Our History

APD History - How It All Began

In the year 1955, N.S. Hema, a 17-year old girl, affected by polio in both legs and one arm, went to Bombay for medical intervention. She was accompanied by her father N.S. Ayyangar. During her two-year stay, she met Fatima Ismail (the mother of a polio affected daughter) who had started a rehabilitation centre for the disabled in the name of Fellowship of the Physically Handicapped. Hema was impressed to see the sheltered workshop where a good number of people with disability (PwD) were engaged in work. Her young mind dreamed of creating economic independence for PwDs by training and rehabilitation. She also met the Vice President of the Fellowship - Heramb Kher, also a person with disability.

On Hema’s return to Bangalore, N.S. Ayyangar talked to N.D. Diwan, an ex-serviceman and wheelchair user, Rev. I.L. Thomas (Principal of Bishop Cotton School, Bangalore), also a person using a wheelchair, and others to discuss the possibility of starting a centre for helping the people with disability.

That’s how the seed for APD was sown.

2010 - 2020


The organization oriented itself towards a more strategic approach. There were internal changes in teams, processes and operations in keeping with external evolution. Greater thought was given to the areas in which APD should specialize as a provider of services for the underprivileged PwDs. Various workshops were conducted for the skilling of internal teams such as training in Indian Sign Language (ISL).

APD was awarded the Indian NGO award for the best NGO in the medium category in South India. The awards were supported by Rockefeller Foundation and facilitated by The Resource Alliance.


APD realized that community is key for disability to be understood, accepted and managed. The District Disability Model was an approach to make the community accountable towards their PwDs.

APD was awarded Best NGO in the disability space in Karnataka. This was awarded by the State Government.

APD also received the Highest Fundraising NGO award at the TCS World 10K event in Bangalore.

The organization was also bestowed with theShree Basaveshwara Award for exemplary work in the field of disability from Shree Ambayya Swamy Prathibha Prathisthana, Lakshmeshwar, Gadag.

Margaret Alva, Governor of Maharashtra, also visited APD for the Garden Fair. She was very appreciative of the work done by APD.

Margaret Alva, Governor of Maharashtra, at APD India's Garden Fair, 2011


From 2012 onwards, there was a shift in APD’s geographical reach. It was observed that most NGOs and facilities were available in the south of Karnataka, in and around Bangalore. North Karnataka was the region with greater need. APD started its programs in the underprivileged communities in North Karnataka with its Strategic Partners program.


In 2013-14, APD took leadership in initiating the development of the Disability NGOs Alliance (DNA). The objective was to create a stronger unanimous voice for the disability sector so that organizations can influence change in government policies, share best practices and resources.

Around this time, APD also started reviewing the Disability Act of 1995 with the intention to create a more relevant and usable version for the betterment of PwDs.

The Management Information software (MIS) Goonjan was introduced in APD for better data and process management. Internally, policies such as Child Protection and Vishakha (women protection) were implemented to create a healthy work environment. APD also ensured the establishment of these policies with partner organizations as well.

APD also began extending support to partners.

The organization celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the Horticulture Program.


APD received the Namma Bengaluru Award under the Best Citizen Group.

The Center for Disability Management (CDM) was formed with the objective to develop skilled human resources for the disability sector via RCA recognized courses.


Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro Limited, visited APD. He was very supportive of APD’s mission and began funding APD initiatives, particularly extending support to partners, via the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI). Early Intervention became a vertical this year and expanded to rural areas in Karnataka with APPI support.

This year was the beginning of APD’s greater involvement with government. The Government Interface unit at APD was launched with the objective to serve as a watchdog for the disability sector.

The Community Mental Health Program expanded to Davangere with the support of the Live Love Laugh Foundation.


This was a significant year for the disability sector with the announcement of the reviewed Disability Act, 2016. APD played a significant role with inputs for this version.


With the passing of N.S. Hema, the founder of APD and a torchbearer for PwDs since decades, APD’s Governing Board decided to institute the N.S. Hema Award for Outstanding NGO in Disability in her memory. The award is given on the Founder’s Day, Oct 4th.

APD received the Certificate of Accreditation from the Credibility Alliance. Please see the Credentials page.

APD received the Akhil Bhartiya Oswal Parishad Award.


Under the 2018-21 strategic plan, Belagavi and Kalaburagi divisions became the focus along with Urban Bengaluru. Divisional hubs were established for effective delivery. 

APD was granted "Special Consultative" status by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), United Nations body. APD is one of six NGOs in India with special consultative status.

APD became a State Committee Member to recommend beneficiaries for Central Government grants.

APD received a number of awards:

  • Best NGO 2018 by Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI)

  • Nipman Foundation Microsoft Equal Opportunity Award 2018 for Best Inclusive School

  • Individual Institutional Award for SIS from Able Disabled All People Together (ADAPT.SSI)

  • TMF Award for Top Number of Placements in SMART

Please see the Awards page.


APD received:

  • Appreciation Award for contribution to Mental Health by the Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS

  • E-Innovation Award from MUGU International Foundation (MIF), India

  • In 2019, APD was accredited as the State Level Resource Group to implement the Central Govt.’s National Trust Act by replicating APD’s model of Early Intervention projects across the state

  • Catalyst Management Services (CMS) awards the Catalyzing Social Impact 2019 award to APD

  • APD received the prestigious NCPEDP- MindTree Helen Keller Award 2019 from The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) for promoting equal employment opportunities for person with disabilities.

  • APD was also awarded with the INSPIRE AWARD 2019 for its leadership and vision by the Britt Worldwide (BWW) and Parivartan.

2000 - 2010


The government leased out a 5-acre land at Kyalasanahalli, Hennur Road for APD to run the Horticulture Training Programme PwDs of various categories. This was along the same lines as the one at Jeevan Bhimanagar which was running successfully.

5-acre land at Kyalasanahalli, Hennur Road leased to APD | APD India, 2001


Two important books were released this year - ‘Challenging Disability,” a book on the journey of APD by Ms. Jean Satterthwaite and ‘Urban Slums Reach Out” compiled by Ms. Sobha Raja.

The year also saw the launch of the programme to support persons with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI).

Challenging Disability,” a book on the journey of APD India by Ms. Jean Satterthwaite, 2002


APD launched its website – http://www.apd-india.org/.

A committee was formed to prepare a strategic plan for the future. The committee’s recommendation of “3 Year Vision of APD” was accepted by the Managing Committee on Dec 4th, with the decision to implement the same from 2004. In these three years, it was planned to reach out to about 10,000 PwDs, via various programs.


A major step was taken in the reorganization of APD with a view to expand its reach and enlarge its scope beyond locomotor disability. APD also expanded its programmes to other districts of Karnataka.

This was also the year the foundation for the Horticultural Training Centre at Kyalasanahalli was laid down.

APD further collaborated with Basic Needs India to expand support to persons with mental illness.


APD partnered with International Deaf Children’s Society (IDCS) India to expand its reach and quality of services for hearing impaired persons in rural and urban areas.

APD partnered with Motivation-UK to launch quality wheelchairs in both urban and rural areas. The first world-made wheelchair was fabricated in APD.


The 3-year strategic plan for 2004-07 was reviewed. The Managing Committee was satisfied by the efforts put in by the staff in reaching 8200 PwDs in the 1st strategic plan. It was resolved that the 2nd strategic plan for the next 3 years be adopted. APD took a decision to support other organizations to give effect to the resolve of reaching an additional 10,000 PwDs in the next 3 years.

The prestigious Kempegowda Award was given to APD. Mr. M.N.V. Urs, President of APD was felicitated and the award presented at a gala function held at Kanteerava Indoor Stadium by BBMP.


APD entered its 50th year on the occasion on 19th May. A nice music party was arranged. All people connected with APD attended and enjoyed the melodious Veena Recital by Smt. Geeta Gopal and friends. D.M. Naidu, APD Trustee and Hon. Associate Secretary rededicated his wish to take APD to greater heights in serving people with disability.

A decision was taken to celebrate 2008-09 as APD’s Golden Jubilee year. Various events to be conducted during the year were finalized and sub-committees formed to conduct the events.

On October 4th, a get-together was arranged at Kyalasanahalli Horticultural Center. An event attended by donors, well-wishers, customers and others was conducted with music and entertainment.

On October 5th, a Road Art show was conducted at the low-level Sadashivanagar Park which was much appreciated by the media and public. About 200 children with disability, both from urban and rural areas, participated. The event was sponsored by The Bank of Baroda.

.This was an important year for the disability sector as the government recruited over 6000 Village Rehabilitation Workers (VRW) and Multi-purpose Rehabilitation Workers (MRW). This was also when APD launched its Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation program and the screening of newborn babies for developmental delays.

Our website www.apd-india.org won the Website of the Year award in the Non-profit Organizations category. The award was given by Metrix Lab, a global online market research company.


On March 19th and 20th, the Regional Seminar was conducted at "Olde Bangalore," Devanahalli Road to commemorate the Golden Jubilee Celebration. Sponsored by VST Tillers Tractors Limited, the seminar was attended by almost 150 delegates who discussed Inclusion, Mobility, Accessibility and Livelihood. This has been one of the biggest events at APD.

1990 - 2000


The problems at the ATC increased with the strike, with higher financial losses. Borrowing from banks became difficult as huge liabilities were built up. The demand of the Union to hand over to the workshop to the government did not materialise as the government did not respond to the written offer of APH. Finally, in June, Raghuraj, the President of APH, addressed all the trainees in the workshop premises and made an offer to hand over the workshop to them if they were willing to run it. The offer was refused. Ultimately a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) was announced. By July, all the trainees had accepted the offer and the workshop was closed.

This was a sad time for APH as the program that started with such hope was whittled down this way. On the brighter side, the constant drain on APH͛s financial resources was arrested. More importantly, APH could concentrate on the real rehabilitation process and reach out to more people with disability in need of urgent help. Another satisfactory outcome was that most of the trainees got jobs in mainstream industries.


More importance was given to CBR through networking and education. ZFS played an important role as a Capacity Builder by developing the first strategic plan.

The mission statement became: ͞To meet individual needs, to create awareness; to promote acceptance and integration; to instill self-confidence, and to encourage self-reliance, for the benefit of People with Disability."


APH management decided to remove the word ͞handicapped͟ from its name. APH was renamed to ͚The Association of People with Disability͛ (APD).

1980 - 1990


Initial work on Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) was started by conducting a survey in Kolar Gold Fields area during the International Year of Disability.


This was a difficult year with problems arising in ATC. About 78 persons taking training started strikes, unrest, and formed a union. They raised unreasonable demands, including that the workshop (Training Centre) be handed over to the government.

APH wrote a letter to the government to take over the workshop but there was no response. APH had decided that if the government did take over, the workshop would be closed as it was a huge financial drain, with excess of expenditure mounting every year. The production was also poor due to low productivity. APH had to borrow heavily every month to pay the salaries and other fixed expenses.

The very premise of APH to reach out to more and more people with disability every year was not being served while the liability was increasing alarmingly.


The Orthotic Appliances and Training Centre was started to manufacture mobility aids to for the PwDs APH was reaching. The children of SIS were hugely benefited by this. Training in orthotic appliances was also launched for trainees, sourced from India and abroad.


The Horticulture Training Centre was started in Jeevan Bhimanagar on land of nearly one acre, given by BDA to APH on lease.


The CBR programme and preliminary work undertaken was expanded with the intent to organize and empower communities by developing skills in community members. The goal was to sustain ongoing development in health, education, and livelihood.

Some land was given as a gift by Santu Ramaswamy Swamiji in Chintamani. “Ananda Ashram” as the place was called, with basic infrastructure, became the hub of CBR activity in rural areas, particularly in Kolar district.

The Urban Slum Outreach Programme (USOP) was an effort taken by Hema in slums of Neelasandra and nine others from years back. It is the biggest and most ambitious programme undertaken by APH employing over one third of the staff and catering to about 1000 PwDs. What started about 18 years ago with a small beginning became a huge project funded by Action Aid and SCIAF.

1970 - 1980


HEKS and Bread for The World of Germany donated ₹30 lakhs, a significant happening heralding the progress and conviction of the organization.


On 25th June, the new building was declared open by Shri. V.V. Giri, President of India.

Trainees at the new workshop in APH | APD India, 1972


The year took an ugly turn with a strike conducted by about 390 persons undergoing training and around 1000 in the waiting list.

On the other hand, on June 4th, Shradhanjali Integrated School (SIS) was started to provide education and all-round development of children based on inclusive education. Among the 10 children who joined the school 8 had a disability.


With regret the training centre had to be closed. APH did some soul searching and realized that no forethought was given in implementing it prudently.


As a part of reorganization, a Home Based Programme (HBP) was launched to help displaced persons with disability make a living. The jobs were brought from big factories and taken to the homes of PwDs who were taught how to assemble them. After completion, the jobs were returned to the factories. The scheme was successful, with many persons being benefited.

Management decided to split the training activities into two:

  • Formal Industrial Training Course (ITC) based on NCVT syllabus (NTC) and bound by the duration of the trade selected.
  • Advanced Training Course (ATC) 2-years duration where trainees would be given on-the-job training in various machine operations.

1960 - 1970


On March 20th, the foundation stone for the workshop was laid by Maharaja Shri. Jayachamarajendra Wodiyer, Governor of Mysore. OXFAM, UK donated 2,47,500/- for the borewell, building, etc. The State Government also gave a grant of 34,000/-. The construction process was kicked off.

Maharaja Shri. Jayachamarajendra Wodiyer, Governor of Mysore lays foundation stone for APH | | APD India, 1961 Hema cuts the tape for the machine shop set up in APH | APD India, 1961


On Feb 27th, the informal ‘Grihapravesam’ of the new building took place. Hema lit the lamp. Who would have known that this lamp was to shed light on the lives of many tens of thousands of PwDs in the years to come! Perhaps, Hema’s determination, perseverance and dedication to the cause, blessed by Divine Grace, pulled APH through thick and thin in later time.

The operation was shifted from the garage to the new building. Indian Telephone Industries started giving work to APH.


The number of trainees increased to 125. Other firms such as BEL, ITC also started giving work. There were many waitlisted PwDs, wanting to join. HEKS and OXFAM gave 2,78,000/- for the machine shop. A new building of 5700sqft was taken up for construction.

1958 - 1960


On Oct 15th, a meeting was held at Woodlands Hotel. The attendees were people who answered to an advertisement put in the local paper inviting persons interested in starting a center for PwDs.

Early Social Gathering at Woodlands Hotel | APD India | 1958


On May 14th, 24 members present on the day adopted the name of Association of the Physically Handicapped (APH). They elected 10 committee members and office bearers with I.L. Thomas as President, N.S. Ayyangar as Vice President, Lakshmi Menon as Secretary and N.D. Diwan as Treasurer.

On May 20th Association of the Physically Handicapped was formally registered under the Mysore Societies Act. The plan was to subsequently start a Training and Rehabilitation Centre.

On Sept 14th, the inauguration of the training centre took place at Sir Puttanchetty Town Hall by Sri Rachiah, Minister for Social Welfare.

A small place was taken on rent at Cambridge road for ₹75/- per month, where training in tailoring was started. After a few months it was shifted to a house taken on rent (₹40/- per month) in Malleswaram.


The activity at Malleswaram was shifted to Hema's garage where four youths started training in tailoring and embroidery. The programmes did not take off as expected as there was not much to motivate the trainees, who found begging more lucrative.

Hema came up with the idea of doing subcontract work for big industries. Hema’s uncle, the Managing Director of Mysore Electrical Industries, was approached and small assembly work was started in the garage. It subsequently became a busy operation.

On Nov 10th, V.T. Padmanabhan, an industrialist, gifted 2 acres of land in Lingarajpuram to the Association. Meanwhile, the work in the garage wenton in full swing.

V.T. Padmanabhan, an industrialist, gifted 2 acres of land in Lingarajpuram to APD India.