More than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability and among them,80% live in developing countries. These people are also known as the world’s largest marginalized group in terms of obtaining poorer health condition, lower educationalachievement,andfewer economic opportunities. The reason behind this poor fact is mainly lack of services available to them (e.g., information and communication technology, transportation facilities, alternative education, employment opportunity etc.) which causes obstacles in their daily life.
Bridge Foundation was formed in 2013 by launching a unique project named “IT for Differently Abled”. The aim of this project is to enhance IT education and skills of differently abled young people of society. Bridge Foundation believes that people who are differently abled are capable of earning for their family. With this credence, this organization started working with people who are hearing impaired and physically challenged. Bridge Foundation’s mission is to empower and promote sign language users and physically challenged people. Founder Natasha Israt Kabir and Co-founder Swarna Moye Sarker from Dhaka has an online platform from 2013, where they promote their graphics skill, internet marketing, and arts and painting for their self-employment. It was initially difficult for Swarna and her team to communicate as they did not know sign language. Gradually the communication became easy during the one-year project phase of IT for Differently Abled. This year Bridge Foundation has been selected as the WSIS Prize 2019 Champion for the Category 15 — AL C8. Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content. Their project IT For The Differently Able was among those top 5 among 1140 projects.
In 2014 end of the project, Bridge foundation discovered that their hearing-impaired students are more creative, meritorious and patient than people like us. Few of them are very good at painting and designing handicrafts but people generally have no idea about it. This triggers Swarna and her team. They decided to arrange training and workshop to make paintings and handicrafts by them and will create a platform to sell their products. The idea is to connect a bridge between common and differently abled people through art and creativity. Bridge foundation open a social media page named Magical Art of Silence from where they showcased these products and sell to people. Besides this initiative Bridge also helping hearing impaired girls and working with few schools outside Dhaka to raise awareness among people of the deprived community.
In 2018, Bridge foundation received Joy Bangla Youth award 2018 from Young Bangla – one of the biggest platforms of Bangladesh for its outstanding performance in empowering especially challenged people in the society.