Talent Search for Youth with Disabilities

Talent Search for Youth with Disabilities (YwDs) 2019-2020


1.       Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council’s (K-DISC)  Young Innovators Program (YIP) targets to empower the  children and youth as future innovators to innovate new products, services or models to meet emerging requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs of the society. Recognizing the importance of making YIP more inclusive,  K-DISC had proposed a series of projects involving Youth with Disabilities. One of the projects thus launched was ‘Talent Search for Youth with Disabilities’, implemented through Kerala Social Security Mission(KSSM) in January 2019.


2.      The Talent Search for Youth with Disabilities program aims to identify talented Youth with Disabilities (YwDs) and to nurture their talents and equip them to take leadership roles in their lives. K-DISC has partnered with the following agencies under Social Justice Department (SJD)- Kerala Social Security Mission, National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) and Institute for Communicative and Cognitive NeuroScience (ICCONS) to execute this project.

3.      This project is structured in such a way to enhance the skills/talents of the YwDs through rigorous training and mentoring for a period of three years.  The program also offers individualized interventions for knowledge and skill acquisition.

Project Objectives

  • To identity youth with disabilities with a potential talent
  • To develop Individual Talent Support Plan (ITSP) for each of the participants
  • To further enhance their talent through training, mentoring and skill development
  • To boost their confidence in performing their talents
  • To create a pool of highly talented Youth with Disabilities and connect them with various employers

Pilot Program Cycle -1 (2019-21)

4.      This pilot program which was initiated on January 2019, with its first batch of participants, underwent two detailed phases.

Figure 1: Different Phases of Cycle 1

Phase I

1. Applications were invited from participants with various disabilities from the field of science, art, literature, and innovative ideas, between the age group of 15 to 40 years through media advertisements.  A total of 192 applications were received, out of which 162 applications where from the eligible. Of the 162 applicants, 54 candidates were shortlisted and a three- day residential camp was organized at BSNL Telecom Regional Training Center, Kaimanam, Thiruvananthapuram from March 29th to April 1st, 2019.  Forty-six  participants attended the camp. It was organized by KDISC in collaboration with Department of Social Justice, Government of Kerala, Kerala Social Security Mission, National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) and Institute for Communicative and Cognitive NeuroScience (ICCONS).                                                                                                                                   

Phase II

2. Based on the collected information from Catalysts and Resources persons during the three-day leadership camp and from the Socio-Economic study conducted by home visits, Individual Talent Support Plan (ITSP) for each participant was prepared. 

3. The information in the ITSP was validated and confirmed by contacting each participant. Necessary approvals from the Advisory Committee was sought prior to the implementation of the ITSP

Online Mode of training

4. Due to the Covid pandemic situation, the proposed three- year offline sessions did not materialise. Instead, online training sessions for Music, Dance, Videography, Drawing and Mimicry were proposed to sustain the interest of the participated who had enrolled for the three-year course. A needs assessment was undertaken to understand how many participants had the technical ability and know-how to participate in on-line classes. Thirty-seven participants expressed a willingness to enroll in on-line courses.

5.An on-line course was developed in consultation with the catalysts and the participants.  The participants expressed a desire to improve their skills.  Consultation with catalysts was conducted to see how this could best be done.  Modules were developed.  In addition, given the unusual times these participants were caught in, motivation sessions were also planned prior to initiating the classes and to create a learning environment for the participations.  

6. A total of 60 online talent training sessions and three motivational sessions were organized between July 2020 and March 2021. Two sessions per month were organized for each talent (Music, Dance, Videography, Drawing and Mimicry). A systemic approach was taken for the online sessions including preparation and circulation of monthly lesson plans as per the learning ability of the participants, along with circulation of weekly reference videos. A monthly progress report with the inputs from parents and catalysts based on the performance and overall improvement was also prepared. A motivational session was conducted for each batch (the participants having been divided into two) and three similar sessions were also conducted during this period.

Perception Assessment

7. In order to determine whether the course should be continued, it was decided to conduct a survey of participant views and reactions on the effectiveness of the training.  Interviews are also planned with the catalysts to better understand their views on the effectiveness of these sessions and how they can be made more relevant and effective. 

8. A simple questionnaire was developed and a telephone survey was organized among  the 35 participants who attended the sessions. The survey aimed to check the effectiveness immediate results of the online sessions. Participants were asked to rate the sessions on a scale of 1-5 (poor, average, good, v. good, excellent), as well as their views on whether their skills had improved. They were also asked whether they wanted to continue the online session for an additional year or for the period the lockdown was in effect. In order to assess their interest, the participants were asked if they would like to continue the classes if they were asked to make a payment of Rs. 5 per month.

9.Thirty one of the 35 participants responded. Two participants were not reachable.  Two participants were of the view that they were at a much higher level than the others and therefore, did not wish to proceed further with what they saw as basic talent improvement sessions.  The findings of the remaining 31 are reported below.

Analysis of Findings

All participants were rated the sessions between 4 and 5 (Figure 2). Figure 3 provides the ratings on Trainer Instructions.  One participant rated it as 3 or good – this was the videography course. All 31 noted that they would wish to continue even if they were asked to pay Rs. 5 per month.  Only one participant said that he would find it difficult to pay even Rs. 6 per month.

Overall, all participants responded that they were able to improve their talent through training. About 20% percent said they have begun to practice regularly. Thirty-two percent responded that they improved their basics. About 30 percent said they learned new things.

Project plan - Cycle -2

The online training for the participants in Cycle 1 will be continued till 31 March 2022. The strategy adopted for the Cycle 1 will be same for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Cycle 2

Phase 1

In the Phase 1, 50 participants will be selected for training. For the identified participants, regional leadership camps are planned at various locations. The number of participants is being restricted 10 YwDs per camp and their bystanders due to Covid related restrictions.

Phase 2

As in the case of Cycle 1, the ITSP preparation and training will be continued in phase 2


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