ASHRAYA is a non-profit organization based in the US, established in 1991 with an aim to provide assistance to the physically challenged and rural communities in India in the areas of education, vocational training and income generation. Our focus is on various challenges such as visual, aural, mobility, learning and rural poverty; and on different age groups, i.e. education for children, vocational training for teenagers and income generation for adults. We strive to use assistive technologies wherever feasible so as to increase sustainability and leverage. ASHRAYA is registered in the state of New Jersey and has obtained tax‑exempt status from IRS. In the initial years, ASHRAYA provided services to select big and established India-based welfare organizations chiefly working in the disabilities sector such as NAB (Bombay), NAB (Chennai), BPA (Ahmedabad), Mobility India (Bangalore) and MP Blind Welfare Association (Indore). Over the last 10 years, our focus has shifted to providing services to smaller and more rural-based organizations.

The following are the services we provide for free:

  1. Build and manage libraries in rural government schools focused on activity based learning
  2. Establish and run science clubs and nature clubs in rural government schools
  3. Fund innovative educational programs such as mobile science labs
  4. Establish and fund income generation and vocational training programs for the visually, physically and mentally challenged
  5. Supply educational aids for end users (e.g. educational materials and kits for rural children, braille typewriters, low vision aids, speech enhancement devices)
  6. Supply assistive-technologies and equipment towards the following
    • Talking Book production centers for the visually challenged (duplicating machines, recording systems)
    • Centers of education (e.g. PCs, scanners, screen reader and speech recognition software for the visually challenged; mobile science labs for rural schools)


Values

  • Upholds the symbiosis between man and man; and between man and machine through need-based technologies
  • Does not believe in assistance but rather in enabling others to assist themselves
  • Sees impairments as an opportunity for betterment and not as a disability
  • Believes that in the techno-centric world, disabilities and inequities are of the mind and not the body
  • Believes in the motto “We are all too small to change the world, but not too big to change ourselves”

Edicts

  • Does not donate money to a general cause nor supports operational expenses
  • Does not deduct any overhead-related expenses during fund disbursement
  • All funds are used to purchase aids and equipment for direct usage (by end users)
  • Pays supplier of aids directly upon confirmed delivery and not the beneficiary organizations
  • Rarely purchases aids for individual use in order to ensure scalable usage
  • Solicits only project-specific and not general funds from sponsors

The table below shows a comprehensive list of aids and assistive technologies used in education, employment generation and extracurricular activities for the physically challenged community.

Type of Challenge Education & Employment Generation Extracurricular Activities
Basic Computer-based
General Purpose Assistive Hardware Assistive Software
Learning and
Rural Poor
  • Educational kits
  • Learning materials
  • Books and materials for running libraries
  • Materials for running science clubs and nature clubs
Materials for conducting science and other fun projects to promote complementary education
Low vision Low-vision lens
  • PCs
  • Image scanners
  • Laser Printers
Screen enlargers and magnifiers Visibility None
Visual
  • Braille Typewriters
  • Tactile kits
  • Tactile globe
  • Duplicating machines
  • Recording equipment
  • Braille Printers
  • Tactile keyboards
  • Speech synthesizer
  • Screen Reader
  • Braille translator
  • Sports equipment
  • Music equipment
Hearing Hearing aids None Sign language interpreter None
Speech Voice amplifiers and processors Speech trainers
  • Speech therapy
  • Speech enhancement
None
Mobility Prosthetic devices
  • On-screen keyboards
  • Alternative inputs
  • Voice inputs
Speech recognition Sports wheelchairs