such a valuable resource for caregivers of people with developmental challenges, and will help achieve their goal of inclusion for all.