Our Programs

National Disability Helpline

our national helpline

Vital Support for people with disabilities

ASTHA proudly operates India’s first and only online National Disability Helpline, a groundbreaking initiative designed for people with disabilities, by people with disabilities. ASTHA started the helpline services during the year 2000. It is the first national level cross disability helpline in India, inaugurated by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Hon’ble former President of India on 22nd September 2008. 

Spearheaded by Rakesh and Gaurav, who themselves have disabilities and emerged as leaders from ASTHA’s youth disability advocacy group, this helpline has grown into a vital resource, offering support, assistance, and information to disabled individuals and their families across India. Rakesh and Gaurav’s firsthand experiences bring unique insights and empathy to the service, ensuring that every caller receives the guidance, resources, and advocacy needed to navigate challenges. 

This initiative underscores ASTHA’s belief in the power of information for empowerment, demonstrating our commitment to inclusivity and the active role people with disabilities play in shaping a more accessible world.

Gaurav and rakesh run the helpline
Gaurav working
rakesh speaking
our services

Call Handling

Our trained helpline staff are available 24/7 to answer calls and provide guidance and support to individuals with disabilities.

Information Dissemination

We provide accurate and up-to-date information on disability rights, services, and resources to help individuals make informed decisions.

Referral Services

We connect individuals with disabilities to relevant organizations and services that can further assist them in their specific needs.

Our story

By People with disabilities, for people with disabilities

Our helpline is entirely run by Rakesh and Gaurav, people with disabilities who have been with ASTHA since they were children. Rakesh and Gaurav have gone through ASTHA’s programmatic support as children, have gone through ASTHA’s Viklang Manch as young adults, and now run the helpline. Their leadership highlights how individuals with disabilities are not just beneficiaries but also key changemakers in our society.

3,779 Calls

Received in 2022 - 2023

19 States

Serviced through our help

24 Years

In service connecting people and organizations with resources

rakesh, helpline lead

Rakesh, a 32-year-old resident of Govindpuri, has lived with bilateral polio since he was five. His journey with ASTHA started at the age of 5, when he was denied entry to school because of his disability and was told a parent must accompany him to class everyday. ASTHA helped reverse this decision by asserting his legal right to education.

Despite the challenges posed by inaccessible school facilities, with classrooms located on upper floors without ramps or elevators, Rakesh persevered in his studies. However, accessibility issues followed him into the workplace, forcing him to resign from a data entry job due to an office relocation to an inaccessible floor. 

Rakesh’s resilience and leadership capabilities led to a fellowship opportunity with ASTHA in 2012, where he received training in accounts and became deeply involved in addressing the issues faced by people with disabilities. Renowned for his computer skills, Rakesh’s office became a hub for those seeking assistance.

Transformation through advocacy became a cornerstone of Rakesh’s life. Once introverted, his experiences at ASTHA transformed him into a vocal advocate for disability rights. He joined Viklang Ekta Manch in 2012 and received another fellowship in 2013, further enhancing his leadership skills. 

By 2016, Rakesh secured a role leading a helpline communication team. Today, he leads the helpline, where he continues to impact lives and champion the rights of the differently abled everyday.

gaurav, helpline lead

Gaurav, a 32-year-old resident of Govindpuri slum in Delhi, lives with his mother and two younger brothers. Following his father’s death during his senior year of high school, Gaurav pursued his degree through Delhi University’s School of Correspondence and began working at a factory to support his family. 

Six months into the job, Gaurav fell ill, and despite initial uncertainty from local doctors, an MRI revealed water spots on his brain, leading to the start of treatment. His condition worsened, necessitating brain surgery that resulted in the loss of his vision. Despite efforts to seek better treatment across various hospitals, improvements were minimal until Chandiwala Private Hospital offered hope for independence though his vision couldn’t be restored.

In 2015, Gaurav joined ASTHA as a youth member of Viklang Ekta Manch, where he gained insights into disability rights through a fellowship. By 2018, he secured a position as a helpline team member at ASTHA, where he independently manages calls and assists callers based on their needs, achieving significant personal independence.

Support our efforts

Donate today to support our community-based work. You can donate a set amount once or monthly. You can also choose to sponsor a child with a yearly donation of ₹15,000.

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